Filmmakers’ Filmmaking Manifesto

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The manifesto is made up of filmmakers whose work I admire (although the list is clearly not exhaustive), along with quotes that resonate, and articulate something that was previously only a vague feeling.

It is intended as an aide memoire during production for Distracted; a quick hit of inspiration, to help overcome a bout of cowardice, and to disperse a fugg.


1. Make visible what, without you, might perhaps never have been seen.
2. Just don’t be afraid of anything and don’t be afraid of anyone. Never quit. Never give up.
3. Never compromise.
4. The artist is the medium between his fantasies and the rest of the world
5. Know that your work speaks only to those on the same wavelength as you.
6. The cinema substitutes for our gaze a world more in harmony with our desires.
7. A film’s no good unless the camera is an eye in the mind of a poet.
8. Master precision. Be a precision instrument yourself.
9. An old thing becomes new if you detach it from what usually surrounds it.
10. Isn’t it better to realise your dreams, to fight and to lose, rather than gripe and pine away in silence.
11. The history of cinema is rich and any film you make now will refer to 20 other films made in the past 100 years.
12. What people criticise in you, cultivate. It is you.
13. An artist can accomplish anything provided he doesn’t accept facts or defeat for more than a few minutes.
14. Mystery is the essential element of every work of art.
15. The truth is in the mystery.
16. Man is a genius when he is dreaming.
17. Give me two hours a day of activity and I’ll take the other 22 in dreams.
18. Waking dreams are as important, as unpredictable, and as powerful as those we have when we’re asleep.
19. The enemy of art is the absence of limitations.
20. Write what people would really say and then artificialize just enough so it becomes a beautiful object.
21. Great actors unmask you, bring dreams that you’ve had, but haven’t expressed, to light.
22. Learn to ask: what does the character want? What does he do to get it? What is that like in my experience?
23. Art is about the spontaneous connection of the artist to his own unconscious – about insight beyond reason. If his insight were reasonable, anyone could do it, but anyone cannot. Only few can, and they are called.
24. Do not internalise the industrial model. You are not one of the myriad of interchangeable pieces, but a unique human being, and if you’ve got something to say, say it, and think well of yourself while you’re learning to say it better.
25. Art meaning we will enjoy ourselves and express ourselves freely.
26. Direct to revel in your individuality.
27. True realism reveals the surprising things which habit keeps covered and prevents us from seeing.
28. In the end, everything is a gag.
29.  Viewers to come away from my films unsure whether they’ve understood them.  They should leave wondering.
30. There is no end. There is no beginning. There is only the infinite passion for life.
31. A work of art must not define everything for the viewers.
32. People to feel a film before understanding it. Feelings to arise before intellect.

Key: 1, 8, 9, 32 Robert Bresson; 2, 10, 13, 25, 26 John Cassavetes; 3 Mike Leigh; 4, 30 Federico Fellini; 5, 12, 27 Jean Cocteau; 6 Jean-Luc Godard; 7, 19 Orson Welles; 11 Jacques Rivette; 14, 17, 18 Luis Bunuel; 15, 16 Akira Kurosawa; 20 Hal Hartley; 21, 31 Jean Renoir; 22, 23, 24, David Mamet; 28 Charlie Chaplin; 29 Jean-Pierre Melville.

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