Courtney’s View–March 12, 2012

I recently watched the 2006 movie Paris Je T’Aime, a gift given to me years ago that I had yet to watch. It is made of 18 different short vignettes about Paris directed by a variety of filmmakers. After the film, there is a documentary about the making of the movie. It interviews the directors and inquires about their process and thoughts about Paris. Regarding “Porte de Choisy,” director Christopher Doyle explains that he was trying to chose contradictions about Paris and show common ground between different cultures—that of China and France. Regarding his process he claims, “I think the point is that your materials or your words or your script or your actors take you in a certain direction and you should follow that direction. As opposed to saying let’s make a film noir or let’s make a film like this. No. No. We have these people; we’re going this direction. Let’s make this film as opposed to another film. I think that’s really important to me. That we do make the film that we can make; not necessarily the film we want to make.”
This comment struck me because I figured a director was in charge of all elements of his or her creation—having even more control than a writer might have in constructing the correct vision and image of the story in mind, instead of, say, being at the mercy of an ill-formed idea or one-dimensional characters, hallmarks of my writing experience.
“Let’s make this film,” keeps echoing in my head. “That we do make the film that we can make,” is a phrase I’m applying to my life choices and to my creative projects. Instead of pining for the perfect writer’s life or for any number of life events to align and render me able to express poems and stories in a way that lyrically explores language and connects to my audience, I’m starting to accept constraints and put together what can be put together.
A friend recently told me that she used to clean house for a nice, rich woman who once requested a vanilla bean from a high-end grocery store. My friend says that implementing expensive or rare ingredients does not, in itself, make one a good cook; rather, a good cook assesses the available ingredients and moves forward from there.
I’ve heard other people say that what makes a person creative isn’t her ability to write, paint, sing, etc. Instead, creativity is a tool at work in all aspects of a life. It’s the ability to respond to any number of factors–emotions, physicality, people, environments—and do something about those factors. It’s a gift that we all have. We all can make the film that we have, using the tools that we have. Whether, of course, that turns out to be a film at all is part of the mystery and excitement that comes with creativity.

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I strongly dislike just talking about me, so I took a poll and found that 7 people agreed, 18 disagreed, 4 disliked, 3 strongly disliked and 17 do not apply.
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