Sunday, January 18, 2015

Werner Herzog - some thoughts on filmmaking and life


In 1982 Werner Herzog wrote and directed the movie Fitzcarrraldo which starred the eccentric Klaus Kinski. The film tells the story of how a steamship was dragged over a step hill to access rich rubber territory. I've been reading Conquest of the Useless Herzog's account of this adventure - it's a testament to his vision, endurance and courage.

Todays posting from the wonderful Open Culture offers 24 pieces of advice from Werner Herzog about life and filmmaking. Many of Herzog's suggestions apply equally to the business of still photography. Here they are:

1. Always take the initiative.
2. There is nothing wrong with spending a night in jail if it means getting the shot you need.
3. Send out all your dogs and one might return with prey.
4. Never wallow in your troubles; despair must be kept private and brief.
5. Learn to live with your mistakes.
6. Expand your knowledge and understanding of music and literature, old and modern.
7. That roll of unexposed celluloid you have in your hand might be the last in existence, so do something impressive with it.
8. There is never an excuse not to finish a film.
9. Carry bolt cutters everywhere.
10. Thwart institutional cowardice.
11. Ask for forgiveness, not permission.
12. Take your fate into your own hands.
13. Learn to read the inner essence of a landscape.
14. Ignite the fire within and explore unknown territory.
15. Walk straight ahead, never detour.
16. Manoeuvre and mislead, but always deliver.
17. Don’t be fearful of rejection.
18. Develop your own voice.
19. Day one is the point of no return.
20. A badge of honor is to fail a film theory class.
21. Chance is the lifeblood of cinema.
22. Guerrilla tactics are best.
23. Take revenge if need be.
24. Get used to the bear behind you.

There are lots of Herzog' links on the Open Culture post and on their home page more art and cultural material than you can ever get your head around.

You can see the Fitzcarraldo trailer on YouTube HERE.

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