While browsing through the public domain books in the Google library, I found one called How to Write Moving Picture Plays that was written in 1914 by William Lewis Gordon. It has some good advice (Is your climax strong enough?), some common sense advice (Write only on one side of the paper.), and some advice that is now laughably bad.
Here is the first paragraph of the section called "Kinds of Plays to Avoid."
Avoid any scenes or suggestive complications that may offend good taste or morals. Avoid scenes of murder, suicide, robbery, kidnapping, harrowing deathbeds, horrible accidents, persons being tortured, scenes attending an electrocution or hanging, violent fights showing strangling, shooting, or stabbing, staggering drunkards, depraved or wayward women, rioting strikers, funerals, and all such scenes of a depressing or unpleasant nature. Do not make a hero of a highwayman or escaped convict. Do not reflect upon any religious belief, nationality, or physical deformity. Thousands of men, women, and CHILDREN of all classes, nationalities, and creeds witness these pictures daily. We may occasionally see some play depicted which is contrary to the above advice, but they are the exceptions, and are to be avoided. Give your story a clean, wholesome, pleasant tone, leaving the few morbid tales for others to write. These tales of crime are growing less every day, and consequently the photoplay is growing better.
Quentin Tarantino would have no career!
picture by liquidnight
The Owl Tree started as just a painted tree pasted on a wall, but a great number of the street artists in Seattle have contributed to it now. There are stickers, installations and stencils all placed carefully together to form one piece. Unlike most graffiti that just gets changed by anyone who happens by, this piece was planned and advertised. Its location is secret.
I wish there could be more collaborative art like this. Imagine a gallery where you could add your own painting or modify someone else's.
Wired has just posted a fantastic article by David Byrne on the strategies of making and marketing music for emerging artists.
Touring is not just promotion. Live performances used to be seen as essentially a way to publicize a new release — a means to an end, not an end in itself. Bands would go into debt in order to tour, anticipating that they'd recover their losses later through increased record sales. This, to be blunt, is all wrong. It's backward. Performing is a thing in itself, a distinct skill, different from making recordings. And for those who can do it, it's a way to make a living.
So with all these changes, what happens to the labels? Some will survive. Nonesuch, where I've done several albums, has thrived under Warner Music Group ownership by operating with a lean staff of 12 and staying focused on talent. "Artists like Wilco, Philip Glass, k.d. lang, and others have sold more here than when they were at so-called major labels," Bob Hurwitz, president of Nonesuch, told me, "even during a time of decline."
But some labels will disappear, as the roles they used to play get chopped up and delivered by more thrifty services. In a recent conversation I had with Brian Eno (who is producing the next Coldplay album and writing with U2), he was enthusiastic about I Think Music — an online network of indie bands, fans, and stores — and pessimistic about the future of traditional labels. "Structurally, they're much too large," Eno said. "And they're entirely on the defensive now. The only idea they have is that they can give you a big advance — which is still attractive to a lot of young bands just starting out. But that's all they represent now: capital."
So where do artists fit into this changing landscape? We find new options, new models.
Stanley Kubrick is widely considered to be one of the best filmmakers of all time. From Clockwork Orange and 2001 to Full Metal Jacket, his movies were memorable and unique. Marlon Brando said, "Stanley is unusually perceptive and delicately attuned to people. He has an adroit intellect and is a creative thinker, not a repeater, not a fact-gatherer,. he digests what he learns and brings to a new project an original point of view and a reserved passion."
I've collected a few quotes on his process and creativity.
Perhaps it sounds ridiculous, but the best thing that young filmmakers should do is to get hold of a camera and some film and make a movie of any kind at all.
I think the big mistake in schools is trying to teach children anything, and by using fear as the basic motivation. Fear of getting failing grades, fear of not staying with your class, etc. Interest can produce learning on a scale compared to fear as a nuclear explosion to a firecracker.
If you can talk brilliantly about a problem, it can create the consoling illusion that it has been mastered.
Any time you take a chance you better be sure the rewards are worth the risk because they can put you away just as fast for a ten dollar heist as they can for a million dollar job.
I think it was Joyce who observed that accidents are the portals to discovery. Well, that's certainly true in making films. And perhaps in much the same way, there is an aspect of film-making which can be compared to a sporting contest. You can start with a game plan but depending on where the ball bounces and where the other side happens to be, opportunities and problems arise which can only be effectively dealt with at that very moment.
I think that one of the problems with twentieth-century art is its preoccupation with subjectivity and originality at the expense of everything else. This has been especially true in painting and music. Though initially stimulating, this soon impeded the full development of any particular style, and rewarded uninteresting and sterile originality.
The events and situations that are most meaningful to people are those in which they are actually involved--and I'm convinced that this sense of personal involvement derives in large part from visual perception. I once saw a woman hit by a car, for example, or right after she had been hit, and she way lying in the middle of the road. I knew that at that moment I would have risked my life if necessary to help her...whereas if I had merely read about the accident or heard about it, it could not have meant too much. Of all the creative media I think that film is most nearly able to convey this sense of meaningfulness; to create an emotional involvement and a feeling of participation in the person seeing it.
How could we possibly appreciate the Mona Lisa if Leonardo had written at the bottom of the canvas: 'The lady is smiling because she is hiding a secret from her lover.' This would shackle the viewer to reality, and I don't want this to happen to 2001.
James Kochalka, artist/musician, has been keeping a daily online cartoon diary since 2002. Just recently, he decided that instead of making people subscribe to see it, he would offer the whole run for free.
Not only does he deal with issues involved in creativity, but he gives a wonderful, loving portrait of his family through good times and bad. The cartoon in this post features his wife Amy and their son Eli.
Beware, once you start reading it's hard to stop.
You can buy collections of these strips plus his other work here.
Rolling Stone magazine listed one of his songs as a best of 2006. Here's a fan made video for the song. He sings "Justin Timberlake" 101 times. Enjoy!
To me his daily strip is a great model for getting yourself motivated for work. Do something every single day. These diary entries are truly impressive when taken all together. It's like an accidental novel assembled from random pieces.
I'm in the middle of a project, so instead of a new post I thought I would repost one of my favorites from the first month of the blog...
You let so much hold you back. Fear. Self-doubt. Money. For just one day, let yourself be awesome. Not ok, not good, but completely and totally AWESOME!
No longer are you a tiny doubt-filled tadpole in a giant pond, not today. Today you are Godzilla and the rest of the world is a terrified city gazing up at you with their mouths hanging open. A simple flick of your tail has massive repercussions. To you, the rest of the world are like tiny, irritating flies buzzing around you.
Oh, they're going to try to bring you down. They'll come after you with tanks, airplanes and electric power lines designed to fence you in. But, you know that those are just limitations that would stop somebody who wasn't as awesome as you are. You are so awesome that you can simply step on these minor problems and crush them. If that doesn't work, your Atomic Breath Ray will blow them up. Take that boring day job! Take that self-doubt!
Best of all, you are unstoppable. Whatever you want to do or accomplish comes easily. No need to procrastinate or over-plan, you just do it! Even if the world sends MechaGodzilla to stop you, you still triumph in the end. In fact, it makes you stronger because you are super-charged by the radiation he emits. Imagine a day where everything that stands in your way is afraid of your massive crushing jaws! Nothing can stop you! Let today be that day!
I know there are some people who don't feel comfortable being awesome, but you do. I also understand you can't be Godzilla level awesome all the time, no one wants to date Godzilla, but isn't it great to know that you can be when you want to?