Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Zen Film Movies in the Moment



By Scott Shaw

            As I often detail, life is lived in the moment. Our life is made up of days, weeks, years, decades, but it is the precise occurrences that take place within specific moments of our life that we live to the utmost and truly remember.
            From a filmmaking perspective, when a movie is moving being filmed, we shoot all kinds of footage to bring together and create a feature film. For those of us who are cinematographers we try to capture images in the best and most artistic manner possible. For those of us who have edited movies, there is no doubt, we have seen specific moments within the entirety of the filmed footage that are truly interesting; presenting a visually stimulating image and possibly even giving birth to cinematic satori. As the editor of the film, perhaps that image is beautiful or thought-provoking but as it contributes nothing to the greater whole of the film being constructed, that scene is left behind and probably lost forever. 
            Zen Filmmaking is ultimately about forging a pathway to cinematic enlightenment. It is about taking the art form of filmmaking and creating something artistic, interesting, and mentally stimulating, while removing as many preconceived notions and obstacles as possible.
            Zen filmmaking is not a stagnate entity. It is forever evolving.
            More recently, the evolution of Zen Filmmaking involved the Non-Narrative Zen Film. Now, the next evolution of Zen Filmmaking is, “Movies in the Moment.”  What is a Zen Film: Movie in the Moment?  It is capturing a moving image, whether intentionally or not, and allowing it to find its own perfection on the screen. Whether this moving image exists in its own perfection for a few seconds or a couple of minutes it is allowed to be whole and complete onto itself; seeking no definition other than letting it be what it is.
            In traditional filmmaking you conceive, stage, light, and then film your subject. This is not the case with a Zen Film: Movie in the Moment. For a Movie in the Moment exists in its own perfection. It is simply you, as the witness, seeing the art and capturing it.
            In today’s world, capturing moving images has become as immediate as those transient images themselves. As such, a Zen Film: Movie in the Moment is the perfect art form for today.  It is free, it is easy, it holds no rules, no definitions, and it is perfect onto itself. It it simply the artistic vision of the individual who notices, realizes, and then films what is taking place.  
            Let your creative mind wander and when you a witness a moment that should be captured, do it. Create art.
            At the Zen Film Movies in the Moment Playlist on the Scott Shaw Zen Filmmaking page on YouTube you can see some of the images I have grabbed and cast to eternity.
            No rules. No definition. No Judgment. Just art.

Copyright © 2016 – All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Making Something Out of Nothing



By Scott Shaw

            The world of filmmaking is something that is entered into by very few people. Yes, most everyone watches films and many have their opinions about the films that they have seen but few people have the creativity, desire, focus, and the fortitude to actually make a film. It is not easy.
            I often speak about how filmmaking was much harder and way more expensive a decade or two ago. Back then, before the digital revolution, everything was shot on film. And, when shooting on film you could never see what you had actually captured until that film was developed and put into a format where it could be viewed. Then, you had to sync the sound and edit the footage. All, very expensive. 
            The formula was, you could calculate approximately $1,000.00 a minute to shoot a 16mm film. As a feature length film is eighty-two minutes plus, you would basically calculate a $90,000.00 budget to complete an independent feature film. When we created Roller Blade Seven in 16mm for $30,000.00 it was quite an accomplishment and almost unheard of.  
            Then came the video revolution and next the digital revolution. People have now shot entire feature films, that have been shown on the silver screen, on their iPhone. Not only has filmmaking become exponentially cheaper, it is vastly more easily done, as well.
            All this being said, though filmmaking has become much easier and cheaper, still very few people step up to the filmmaking plate and actually create a feature length film. Yes, people talk and talk about the films other people have created. Some say, “They could do it better.” Some even state that, “Someday,” they will make their own. But, that someday never comes. All they do is talk.
            At the heart of filmmaking is creating something out of nothing. You have an idea for a film and then you find a way to get that film made both financially and technically. Then, you put together the cast and the crew and you actually create the vision that is your mind. Can you do that? Few people have.
            Here lies the essence of the arts. This is the factor that defines the true artist from those who all they have is their words.  An artist envisions their art, then they find a way to create their art. It is not easy. It takes a lot of work. It takes a lot of focused creative energy. But, once it is done, it is done, and art has been created. Loved or hated is not the sourcepoint of art. The creating of the art is the sourcepoint of the art and very few can actually do that. So, all we are left with is those who talk about the art others have created.
            Who are you? How do you live your life? Is your life defined by talking about the creations of others or is your life defined by creating your own art? Are you someone who can actually make something out of nothing?

Copyright © 2016 – All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Film Reviewers: Fact or Fiction

By Scott Shaw

            Ever since I first got into the filmmaking game I quickly began to realize that a lot of the magazines and even the authors of books put out fiction and claimed it to be fact. This has really intensified at the point when everybody got a voice on the internet. You don’t have to have any credentials anymore, so all kinds of people began saying all kinds of things – many of which had absolutely no basis in fact.
            When magazines and books began to discuss my films, back in the early 1990s, I quickly realized that many of them did not check their facts at all! They were stating a lot of things about my films, their development, who did what, and why, and all the etcetera… But, they were totally wrong!
      I think most people do not realize this. They read what they read and instantly believe it. It’s in a magazine, it’s in a book, or even, it’s on a website – it must be true; right? No, many times it is not.
      And then, reviewers have gone on to misquote me and my associates; taking our words out of context, and then writing a whole piece about what we or I said in order to get their own point of view across and somehow gain validity for it by jumbling the words of their source. That is just hatchet journalism. And, I can say that with some authority as I have had well over a thousand articles published and none of my editors would ever have let me do that.
            I have long thought to write a piece titled, “Reviewing the Reviewers.” I am sure I will get around to that a some point.
      Perhaps the biggest fault of those who write on the subject of film is that they base what they write upon their own appraisal of a project. They are not so much presenting the reality of the film or of a filmmaker’s process but, instead, they write what they think about the project and then disguise it as a literally discussion.
            A few of the funny things that come to mind that authors and reviewers have gotten totally wrong about my films are: one author totally got the title of The Roller Blade Seven wrong in his book, “Blade of the Roller Seven.” One magazine article, said that the frog masks we used in Max Hell Frog Warrior were poor imitations of the ones uses in Hell Comes to Frogtown. In fact, they were the exact same masks! One author claimed that the Asia scenes in Undercover X were actually filmed in L.A.’s Chinatown. I guess he didn’t take the time to read the writing on the signs or view the license plates on the cars. That was Tokyo and Seoul! One of the funniest, at least to me, was one author in his book detailed that one of the lead characters in Killer: Dead or Alive was my wife. I’m sure the actress that played that part was surprised to find out that we were married.
      Those are just a few examples… It goes on all over the place.
      And, on the internet, oh my god! The totally wrong things that they write and say…
      Personally, I find all of this amusing. Some of my filmmaking friends are not so jovial as I am and get really upset.
      But, this is the reality of life. People say or write what they write from their own perspective. And now, in the digital age, Andy Warhol’s prediction has come to pass, “Everybody gets fifteen minutes of fame.” Some people just choose to gain theirs by reviewing and discussing the works of others. And, in many cases, they base what they say upon fiction, not fact.

Copyright © 2009 – All Rights Reserved.