One of my favorite things is films. Especially those film that makes me uncomfortable, sleepless, question my self, my choices, and life in general. There is no bragging in this; it is just that too many movies are predictable and follow the same narrative techniques. We know what is going to happen and how it's going to end. I find them boring and unintriguing. But cinema is not dead. Alongside the myriad of movie production focusing on entertaining and revenues, there are many people out there questioning what cinema is, reinventing it each time.
One of those films is Adaptation (2002), written by Charlie Kaufman and directed by Spike Jonze. It is about a self-loathing writer struggling with his work and himself, anxiety, social phobia, depression, and low self-esteem. There is no superhero here, but a regular person struggling with life as everyone else. The film left me astonished as I partially recognized myself with the protagonist. I had such a weird feeling that I needed to look into it more thoroughly. That is how I bumped into Charlie Kaufman, one of the most distinct cinema writers at the moment. You might know some of his work: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Being John Malkovich, and Netflix produced I'm thinking of ending things. A peculiar writing and directing style, addressing universal human questions such as mortality, relationships, identity, and the meaning of life.
I'm not here to present his movies in particular but pass on to you some admirable pieces of advice I got from a speech he delivered in 2011 at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts. Charlie Kaufman recognizes our common humanity and vulnerability. His work, words, fears, anxieties, and insecurities, have been an inspiration for me, and hopefully, it will be inspirational also for you.
He starts his lecture by questioning the quality of movies and the principles of the film industry. In particular Hollowood, the one he is a part of, a very competitive and demanding environment following the final goal of making a profit, selling, entertain people. Too often today, cinema is linked with entertainment and box office.
"People spend countless hours of their lives being feed entertainment in form of movies, tv shows, newspapers, youtube videos. This mass distraction and manipulation alters our brains and emotions. It's all ideated to sell more and more, to make us angry, empty, distracted, and entertained".
The art form of cinema, as well as writing, music, or photography, is being systematically devalued and demeaned, reduced to a product. The goal driving these industries is profit, and the common factor is an overabundance of content. Our lives are overflown with images, videos, music, and words with no clear purpose or direction. They were produced to sell and nothing more. These contents should be addressed carefully, with higher consciousness, and at a certain level considered dangerous as they become entertainment and distraction from our lives, from what is truly important. That is kindness toward others and respect for their feelings and differences. Don't be indifferent to life. Enjoy it even without fame or power, as these are only a facade for our insecurities and fears.
So regardless of where you are with your life, what you are doing or will do in the future, you should give yourself to the world. Your whole self, including your oddities, doubts, and worries.
The final advice from Charlie Kaufman is the following:
"Say who you are. Really say it, in your life and in your work. Tell someone out there who is lost or not yet born. Your writing will be a record of your time. More importantly, if you are honest about who you are, you'll help that person be less lonely in their world. That person will recognize him or herself in you, and that will give them hope. Give that to the world, rather than selling something to the world. Don't allow yourself to be tricked into thinking that the way things are is the way the world must work and that in the end selling is what everyone must do.
Try to be nobody but yourself in a world that is doing its best night and day to make you everybody else. "
Inspirational Writing Advice From Charlie Kaufman https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eRfXcWT_oFs&t=1655s