BY ANNETTE LANGE
Creativity, art, storytelling and cinematography is a fascinating world with seemingly no limits. It can heal, harden or soften hearts in ways nothing else can. With this ability comes great responsibility.
Most of us are fortunate enough to be allowed to create whatever we want. As wonderful as it is, it also creates the potential for danger and room for abuse. Hence the stigma of artists seeing themselves as above society’s rules and seeing no need to abide by them.
This entitlement for creative expression is often a breeding ground for selfishness and not of use to anyone. The options for artists to create are limitless and should by all means be explored, because it can simultaneously be a breeding ground for beauty.
Creative freedom shapes a culture and its humanity. One could almost say artists manufacture culture, because they help define cultural attitudes. Art, (in this case film), is the most accessible form of art and is not exclusive to certain social classes or ages.
There are countless movies which have impacted society and led to a change of law, culture or perspective. To name a few, after the release of Fatal Attraction, divorce rates dramatically decreased, Anti-interracial laws were abolished at the release of Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, Philadelphia provided a platform to discuss the taboo subject of HIV/AIDS, and the Star Wars saga was undoubtedly a contributor to popular culture.
And as present and future culture manufacturers, we have a responsibility towards our audience for what we create. Don’t simply create something without taking its consequences into consideration.
Filmmaking is hard work. And if you’re already putting so much effort and work into it, why not make it about something that will contribute to the betterment of humanity? Think about what your story promotes.
I’m not advocating you push for a certain message, because then your art becomes manipulative and self-promoting. It’s not your responsibility to change the whole world or create something which is forced. By all means, don’t produce something that is not genuine. Don’t compromise your uniqueness, but ask yourself if your uniqueness is being used to edify your audience.
MY PERSONAL INSPIRATION
A wonderful example of someone who has a great balance of art, personality, edification and truthfulness is Taika Waititi, director of Boy, What We Do in the Shadows, Hunt for the Wilder People and and most recently Thor: Ragnarok.
Waititi doesn’t apologize for who he is, but he doesn’t use his uniqueness to prove himself to anyone either. His stories are relatable and humorous, but they carry so much emotional weight. It doesn’t feel like he is trying to push a message on his audience, but they are left with food for thought, or at least a softened heart.
Your viewers are responsible for what they take away from the movie as well. But you’re still responsible for what your audience gets to see.
It is a great gift to create, and I admire everyone who is bold enough to create and vulnerable enough to show it to others – but, just be aware what your audience is left with when they go home after having seen your film.
You have the power to be an inspiration – whether is it temporary or long term – so let it move your audience to contribute to the betterment of humanity, no matter how big or small.