Gotta Sharpen My Dull Brain!

27 Mar

Cooking is my penultimate passion, which is why I have my three primary knives routinely sharpened.  Dull knives are dangerous, ineffective, and downright frustrating.

Filmmaking is my ultimate passion, which is why I must have my brain routinely sharpened.  Like my knives, my creativity often goes dull with use.  I get tired, lazy, and develop bad habits.  Cliche begins to abound and, worse, I begin to believe I’m a lot better than I really am!  This is dangerous, ineffective and downright frustrating.  

Fortunately, it’s not hard to sharpen the filmmaking mind these days.  Here are some of my favorite ways:

Criterion DVD commentaries: unlike most commentaries where the cast and crew simply think out loud and share inside jokes, Criterion DVD commentaries feature eminent film scholars, critics and thinkers who have almost always thought through what they will discuss.

Insightful Blogs: There seems to be more blogs than humans; nonetheless, there certainly are diamonds in the rough worthy of your email inbox.  My favorites are Robert Genn, Seth Godin, Ted Hope, and fellow filmmaker/cook, Tom Provost.

Revival Movie Screenings: unfortunately not available everywhere, revival screenings of classic films truly inspires.  You get to see films on the big screen, the way they were meant to be seen.  My beloved theatre in LA is the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood.

Seminars: though filmmaking seminars and panel discussions have become a dime-a-dozen, some remain to be the real deal, full of insight and wisdom.  My two favorites in LA are Thomas Ethan Harris and Mark Stolaroff’s No Budget Film School.

Books: these too are a dime-a-dozen, but a careful Amazon search can lead to gold.  My go-to books have been Transcendental Style in Film by Paul Schrader and Cassavetes on Cassevetes by Ray Carney.

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7 Responses to “Gotta Sharpen My Dull Brain!”

  1. onfoodandfilm March 29, 2012 at 8:59 am #

    Thanks for the shout out! And excellent post. Two “must have” books for filmmakers, IMHO:

    Mark Harris, “Pictures at the Revolution” … very entertaining and extremely informative book about the shift in Hollywood in the late 60’s. It spans much more than that era, though and works as both a terrific history book and a great book to learn the ideas and techniques from some of the best filmmakers at the time.

    Steven Bach, “Final Cut” … while in some ways perhaps a little dated as to the inner workings of Hollywood, it mostly is still very relevant and the stuff about what happens on a set when a film spirals out of control is not dated at all. It reads like a thriller, is also funny and scary and very entertaining.

    • Christopher March 29, 2012 at 9:15 am #

      Sweet, thanks for adding to the list, Tom!

    • georgiaannejackson April 8, 2012 at 1:42 pm #

      WHile being a bit befuddled and dulled down, we came up with a nice little experiemental scifi horror short – Abel and Cain. It begs and answer to “What inspires you?” Intellect or Physical Desire… posed in David Lynch fashion.

      http://www.facebook.com/abelandcainmovie

  2. dolbsterthepoet March 27, 2012 at 2:32 am #

    Great post and I love your blog. Now following. Look forward to reading more.

    • Christopher March 27, 2012 at 11:36 am #

      Much appreciated! Hope you enjoy….

  3. Vividhunter March 27, 2012 at 2:12 am #

    Very helpful post, thanks!

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