Billy Wilder: Filmmaking Masterclass
Billy Wilder is a legendary filmmaker, screenwriter, producer, artist and journalist, whose career spanned more than 50 years and 60 films. He is regarded as one of the most brilliant and versatile filmmakers of Hollywood’s golden age. Billy Wilder is one of only five people to have won Academy Awards as producer, director and screenwriter for the same film The Apartment (1960) , and was the first person to accomplish this.
You have to have a dream so you can get up in the morning. -Billy Wilder
There are few directors that had a career like Billy Wilder‘s. There are probably none that reached his level of skill and notability while staying as diverse as a storyteller. With six Oscars and a ridiculous list of incredible films under his belt, he’s a perfect legend for the filmmaking masterclass for film students, filmmakers and even film enthusiasts. Here is a interview from Writers Guild Foundation where Billy Wilder has talked about every aspect of filmmaking.
Isn’t that awesome? Who better can teach you filmmaking than the legend himself. Here are the main points from his interview.
On Structure Of A Film
Structure to me is … compare it with a building or house. You have to have a base where your house is gonna stand, you have to have walls, you have to have pillars that are gonna hold the roof, the staircases to take you to the next level. It is a mixture of architecture and storytelling.
The better the role, the better actor you should get and the good actors might be small. Most expensive doesn’t mean the best. The actor must impact and the audience mush wish to see him again and again. Every character should be written keeping the actor in mind. If you don’t get the specific actor then you loose 10% of the character.
On Developing Characters
You cannot a character of your friend and make him into murderer. First you have to believe in murderer and then you have to plant things… you have a character but you have to plant streaks in his character .. moments.. seconds.. where he makes decisions. If you write a good part help yourself to get a good actor.
On Camera Angles
I do not indulge in camera tricks. I keep my camerawork as simple as possible and as elegant as possible. I my opinion you should not see where the cut was, it should feel smooth naturally and logically. Directing is an extension to writing.
Advice To The Young Filmmakers
You can learn how to read, go to film schools and seminars, but you sill need a X factor that cannot be taught. Whats that X factor? The X factor is a gift of dramatize something, the gift to attract attention and keep the audience…grab ‘em by the throat and never let ‘em go. Even s*x isn’t hook for the audience these days. So you have to work hard in making your hook.
An audience is never wrong. An individual member of it may be an imbecile, but a thousand imbeciles together in the dark – that is critical genius
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