Monday 24 November 2014

J.J. Abrams: On Filmmaking

J.J. Abrams (Star Trek Into Darkness, Lost, Super 8) fills us in on balancing intimacy with hyperreality, why TV leaves room for surprises and the best advice he's ever been given.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

J.J. Abrams does not wish to be identified as having a particular directorial style, although he jokes that he is known for overusing lens flares.

He loves larger than life spectacle moments but it is important the characters are at the centre. Emotionally you know where you are and you are tracking characters that are taking you through. He strives for a balance of intimacy and the spectacle of hyper-reality.

He collaborated with writers on Star Trek, got to adjust scenes and make changes on the fly as actors discovered opportunities. In making Super-8 he felt he never figured out the script. This was an intimate filming experience, being away, with kids who were inexperienced actors, and a director of photography he had grown up with. Had to be responsible about budget. Felt it was his money being spent.

Making TV – TV is all about open-endedness, the evolution of the story, all about promise. The greatest pilot endings are those promising so much more to come. The downside is, it is a crazy leap of faith and you might not be sure where you are going. No one knows exactly how a series will end when they are writing the pilot. You may cast a character who is wrong, or you cast someone who is a genius and you wish to use him for the rest of the series. TV allows for more free-flowing creativity. Films require more disciplined story telling where there is less opportunity for smaller nuanced scenes which don’t serve the plot.

Movies are his favourite format.

The best advice he has ever received is from his father: It is more important to go and find out what movies are about rather than how to make movies. He left home state to go to a different college. This informed his storytelling, and his awareness of different social circles.

Other lessons learned along the way: Your voice is as important as someone else’s. You may not always be right and you shouldn’t be cocky and you should collaborate, not battle. But remember the thing you feel – if you really feel it, other people do too. Mine it and celebrate it.

Kids have access to cameras and editing equipment and visual effects, colour correction software of professional quality. Resources have been democratised so everyone has access to the tools to make movies. Go and make your movie.