If you’re forging a path in an industry that lives and breathes creativity, there’s no doubt that the significance of finding your artistic voice has been constantly ingrained in you. Having a unique and compelling artistic voice especially as an emerging filmmaker is what’s going to separate you from the pack and give you a competitive edge in the dog-eat-dog world of Hollywood.
Your artistic voice is a vital element needed to help breathe life into your characters, give your story a distinct perspective that comes from your own life experiences, aspirations, personal style, and overall take on the human condition and the world we live in. These factors work together in making your story original, innovative, relatable, and universal.
While it may look easy on the surface, most creatives actually spend years struggling to find it. Not knowing your own voice as a storyteller could be detrimental to one’s creative process because it oftentimes serves as a compass to help guide you in the right direction, allow you to create masterpieces as well as make you a distinguished artist in your field. So, if you’re a filmmaker, writer, director, producer, or creative who is having a hard time finding your style and what kind of stories to tell, we have prepared some tips to help get you started on your creative journey in the entertainment industry.
Where do I begin?
If you look closely, filmmakers such as Quentin Tarantino, Martin Scorsese, Alfred Hitchcock, David Lynch, Tim Burton, and Wes Anderson have become household names of the entertainment industry for their exceptional and inimitable vision and style. From surrealism and experimental to violence and suspense to dark and gothic animation to symmetrical set pieces and vivid color palettes ― these styles have become genres of their own and could instantly suggest which filmmaker it’s pertaining to without the need to say their name out loud. These directors were audacious enough to color outside the lines and allow their creative voice to bleed through the pages and on-screen in the early stages of their careers, which is why they have remarkably stood out from the crowd and revolutionized cinema.
The reality of pursuing a career as a filmmaker is that you will have to compete with hundreds and thousands of Hollywood hopefuls who probably have similar ideas and goals as you. Therefore, those who get their foot in the door are the ones who are able to put a distinguishing piece of themselves that brings something fresh and original to what has been told time and again.
As an amateur or emerging filmmaker, something as simple as this is daunting because oftentimes, we haven’t fully developed or discovered who we are and what kind of message we want to put out into the world. So, how do we find our own voice and get it heard?
Finding one’s self seems to be one of those undertakings in life that we spend our entire lives figuring out. Our environment, culture, upbringing, education, and experiences in life collectively work together in shaping our unique identity, personality, and the purpose we serve in society. Knowing yourself from the inside and out is the basic and strongest foundation of your creative voice.
Usually, we use art as an outlet to express what we feel, think, and how we want to connect with others. To be able to discover ourselves and shape our art, we must be willing to open our minds to new things, ideologies, and experiences. Whether it’s through books, films, traveling, painting, acting, dancing, all these interests help us discover the things that inspire us and what we aspire to do for the rest of our lives as well as what we want to contribute to society.
We must be willing to open our minds to new things, ideologies, and experiences
After we decide whether we want to be a writer, director, or creative, we can narrow down our niche and acquire more advanced knowledge about it. While possessing the right talent and skills can get you somewhere, learning the tricks of the trade as well as the theoretical and practical aspects of the craft, will take you further. Getting an education is no longer limited to going to film school because one can now easily take free courses online, read books, or watch tutorials from professional filmmakers.
Quentin Tarantino is living proof that one does not need to go to film school in order to create masterpieces because at the end of the day, it’s all about having a positive mindset, the willpower, and initiative to learn from the masters, analyze old and new films, and simply go out there to apply what you have learned.
Understanding the past
In order to move forward, we must understand that we need to learn a great deal from the past. Sometimes, creatives have built a kind of ego that only believes in themselves and the work they do. However, in order to become a master of your craft, creatives tend to overlook the fact that the ones who often become iconic are those who took their time to learn from the people who came before them.
I remember in film school, it was mandatory for us to watch films from the golden age of cinema as well as to learn about the genres and filmmakers who birthed and shaped everything we know today about the art of filmmaking.
Ones who often become iconic are those who took their time to learn from the people who came before
For instance, Tarantino is another classic example of a director who ingeniously utilizes the past and shapes it into his own. He is known for mimicking and getting inspiration from other works of fellow directors. In his own words, “Great artists steal. They don’t do homages.”
“In 1997, his debut film, Reservoir Dogs, was under heavy scrutiny after a critic accused Tarantino of plagiarizing the 1987 Hong Kong crime film City on Fire. The final 20 minutes of City on Fire are essentially identical to the plot of Reservoir Dogs, and there are shots and moments scattered throughout that directly resemble each other, including this famous Mexican-standoff sequence.”
By knowing what was done before, we are more knowledgeable on the do’s and don’ts, how we could (respectfully) break the rules, cultivate our own style and bring something new to the table.
Making it Your Own
We’ve come to the most awaited stage that every filmmaker strives hard to achieve in their career. While learning is a constant endeavor that all artists should keep pursuing, at this point, we should now be able to use the technical knowledge, life experiences, beliefs, and perspectives we have acquired in our creative journey to solidify and incorporate our unique voice in the stories we are itching to tell.
For instance, you could be a filmmaker who is passionate about telling stories that uplift the marginalized and underrepresented communities, raise awareness on social issues, inspire the youth to follow their dreams, or educate society on various topics, and then be able to challenge yourself in finding creative ways to materialize these ideas into a visually-stunning narrative.
Challenge yourself in finding creative ways to materialize these ideas
Although, it’s worth noting that an emerging filmmaker will sometimes take time to build an audience and have their own style accepted by the industry. But we must always remember that the struggle is all part of the process of evolving and mastering your style as a filmmaker. The goal is to keep challenging one’s self by thinking outside the box and working towards adding something substantial to the conversation.
Making art or films for a living is one of the most rewarding endeavors in life because not only does it serve you individually, but what you create could also add value to people’s lives. Finding your own artistic voice requires allowing yourself to become vulnerable by sharing your opinions, beliefs, experiences, culture, and the stories of your own community to the world. Your voice has the ability to empower and make a difference in so many ways and don’t let anybody take that away from you. There may be thousands of stories that have already been told, but the world has yet to see the story that only you could tell.
CULTURE (counter, pop, and otherwise) and the people who shape it.