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Thursday 5 August 2010

Film Watching Guilt

The key to this business, aside from having a rich Uncle with a Jewish surname who lives in LA, is to watch a lot of movies. The more you watch, the more you understand storytelling. The more you watch, the more you get what it truly is to be a truthful actor. The more you watch, the more you understand what makes a truly great scene great. There is no end to this --- literally, if you watch three films today instead of two, you're going to learn more. We should be clambering to watch films all the time... waking up early to watch a DVD, glancing down at videos on your iPhone during long train journeys, and staying up two hours late to watch 'Shawshank Redemption' for the 9th time in two months. In fact, there was a time we were like this. But then, we started listening to this.

Is that all you do, sit around watching movies all day?

Couldn't you do something more productive instead? Like WORK?

You've seen that already.

How's it going sitting at home watching your little movies?

Stop watching movies and actually do something with your life.

Before you know it -- every time you watch a film, you hear a voice saying "get up! do something! write a script! earn some money! be productive!" Despite all of your youth being incredibly enlightening and productive and inspiring and driving you towards your SOLE GOAL in life - to CREATE, instead; you start smashing up against it--- building a giant wall the size of a giant wall which stops you from ever settling. You start to sneak past the wall late at night, when it's late enough to not be 'the time people do productive things' but not so late that you look like 'someone who can stay up late because they're a waster' and you sneakily watch a film. But even then, you struggle, because this voice in your head is saying "is that all you do, watch movies? you waster!"

So now your Uncle and the florist and the guy who hates his job and his life and his wife; they all are in your head and they're telling you to stop watching movies. So you have this big giant wall the size of a big giant wall and you keep climbing over it onto both sides... every time you're watching a movie the voice says "BE PRODUCTIVE! DO SOMETHING!" so you climb over to the other side. And every time you're on that side there's a part of you that says "I love movies! I need movies! Movies are my everything!" -- so you climb to the other side. But you keep climbing and you keep feeling TIRED because somehow you've got caught between who you are, where you're going, and where everyone thinks you need to be.

If you write, or direct, or produce, or act, or dream, or design, or want to take a different route in life; then watching movies is absolutely essential. We are here, precisely, to WATCH movies, LEARN from movies and then CREATE movies. That's why we're here. Stop denying it, celebrate it. To watch movies is to be productive. To watch movies is to jump fifty steps towards your ultimate goal in life. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

"It enters through a different opening in your body. For instance, in order to be a jazz musician, you have to listen and listen and listen to a lot of Jazz. And that's an act of love. You don't think, I'm listening to study it. You just listen because you love it. And you love it, and love it... and gradually you learn. You really learn everything valuable through osmosis. It's the same with play-writing or movie-directing or acting. You love either reading or watching films or plays or listening to music. And in some way, over the years, without making any attempt, it gets into your blood, into the fibre of your body or something. If you want to teach someone film-directing, you could almost say, 'just keep going to the movies, and it will pass into your body."

-Woody Allen

Three Time Academy Award Winner.


  1. Aw, I love it. And the quote is fantastic. We all need a voice in our head that says "I know you learn by doing things that most people do for fun, and I know people think that's lazy- but it's ok! I understand that you need to do that. So go ahead- enjoy!"

    But seeing as nobody has such a well wishing inner critic, it's just as well we have you, Kid.

  2. "But seeing as nobody has such a well wishing inner critic, it's just as well we have you, Kid."

    Manda, that is like the nicest thing anyone's ever said to me. Thanks!

  3. So glad I found a kindred spirit like you, Kid. Your blog keeps reminding me why I stay in this merry-go-round of a business. Here is a taste of my own little struggle:

  4. I've got three modes of movie watching:
    1) Pure enjoyment, with decades of experience
    2) For study; scene conflict construction, for instance
    3) I'll start out studying, and then get pulled onto the ride. The Fugitive, Silence of the Lambs, Raiders... are just too seductive and fun to be serious about.

  5. I am not a screenwriter, though the thought has entered my mind. I do, however, watch the same movies over and over. My husband hates it. He makes fun of me constantly because I do this. Next time he says something, I'm just going to say, "Hey, all the great screenwriters do it. Don't you know anything about the industry??"

    Thank you so much for giving me a license to watch Little Children on a loop all summer. :)

  6. Good stuff I can totally relate. What I really like is watching movies I watched when I was young all over again when I'm older. When you're young and really liked a movie there's that scene you really liked, but you were too young to really understand why. It isn't until your older that you understood why you liked that movie/scene. Again I like the thought!

  7. Thanks for the new comments TV and TehViray.. totally agree.

  8. Just stumbled on this post and I'd like to thank you.
    I'm a dancer and have been for many years. I've wanted to make choreography my career for nearly as long. However, lately I've been letting those practical voices dictate how much I put into it. Reading this has shaken me up a bit, reminded me that the likelihood of failure is 100% if I let their disapproval stop me from dancing.

    Thanks again for the post, Kid. One more thing: I'd like to ask your permission to print a copy of this post and put it on my wall... as a reminder to take my dream seriously no matter who doesn't.

  9. Kate, of course you have my permission to put it on your wall. In fact, I think you should put it on other people's walls too! :D

    Thanks so much for your kind words!