Film & I
Star Wars. When I was a kid, I loved Star Wars. I remember my parents letting me stay up past my bedtime to watch them on the telly and even as my eyes began to close from exhaustion, the films filled me with excitement and awe. And I still love Star Wars. I have literally watched episode 4 three times in one week. I love those films.
My love for film didn’t really kick in until I was about 18 though. Cinematic experiences were a bit of a let down when I was younger – watching a string of terrible films as a teenager meant I’d made the quick assumption that all films weren’t worth my time. But when I’d started my first illustration project while studying my Art Foundation, my focus soon fell heavily on films about memory. I watched Memento, Vanilla Sky, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind in a matter of a few days and they left me thinking ‘damn how come I didn’t know films could be interesting’. Suddenly I was exposed to good cinema and the influence it began to have on my life was enormous. That might sound a bit hyperbolic of me but films were starting to influence my opinion, mood and emotions and therefore, my art.
Films that will have the most influence on me and my work are the films that stay with me for days after watching them. They are the films that niggle at my brain, pull on my heartstrings and occasionally bring a tear to my eye. They completely transport me during the cinematic experience to wherever that film is, whether that be the physical setting of the film or the feeling that film is trying to evoke. I find myself connected to the character and/or the plot and imagine myself in their position – falling in love, losing a friend, being scared to jump off that building. I’m always grateful of that feeling of connection because it feeds into my work, even though it can leave me feeling a little emotionally tender.
A great example of a film that has created a connection for me recently is Nocturnal Animals. It was beautifully sad and I was left feeling guilty. ‘What if that was me? What if my surroundings were that sorrowful? Am I a bad person like that?’ were all I could think of that day. Suddenly I was Amy Adams’ character, being reminded of my own sadness and uncertainty. But I was also Jake Gyllenhaal’s character who felt crushing heartbreak and just like his character, I could only reflect those feelings onto my work. Even though this film had completely pushed me to my knees, I couldn’t help but be thankful about it. Nocturnal Animals helped me create artwork that I wouldn’t have created otherwise. It’s a beautiful film and the scene shown above was particularly immersive and heart breaking. Kudos Tom Ford.
My film taste now is quite selective, based solely on the need for having a particular post-film experience. My relationship with film has made me overly critical of films. I like to get right into the nitty-gritty of it and discuss all the fine details of the film (although a fear of embarrassing myself stops me sometimes) yet I wouldn’t consider myself a film snob. All I look for is a little more in return from a film. Give me something I don’t know, take me somewhere and at the very least dribble a little vision into my art.
So where will you see those film inspired dribbles in my work? Sometimes it’ll be painfully obvious, making you purse your lips like you’ve been told a bad joke (like my Star Wars work). But 9 times out of 10, it’s in the subtleties – a mood, a colour palette or a facial expression. Cinema is one of my greatest inspirations; it gives me both sides of the coin – a little joy and little sadness. Maybe that does make me a film snob.