Being a filmmaker is about infusing life within a vision but being a great filmmaker requires more than passion alone, it is a methodical process that finds the inner self liberated on screen.
Throughout the years, some prominent names have burst into the scene, producing special filming styles, pretty much the visual projections of the director.
From brilliant colour saturations to recurring themes, consistent story structures and pristine cinematography, here are some filmmakers who have truly forged a lasting impression in the film industry:
“Get Ready…Fight!” (Credits: Charlein Gracia on Unsplash)
With his long flowing hair and calm demeanour, it is easy to mistake the godfather of action-packed Hongkong films as a peace-loving hippy.
Film Director Yau was the creative force behind the beautiful beginning and exciting conclusion of the Ip Man saga, based on the true-life story of the martial arts master who stood up against insurmountable odds to set up a school that imparted his unorthodox ways of the traditional Wing Chun style.
Movies The legend is born: Ip Man (2010) and Ip Man: The Final Fight (2013) sensationalised those events respectively.
Rebellion / Tung Moon (2009) is another Herman Yau headliner. An action-thriller about five barely tolerant gangs set in Kowloon, Hongkong that leads to a crisis of hoodlum and anarchy. Boundaries are crossed when one of the triad leaders is shot by an unidentified assailant.
The movie promises action enthusiasts pulse-racing gang fight sequences, copious violence and unadulterated brutality. The biggest draw in the film however, is its whodunit element, investigating and hunting down the party who had tossed the first stone.
The movie is peppered with humour despite its serious triad world setting, presenting the fancy antics of gang members in an often-outrageous fashion.
Although the plot is predictable from a kilometer away, the entertaining content remains enjoyable for viewers.
Yau has reached legendary status with his exceptional storytelling skills through a blend of well-timed humour and action-jammed scenes.
“A Sono puzzle, can you collect them all?” (Credits: Pixabay)
Few individuals are as ambitiously gutsy when it comes down to film-making as this avant- garde director, who gained notoriety as the most subversive filmmaker in modern Japan.
Notable works include the 4-hour long visual bonanza, Love Exposure(2008), a comedic drama hit revolving around several controversial topics squeezed into a single film.
Its original content was a lengthy 6-hours long seating but was trimmed at the behest of concerned producers. Love Exposure won multiple festival film awards during its release and remains a crowd favourite.
The story follows Yū, a devout catholic boy whose father decides to become a priest upon the passing of his Mother. Upon being pressured for confession by his (slightly mental) “reborn” father, Yū seeks radical changes to his lifestyle to provide the worthy sins his father yearns to absolve.
The wacky plot is complex, involving several attention-grabbing themes (the protagonist trains in the forbidden art of upskirt photography and cross-dresses while kissing the first girl he likes) and complicated character relationships.
Sion would have it no other way. Elaborate plots have become the hallmark of a Sono piece.
“Hear ye, abandon all you love and hold dear, we are entering Noe-territory” (Credits: Icon0.com)
“A disturbance in the wave” might be the ideal phrase to describe this Cannes Film Festival Award-winning director.
An assault on the nerves, a rebel of convention and true-blue provocateur is Gaspar Noe. One of his movies, Love, was banned by the Russian government and compared to the dismal piece of literature by Hitler, the Mein Kampf.
However, it is precisely his method of madness that makes Noe endearing to his fans.
Gaspar Noe rams boundaries each time.
In irréversible (2002), there was a gruesome scene whereby a man had his face smashed to a pulp with a fire extinguisher , all in an unflinching sequence.
In another scene from the same movie, a woman is repeatedly raped while in a tunnel. The entire sequence is relentless as it seeks to challenge the mental resilience of the audience.
The Argentina-born filmmaker favours confrontational topics and teases audiences by “smashing the fourth wall.” This tactic, bolstered with his use of provocative images and engaging in-your-face scenarios, has been the winning formula for Noe.
To some reviewers, watching a Gaspar Noe film is like being taken to hell and back in a speed cruiser.
Noe recounted that it was Stanley Kubrick who inspired him to become a filmmaker when he watched A Space Odyssey:2001 (1968), at the age of seven.
Perhaps the masterful execution of the legendary auteur (a stylistic director who exemplifies pieces of himself/herself through the production) influenced Noe to create his uniquely perverse universe.
His latest film, Climax (2018), is a story about a bunch of young performers who rehearse for a musical. The oblivious youngsters convene at a hall and they begin to get down to the jive but unbeknownst to them, the drinks they down have been laced with potent LSD. As the night progresses, weird hallucinogenic effects begin to play out in their heads, eventually leading them toward stark madness. Go figure.
Best known for his 1995 twisted piece, Kids, the director is also known for his contributions to photography.
“Far from normal compared to this sea-gazing kids” (Credits: Sammie Vasquez on Unsplash)
The movie Kids is a disturbing journey of a teenage boy ravaged in the head. He decides to bed as many virgin girls as he round ups but here comes the punch…
He is HIV-positive, and leaves the damsels clueless about that vital fact.
For the film, Clark hired actors who were relative unknowns in the scene. Many film directors get fresh faces for an unmolested feel of human expression and emotions. The most unsettling thing was that the movie depicted real life situations and how they went down in the neighborhoods of New York, through its cesspool society.
The film hovered a magnifying glass over the concept of how people were living in a world fraught with troubling narratives and damaged youths.
It was controversial and even dubbed ‘’nihilistic pornography’’, yet it was gobbled down by the masses.
This was largely because it raised a whole load of attention by taking a subject often boycotted or shoved beneath a rug, and catapulting it onto the big screens, as if saying “we have a nasty trend within our society, take a nice look at it.”
The movie was meaningful in a sense that it involved several firsts, beyond the experiences of the virgins who were harvested by the cunning lead.
The script was written by Harmony Korine, a teenager at the time who had never professionally written, teenage actors who had never acted and topping it off, Clark, who was a photographer with zero experience being in the chair of a film director.
But it all worked out in the end because of the extent in the realistic perspectives portrayed, excluding the copious amount of reel sex. It was a story that tested moral boundaries but drew attention and appreciation through painting the portrait of counterculture life.
Lars Von Trier
“Give the director smoke over white and he churns you a story.” (Credits: Tookapic pexels.com)
We finish off the list nicely with the Danish Film-director who brought us the Antichrist (2009).
Von Trier is bound to obtain a reaction through his films. That is a near certainty.
With the exceptional application of a personal stylistic doctrine (it really is a rigid set of rules), his films are standout and believes that each director should discover his/her niche through “obstructive creativity.”
Von Trier teaches that restriction is a necessity when it comes down to artistic expressionism as it forces the thinker to shore up on creativity to deal with a situation. This would manifest as a movement started by Von Trier and a fellow director, Thomas Vinterberg, called Dogme 95.
It was a controversial movement, but it proved effective and influenced the creation of future films.
The goal was to reduce or remove special effects and all the smokes and mirrors that modern directors had begun to lazily depend upon. Von Trier wished to restore the dignity in acting and film-making as an art form, to quit being a mere parasite to technological devices.
The stripped cinematography of Von Trier is well-displayed in the film, Dogville (2003), where the story of a woman escaping the pursuit of criminal scum is played out on a soundstage with minimal set up.
The movie exhibits the unique Dogme 95 style, forcing audiences to visualize the small-town premise where the story occurs. It can prove difficult for the visually-spoilt audience however, with painfully-prominent sights of naked door frames, stage floor markings and props.
What might be considered a “lazy” set-up by mainstream audiences, when studied, provides an insightful lesson in the strokes of imagination by the masterful Danish auteur.
Von Trier is also known to be incredibly thought-provoking in his onscreen demonstrations. In Antichrist (2008), a couple kicks things off through having intercourse when their poor innocent toddler falls through a window to a gruesome untimely demise (with teddy bear for an emotional grip) just as the mother reaches climax. The sinister contrast within the scene is geared to stir the mind.
The scene certainly made moviegoers stop in their tracks to consider the direction of the film.
Upon tragedy, the male lead searches for methods to relieve his wife of her inconsolable solitude. While in her depressive state of guilt, the woman delves into the dark arts, attracting strange diabolical forces including an iconic fox that speaks the human language.
The film is filled with vile symbolisms and abstract notions that hint at the collapsible virtues of people and how at any given nanosecond, something dark would take us by surprise to upend our world.
As opposed to Gaspar Noe, who ‘’scoops eyeballs and hellfire’’ onto the platter of his audience, Von Trier applies carefully prepared subtleties that when pieced together, offers a haunting landscape.
Directors come in all forms, much like visual artists, a flavour for each taster.
If you have dreamt up a unique vision, idea or style that you always had nagging reservations about, it is time to reveal them to the world! Are you the next highly successful auteur of this generation?
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Author: Laurenzo Jude