Schindler’s List. Eraserhead. The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence). Roma.
What do these classic films have in common? They’re all works of art. And coincidentally, also black and white. Now, I’m not saying all works of art must be in black and white, but if you’re struggling to make something that has people scratching their heads, definitely desaturate.
As filmmakers, we all struggle to create things that have an impact; on people, the world, culture, cinema as a whole. Most of the time, however, we end up making fluff. Movies that hold no significant value aside from entertainment are respectable and a difficult challenge in their own right, but what we really want is to make art.
Art inspires. Art makes a difference. Art wins Oscars.
Art is also pretentious, so I suggest you avoid making it at all costs. Do something more fun, like a zombie movie or a western. Make movies that your grandparents don’t like. Try to be commercial. Strive to be picked up by Netflix. Sell out! Pay your bills! And certainly never try to make art.
“But art wins Oscars!”
Yes, that’s true. Unfortunately, there is no Outstanding Achievement in Popular Film category at the Academy. You can make oodles of money, but film snobs may never have your posters hanging on their dorm room walls…
Thank God for Black and White.
Slap it on anything you shoot. Music videos. Weddings. Travel Vlogs. It doesn’t matter! The instant you make it monochrome, the world views it as art. And now, you’re an artist. It’s time to reap the benefits. No longer are you bound to restrictions placed upon you by your family, peers, and the rules of filmmaking. You can do whatever you want in the name of art. You can make an artistic zombie movie or western! If you wanna get really artsy, have just one item in the film be in color… That’s right, we’re making films now. Movies are too mainstream. When was the last time you saw a movie in black and white? Black and white films are much more common.
But don’t forget, you’re not making art. You’re making movies that have the appearance of art. You don’t want your new found artistry to go to your head. Keep making the things that fuel your enthusiasm. Take risks, experiment, break some rules, but don’t be pretentious (unless that’s your thing). And if you can do all of this the right way, maybe you’ll end up making real art regardless.