I’ve been reading the fascinating book “Werner Herzog: A Guide for the Perplexed.” I’m a huge fan of the enigmatic German filmmaker, especially his approach to documentaries. Since I’ve been involved producing “The Insanity of God” and “Let Hope Rise: The Hillsong Movie” this year, documentaries have been on my mind a great deal. I particularly love Werner’s advice on breaking into the industry. I only wish I had heard this after graduating from college:
“The best advice I can offer to those heading into the world of film is not to wait for the system to finance your projects and for others to decide your fate. If you can’t afford to make a million-dollar film, raise $10,000 and produce it yourself. That’s all you need to make a feature film these days.
Beware of useless, bottom-rung secretarial jobs in film-production companies. Instead, so long as you are able-bodied, head out to where the real world is. Roll up your sleeves and work as a bouncer in a sex club or a warden in a lunatic asylum or a machine operator in a slaughterhouse. Drive a taxi for six months and you’ll have enough money to make a film. Walk on foot, learn languages and a craft or trade that has nothing to do with cinema.
Filmmaking — like great literature — must have experience of life at its foundation. Read Conrad or Hemingway and you can tell how much real life is in those books. A lot of what you see in my films isn’t invention; it’s very much life itself, my own life. If you have an image in your head, hold on to it because — as remote as it might seem — at some point you might be able to use it in a film. I have always sought to transform my own experiences and fantasies into cinema.”
How many of you followed that advice early in your career? Or like me – WISH you had?