Before You Invest in a Camera or Script, Get to Know Yourself

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Everyone perhaps knows that the amazing Denis Villeneuve film Arrival is out in the cinemas (You can watch it at Paradise Cinema now). It looks to be an amazing thought provoking sci-fi film, but behind the cameras of that film is a black man who is my age, practicing his craft at the highest level of Cinematography. His name is Bradford Young.

I’ll be honest, I was intrigued initially just because he was black, but what he said in an interview about the film Arrival and film-making truly inspired me.

“Only advise I can offer to any film maker or image maker or artist is that, having knowledge of self. Knowing who you are and where you come from is the most important tool you have. Its more important than a camera, its more important than a script, its more important than sound design, its more important than the editing.

Because all of those elements are informed by your accent, so before you invest in the camera, before you invest in writing the script ask yourself real serious questions about who you are and the stories that you want to tell. If you don’t see yourself in the story, if the story is not a reflection of a world you want to create, its probably not a story worth telling.

That’s just me, that’s just my own bias in terms of why I feel like filmkaing is an important artform, why its an important expression because its another ability like music, like painting, like sculpture, to …give the world…an interpretation…an imagination of a world that we want.

And so I think knowing who you are and where you come from is the most important thing. And before you go write Arrival tell a story about your grandmother, tell a story about your father, tell a story about your ancestors, those are the stories that we tell first. And then films like Arrival have a different meaning. You can bring more purpose to those films because you connect.

For me as I was making Arrival with Denis I was thinking about my children, I was thinking about the mortality of my children, I was thinking about my own mortality, when I was thinking about those things I was concerned about Denis’s children…and so those dont come, you know you have to live life, you have to be seasoned in life in order to like come to a realisation of those things in your artform and I think the way you become seasoned in your artform, the way you become partially realised, not fully realised, partially realised in your artform is when you are honest with who you are and you are relentless with your own accent and your own vision and your storytelling, artmaking process”

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