Seeing the band Of Monsters and Men recently made me appreciate the strengths of another art form, in this case music. Or more specifically, live music. One of the things, aside from the talents of both OMAM and the support act, Highasakite, that impressed me was the feeling of a shared experience, that both the bands and crowd were feeding of each other. It was clear to see that they enjoyed being on stage, peforming, and that the audience were connecting with the songs.
Now, this might sound like a frustrated musician talking, (and I promise it’s not), but it was hard not to feel almost envious at the way live music, offers people the chance to experience this, whether they’re on the stage or in the audience. It gives an immediacy to the songs that you won’t find on record, and is obviously only found in live peformance. Nevertheless, it’s an interesting contrast with film, where, whilst creativity and flexibility are needed, there is obviously no equivalent to the kind of live performance you get with music. The clearest exception to this would be theatre, although there the acting style is totally different to film.
This isn’t meant to come across as a moan about my career choice. I love films, and I’m blessed to have this opportunity to attempt to make a living out of them. It just got me thinking how a medium like live music allows musicians to see, firsthand, the affect that their music is having on audiences, and the satisfaction that must come with that. The closest thing we have to that in filmmaking is box office figures, although that doesn’t reflect what people thought of the film, just that they paid to see it in the first place.
Aside from the limitations of one art form against another, I wonder if there might be a way to inject some of the spontaneity of live peformance into filmmaking? Improv is one way to harness the spontaneous, and it’s something I’d like to explore as a filmmaker. You obviously need your cast to remain within the parameters of the story and their characters, and to be mindful of the visual/technical apsects of the film, but within that I think there is scope for creativity and a certain element of spontaneity.
I’m beginning to realise that as a filmmaker, you have collaborators in front of the camera as well as behind it. Of course, there has to be one unifying voice and vision, (yours, as the director), but that doesn’t mean you can’t accept and listen to suggestions from cast and crew throughout the production. Indeed, I think the best directors do exactly that. I imagine what it would be like to work with actors skilled enough at improvisation, like Robert Downey, Jr and Emma Stone, and how using those talents could add even more to a script.
With the criticism being that many blockbusters offer little more than filmmaking by numbers, what better way to tap into more creativity by allowing your cast and crew to be more spontaneous, giving them the freedom to use their skills and talents, then putting that through the filter of your overall vision?