By Scott Shaw
At the heart of Zen Filmmaking is the ideology that, “The stories have all been told.” Therefore, why attempt to tell the same story that has been filmed a thousand times, over-and-over again, simply by providing it with a different title?
This is one of the primary reasons why in Zen Filmmaking we do not use scripts. Though the Zen Filmmaker may begin with an overview of a story concept, they allow the naturalness of non-defined organic, spiritual inspiration to be the only guide in the formation of the Zen Film. As nothing is etched in stone, (i.e., no script), the Zen Film is allowed to develop in a natural and unhindered process. From this, the Zen Filmmaker frees themselves from the constraints of a formalized story and enters into the world of artistic cinematic creation. By allowing the film to evolve in its own naturalness during the filming and particularity the editing process, many a Zen Film has been created.
There have been many Zen Film created with this technique as a foundation. But, the next evolution of Zen Filmmaking is the non-narrative film.
What is a non-narrative film? With no need to tell a story, an entire film is simply allowed to be what it is – constructed with film footage the Zen Filmmaker deems appropriate to edit into one cohesive product.
No story need be told, as all the stories have already been told. No definitions of filmmaking particulars need to be defined: such as a particular filming technique, delineated lighting, specific character development, or formalized editing. The footage that is shot is allowed to be what it is and is then put together via the freedom based, ongoing cinematic vision of the filmmaker.
Freedom is the essence of Zen. The non-narrative Zen Film is, therefore, the absolute embodiment of Zen.
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