The biggest confession of my life is what I want to start my Blogging journey with. This kind of confession is something that most film directors would never make about their own films out of the fear of regarding themselves as mediocre storytellers. But what they forget is that the audiences are smart enough to realize those mistakes in a filmmaker’s work themselves whether or not the filmmaker confesses to them or not. So without the fear of people regarding my current film portfolio is being bad or something horrendous, I want to confess to the worst storytelling mistake I made in my films.
I have been a storyteller and a film director for the past eight years. After writing, producing, directing and compiling a portfolio of 16 short films, I was still unable to gather an audience, break into film festivals, go onto making feature films, secure worldwide releases and achieve my ultimate goal of becoming a big time Hollywood director.
I thought the films I was making and the stories I was telling had the absolute potential to break out no matter what and there has to be something else that I must be doing wrong or there has to be a conspiracy taking place designed by the dreaded universe itself.
But one day, my brain sparked and I realized that I was not so special and that the universe was not designing any conspiracies against me. I was simply making the worst storytelling mistake which I possibly could have made and I would have been in a better position in my career if I only had the wisdom to keep on second guessing everything I did and every decision I made.
Back in 2008, the biggest director of today’s time, Christopher Nolan released one of the greatest films ever made, The Dark Knight. It was after watching this particular movie that I truly realized the true power of cinematic storytelling. There are many other great films out there other than The Dark Knight and a handful of inspiring directors out there like Christopher Nolan, but it was after watching this particular film that I realized my own dream of becoming a storyteller myself.
But I absolutely had no clue about storytelling in films or in general and where to even begin. So I dug up everything I could about storytelling and find out who has the creative control over it. After reading a little bit over here and a little bit over there, I found that it is the director who has the control over the storytelling in most cases if the producers and the studios let him do his job. So I started reading, learning and practicing to build up my own directorial muscles.
But amidst all of this, I was still unable to understand what was the driving force behind all the great films telling great stories? So I went back to the director who inspired me in the first place and started re-watching all of his films and became totally addicted to them, re-watching them every chance I could get in order to crack the code of telling great stories one after the other.
After watching Christopher Nolan’s films countless times, I realized that it was his cerebral non-linear narrative technique which makes his movies unforgettable and it was this technique which gives his movies the edge it needs to be popular in modern times. This analysis right there was the biggest mistake I made of concluding it the secret weapon inside Christopher Nolan’s arsenal. I pin pointed the wrong factor which made Christopher Nolan the famed film director that he is today.
So without further delaying and second guessing my analysis, I started writing and directing movies with non-linear narrative structure myself in the hopes of making great films and gathering a huge audience with it.
It worked brilliantly in the beginning, when I was still in my university days. People started looking at my storytelling as something fresh and intellectual to experience. But as my student life came to an end, so did the charm of my films and the life span of my crew.
All my collaborators moved onto doing TVCs, TV drama productions, documentaries etc. They basically moved on to doing anything other than film.
So I went out there and put together another team of collaborators. I once again, somehow began to churn out short films and releasing them online in the hopes of keeping the momentum up of my storytelling, but the audiences who were viewing my films were not really giving a damn about them anymore. Simultaneously, I was sending my films to film festivals around the globe only to be rejected by each and every one of them.
So at an age of 25, when my passion wasn’t really working for me even though I had been doing it for the past eight years, I was sitting in front of my balcony, observing the scenery, having a cup of coffee and trying to figure out what the hell went wrong and how the hell I ended up in the middle of this crisis where I don’t really know who the hell I am anymore.
Something sparked in my mind and I went back to the director who inspired me in the first place, Christopher Nolan. I began to re-watch all of his movies again but not in chronological order. I shuffled it a bit. I watched Memento, then Inception, then Prestige, then Batman Begins, then Insomnia, then the Following, then Interstellar, then The Dark Knight Rises. I left The Dark Knight for the last. The very moment that the last shot came and cut to black, it was then and there that I realized F***, I just spent the last eight years of my life working on films based on the wrong analysis I did of Christopher Nolan’s films a long time ago.
It was then that I realized the truth behind Nolan’s success. The secret sauce to his recipe wasn’t his cerebral narrative or the scope of the film or the mind twistiness of the story. His success lies in the cerebral, intellectual and smart main characters who are driven by intriguing motivations with highly difficult obstacles in front of them.
For example, the main character of Memento, Leonard Shelby. This man wants to catch the guy who murdered his wife but the obstacle he faces is that he can’t make new memories. Leonard develops an appreciation about memories related to small things that people take for granted, he develops to trust his own hand writing no matter what and he develops a way to give himself a puzzle which he would never be able to solve just to give a meaning to his own life.
Another example is the two main characters from The Prestige. Alfred Borden and Robert Angier. Just look at why these characters exist and what do they want to achieve. Each of them wants to be the greatest magician of all time and in the process they figure out that nothing means more to them than figuring out the great magic tricks and performing them successfully in front of a huge live audience just to make them wonder and rack up their smiles and applause. Not even their family means more to them as they slowly isolate themselves from love itself in the process of achieving their ambition.
Developing and bringing these kinds of characters to life is the element that Mr. Nolan is the ultimate master of and it was this particular element that has been the foundation of his storytelling, filmmaking and ultimate success.
No matter how big the budget, no matter how big the spectacle got and no matter how big the scope of his films got, his entire focus is always on making the audiences give a damn about his characters and this is something I failed to pin point in my very first analysis which became the pitfall of failure for me.
Once I realized the truth about my failure, my world came crashing down on me. I realized that I just spent a huge chunk of my life developing stories, blindly believing that they would work and it was all for nothing. All the sweat, all the long hours, all the brain draining moments gone down the drain leaving me nothing but a spectacular and a heart breaking revelation. It became the biggest twist of my life successfully rivaling that of The Sixth Sense written by M. Night Shayamalan where Bruce Willis finds out that he was dead way even before he began to work on his greatest case yet.
After the dust was settled and the tears were wiped, I don’t know where I get it from, but I decided not to throw in the towel and to give my passion another shot. The only problem is that I have exhausted all my resources, all my teams, all my collaborators and all my resources. I live in a country where artists are not really interested in creating films as it is the most difficult storytelling medium to work with.
Keeping all these things in mind, I decided to take my experience online through vlogs and blogs and try to connect with short filmmakers worldwide who would be open to collaborating with me. My role would be to write the screenplay and their role would be to produce and direct the film.
That is the goal which is driving me now, to connect with filmmakers and storytellers worldwide. No matter who you are, if you’re a director, if you’re a producer, if you have a team, if you have the resources and if you’re genuinely interested in making short films or feature films that would leave a mark on the world and get the people talking and then moving on to doing bigger things together, then I am genuinely interested in providing a story and a screenplay for you to work with.
We can genuinely work together from the opposite ends of the world, produce great movies, get people talking and finally get an entry into the landscape of Hollywood. Simply get in touch with me through my email at email@example.com and we’ll take our collaboration to the next step.
In the hopes to connect with filmmakers and storytellers worldwide, this is Mr. Zeecon, in the making of a great story.
If you think the mistake which I stated above was indeed the reason for my pitfall or is it something beyond of what I have analyzed, do let me know in the comments. You can check out my films over here to see what exactly I talked about and confessed to. I want your honest and genuine opinions so I can figure out how to write better stories, make better films and become a better storyteller.