Martin Scorsese, speaking with Keanu Reeves in Chris Kenneally's SIDE BY SIDE (2012), posed a fascinating and important question to today’s digital filmmakers:
Where do you get nourishment...culturally, artistically, intellectually?
This is not only a valid question for contemporary filmmakers, but one for our forbears as well.
Just where are we getting our ideas, anyway?
I think most film artists draw from two primary sources—both of them experiential in nature, neither very nourishing—What Has Happened to Me, and What Has Happened in the Movies.
Perhaps useful for one’s mental and spiritual health, What Has Happened to Me is, by definition, far too insular to nourish a film artist’s sense of his place in the world, technique, or intellect. If I have only my personal experiences to fill my creative imagination, my work will be brittle, myopic.
Worse, if I nourish my creativity with just What Has Happened in the Movies, my work will be derivative, cliché…or god forbid, pretentious.
Where does Martin Scorsese go to nourish his film imagination? Where did Chaplin go? Hitchcock? Ford? Where do contemporary filmmakers go?
In the coming months, I plan to look into various filmmakers—past and present—in search of their “nourishing resources,” and in doing so, identify my own.