From the Vault: 10 Tips For Becoming an Acclaimed Arthouse Film Director

I admit to being something of a narcissist in that I enjoy reading through old things I wrote. But sometimes that is a good thing, because I come across stuff that might actually be worth revisiting. Like this: A snarky list I wrote almost seven years ago in February 2006, on my old, personal blog – back when the Internet was still somewhat less “sharing” than it is now.

I thought I’d repost the list here. I seem to remember it was written following a viewing of, amongst other things, Dogville and the Bill Douglas Trilogy. But nothing much has changed in the last seven years, really. What are your thoughts?

10 Tips for Becoming an Acclaimed Arthouse Film Director

1. When you set out to make art films, the first thing you need is a Manifesto. Try to make it as crazy as possible, treat it as if it was a completely revolutionary new way of making films. Then, make exactly one film that adheres to the Manifesto.

2. When your first film is finished, claim that the Manifesto is bullshit and make all your other films in a completely different way.

3. As soon as you have made three films, claim that they form a trilogy. No art film director is complete without a trilogy. The three films don’t actually have to do anything with each other. Proclaim that you will continue making trilogies and let the critics figure out how your films connect. They will find somethng.

4. Bribe a critic you know and let him attribute you to some kind of stylistic movement. The name doesn’t really matter, but make sure the word ‘Realism’ is in there somewhere.

5. If Hollywood offers you to make a film for them for which you will get paid shitloads of money, decline. Renounce Hollywood and all its capitalist methods and say that you will never work for The Man. Then, a few years later, do it anyway.

6. Insist on casting one specific actor in every film you make. Insist on him (or her) playing parts that absolutely don’t fit him but claim that you have absolute faith in him pulling off the performance. For bonus points, cast a male actor to play a female part or vice versa. At some point, start a liaison with that actor. You get extra credit if he or she is (a) in some way related to you (b) of the same gender as you (c) a lot older or younger than you. When everybody has lost interest in the liaison, break it up big time and marry a childhood friend.

7. After you have made a few films, insist on shooting your next film with some kind of very crazy technique. This can range from simple black and white to digital cameras, original silver nitrate film, continous takes, split screens, silent films, DVD-Versions with multiple endings, whatever. Make up any crazy shiit and claim that you’re doing it because it helps you understand the essence of cinema.

8. Take on a new and interesting Identity after some films. Change your name, grow a long beard, let no one take pictures of you, move to a country in some remote part of the globe. Alternatively, announce your retirement from the world of filmmaking and instantly start working on a new film.

9. Before every film, announce that it is your most personal film yet.

10. Make a film about your childhood. Claim that this is the zenith of your work, that you always wanted to make that film and that only now you feel you are mature enough to make it. Better yet, make a trilogy about your childhood (see point 3). Don’t actually make it about your childhood though but about a kind of childhood the most important critics can identify with.

Bild: JJ Georges, CC-BY-SA

One thought on “From the Vault: 10 Tips For Becoming an Acclaimed Arthouse Film Director”

  1. Apparently Lars von Trier is the role model for your tips. He followed some of them however not on the crucial first steps of his career when he might have needed more a sort of media hype than at the time of Dogme (1995). Do you hate him like many film critics (and some of my colleagues) do?

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