Who Am I Making This For?

I watched Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker the other night and afterward I decided to do a little research.

Stalker_Andrei_TarkovskyAccording to Wikipedia, “The film contains not more than 142 shots in 163 minutes with an average shot length of almost one minute and many shots lasting for more than four minutes.”

I don’t know how accurate that is, but it’s close enough for you to get the idea. Some might say Stalker is boring and slow. I’d say it’s demanding and meditative.

“Officials at Goskino [kind of the Soviet cinema police] were critical of the film, on being told that the film should be faster and more dynamic, Tarkovksy replied: ‘the film needs to be slower and duller at the start so that the viewers who walked into the wrong theatre have time to leave before the main action starts.’

“The Goskino representative then explained that he was trying to give the point of view of the audience. Tarkovsky supposedly retorted: ‘I am only interested in the views of two people: one is called Bresson and one called Bergman.’”

This made me wonder: Who am I making A Life’s Work for?

The more I reflected on this very big question (and just to be clear, this is a different question than why am I making A Life’s Work), the more answers I came up with. This film was born from grief, so in a certain way I’m making it for the people I’m grieving. It is to honor them, it is an offering to them.

But honoring and offering is as much an act for the living as for the dead, and so clearly I’m making this film for me. Asking Tarter, Darden, Soleri, and the Milarchs,  “What’s it all about?” is a way for me to process the deaths of the people dear to me.

I’m also making it for you. Yeah, you. I want A Life’s Work to be seen somewhere other than my living room and by someone other than me. I want you to see it and be moved by it. I want you to enjoy it and carry it with you for a while. I’m trying to impress you, to woo you.

So “you,” are you part of a demographic that I’m targeting? Not really. But I’m aware that the film is, as the saying goes, for anyone, but not for everyone. I think people who enjoy documentaries will enjoy A Life’s Work. I think people interested in the environment, gospel music, space, or architecture will find something in this film to like.

And finally, if I can mimic Tarkovsky, I am interested in the views of Herzog, Morris, and Maysles.

So, the things you do, who do you do them for?

2 Replies to “Who Am I Making This For?”

  1. Terrific point…vital for every artist.
    I paint for Me,my dad(dead),Paolo S, and the rest of the world, You…I feel I have something to say…not quite sure what that is, except to try to paint pics of what I feel is interesting. Try to be open with the feelings, to be truthful….
    I try to show myself, then am very happy if people like my stuff (and if they want to buy it …terrific,even better!)
    The important thing is not to do it for Money. So artists should always work at a day job they dont have to be that involved in and can leave easily !
    Btw I want to see that movie.

  2. Hi Josephine,

    Thanks for the insightful comment.

    “The important thing is not to do it for Money.”

    A few times when I’ve exhibited my films, a person has come up to me and said, “My child wants to become a filmmaker. Do you have any advice?”

    I tell them if their children want to do it because they think they’re going to make a lot of money, tell them to do something else, because there are a lot easier ways to make a lot of money. (I won’t go into why this myth is perpetuated.) The only reason to go into filmmaking is because you love it and can’t imagine doing anything else. I think this could (should!) be said about many things, in the arts and outside of the arts.

    Thanks for reading. Hope to see you around these parts again soon.

    And if you do watch Stalker, let me know what you think of it.


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