By Scott Shaw
As I frequently discuss, hardly a week goes by that someone does not contact me about The Roller Blade Seven and wants to discuss some aspect of that Zen Film. Which is great! That’s fine! I get it… It’s a bizarre film. And, that is exactly what we had in mind when we created it. Though, in all honesty, that was never the vision I had for my film career when I first entered the industry. But, I’ve said all this before…
The thing about Roller Blade Seven and all the turmoil that surrounded its creation is, so many people see that film and believe that is where Zen Filmmaking ended. They think that somehow RB7 is the end-all culmination of Zen Filmmaking. It is not. In fact, due to all of the craziness during the Production, the Post Production, and the initial Distribution of RB7, one can conclude that RB7 is anything but true Zen Filmmaking. Yes, it is crazy. Yes, it is weird. Yes, we had a lot of fun making it. Yes, it has etched a place for itself in Cult Film History but did Zen Filmmaking begin and end with that film? No.
As each production possesses its own set of criteria and definitions, RB7 had its own, as well. And, that is what defines that film. But again, was what took place and what was presented on the screen in that film the end-all of Zen Filmmaking? No, not at all. That film just was what that film was. Nothing more, nothing less.
As I always tell everybody, Zen Filmmaking is never about the story. …The stories have all been told… Zen Filmmaking is about a visual cinematic experience. It is about invoking emotions and thoughts in the mind of the viewer. As each person brings their own set of standards and ideologies to every/any film that they watch, anyone who ever sees a Zen Film will come away with something different. …As they should…
FYI: I haven't made a narrative-driven Zen Film since 2009 so what most people who discuss Zen Filmmaking are talking about is actually ancient history.
The fact is, Zen Filmmaking is more about philosophy that about actual cinema. And, this is where so many critics and movie watchers get it wrong. It is about embracing a philosophic vision on the screen. As such, even if you project one never-ending single image on the screen, that can be Zen Filmmaking, if Zen Filmmaking is what you hope to invoke with that single image.
I know there are a couple of film schools that teach courses on Zen Filmmaking. Of course, none of them, (at least not yet), have invited me to come and give a seminar or be the actual instructor… But, that’s okay. I get it. They want to control the message—even though I am the one invented the message. Yeah sure, I own the Trademark. Yeah sure, I instigated and formalized the understanding. But, like I always say, “Make it your own…” You don’t have to do what I do to make a Zen Film. You simply have to do what you do.
Zen Filmmaking is about the freedom of naturalness. It is not about following any film formula that I may have used in the past. From this very definition it gives rise to the understanding that there are no definitions. …Not even the definition of no definition. …As isn’t that the ultimate understanding of Zen?
So, for all you people out there writing and talking about RB7, remember that was the beginning of Zen Filmmaking, it was not the end. It keeps changing. It keeps evolving. So please, don’t hold myself, my filmmaking, or other Zen Filmmakers locked into that place in time. That was there. That was then. Now, I am here. Where are you?
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