Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Zen Filmmaking: The Good, The Bad, and The People That Don’t Know What the F**k They’re Talking About



By Scott Shaw

            Ever since the inception of Zen Filmmaking, that was heralded with the release of The Roller Blade Seven, people have contacted me about my method of filmmaking. In the early days, it was largely via letters but soon after that everybody climbed onto the internet and then everybody had a lot to say.
            There have been a lot of people, over the years, who have actually contacted me and questioned, how do I do what I do. Those are the people I respect. Love my films or hate my films, they are the ones who cared enough to ask me what was actually going on. They came to the source and inquired. And, going to the source is the only way to gain true knowledge.
            Some of these people contacted me because they wanted to follow the path of Zen Filmmaking. That’s great! Make it your own…
            Early in my filmmaking career, (which you have to keep in mind did not begin until I was thirty-two years old so I had a lot of life-experience prior to that), I also began to see people coming to conclusions about what I did, how I did it, and why I did it. These discourses where then mostly entered into magazines that discussed the low budget, no budget, and cult level of filmmaking. In some cases, they got it right. But, in many, (in fact most), cases they were simply wrong. Yet, these people had a pulpit and from that pulpit they broadcasted their thoughts about Zen Filmmaking, Zen Films, and me out to the world.   
            As a professional researcher, I always found this method to be suspect, as these people were simply discussing their feelings that were not based in fact. Yet, they were presenting their opinions, observations, and speculations as if they were fact. This is truly the wrong way to put forward information to the world and this mindset is what has given birth to the whole culture of, “Fake News,” we are currently living within—as from these inaccurate depictions further counterfactual statements and misunderstandings are given birth to. People heard, “This,” and, thus, they believed, “That.” But, it is all based on bullshit. It is all based on somebody putting what they think they know out there but they do not have the true facts as they have not done any actual research. I know… I get it… Research is hard to do. It is time-consuming and it often costs money. It is so much easier to just read or hear something and then believe what you want to believe. But, the fact is, if you want to know the truth about a subject, (any subject), research is the only way to arrive at a factual and valid conclusion. And, you must enter into any research gathering with an open mind and not use it as simply a way to justify what you think you already know.
            Personally, in virtually all of the aforementioned cases, I found the discourses to be amusing. But, that’s just who I am. I easily poke fun at myself. If they weren’t flat out defamatory lies or someone making money off of one of my creations when they had no responsibility for its actualization, I was good.
            On the larger scale, I have always wondered why do people do this? Why do people want to spread their feelings about something or someone and, moreover, why do they want to transmit something out to the world when what they are saying is not based in fact but is solely based upon personal opinion, second-hand knowledge, and/or speculation? Sure, I understand, most people like something or someone for some nondescript reason but that reason is generally based upon them not possessing a true understanding about anything. Thus, what does that reason for like or dislike truly mean? Do you ever think about that when you form your opinions and from your opinions make your judgments which leads to your statements?
            As Zen Filmmaking is a defined form of filmmaking, many people have also taken aim at the craft. They have taken aim at it but all they know about it is that in Zen Filmmaking we do not use a script.  But, there is a lot more to it than that. And no, Zen Filmmaking is not just about showing up somewhere and seeing what happens next. So, if you’ve heard that, if you’ve believed that, if you’ve rebroadcast that, YOU ARE WRONG!
            Also, there have been a lot of people who have seen Roller Blade Seven or some clips from it and decided that was the epitome of Zen Filmmaking and all of my films are just like RB7. The fact is, a lot of people don’t get what Donald G. Jackson and I were trying to do with The Roller Blade Seven and they hate it. I get it! That movie is weird! If you don’t like weird movies you probably will hate it. But, think about this, we made that movie over twenty-five years ago—whatever you think about it: love it or hate; we did something right because people are still discussing it.
            On a more personal note, occasionally I have seen some people say, “Scott Shaw makes shitty movies,” and stuff like that. Okay… That’s what you think… But, how many of my movies have you actually seen? Many people make this comment after only seeing maybe Roller Blade Seven or Max Hell Frog Warrior. I have made a lot of movies! Honestly, how many of them have you seen? Have you seen any of my documentaries? Have you seen any of my music videos? Have you followed my filmmaking evolution and watched any of my Non-Narrative Zen Films, my Zen Film Art Captures, my Zen Film Movies in the Moment, or my Zen Film Mind Rides?  If you haven’t, then you have no idea what I’m doing. Moreover, if you have not read my written words on the subject of filmmaking, if you have not seen my interviews, if you have not met me, again, you are basing your opinion on a preconceived notion that you have no factual bases to possess. Love my movies, hate my movies, I get it… But, if you haven’t seen my films, if you don’t know my philosophy about filmmaking, if you have not actually spoken to me, then how can you judge anything?
            And, this goes to the whole point of this piece… Sure, you’re just a screen name out there in the nowhere of cyberspace. You will never have to pay for your cyber crimes. But, no matter what moniker you use, you should be whole enough to know the facts about what you’re talking about before you ever spew your misunderstandings out to the world. In other words, BE MORE. For me, that is the key to life. That is how the people who have truly excelled and made a contribution to the world have done it.  Care enough to care. Learn the true facts. Go to the source and ask before you speak. Be more than someone who talks about someone else, go out there and create your own something.

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