“What’s wrong with just dropping an audience into a world?”
Whenever I see an interview with a master in a creative field, I’m all eyes and ears: I’m always sure that there’s something to be gleaned from it that can help me improve my writing. It might be a passing comment or a way of working or even just an arresting image that gives me something to think about in relation to my own projects. Just one example: an interview with the filmmaker Martin Scorsese reminded me how important it is to create a world that’s rich and enticing — and that viewers or readers can just parachute into and get lost in. A few highlights from his interview, which may strike a chord:
Go for big themes with a fresh attitude: Over the years, Martin has tackling a bewildering array of films: Raging Bull, Hugo, Kundin, The Age of Innocence, The Wolf of Wall Street. But while these subjects are incredibly diverse, they tackle a consistent set of themes, or what the interviewer calls “obsessions” — the unreliable, but appealing, narrator; temptation; the bonds of loyalty and obligation. “Am I my brother’s keeper? What happens to that responsibility, ultimately? That’s been something in every film I’ve made.”
Shake things up: “A lot of people want a character they can root for,” notes Scorsese. “I understand that, it’s great, there are a lot of great pictures with heroes like that — ‘Casablanca,’ ‘Shane,’ Chinatown’ — you can root for those guys, you’re on their side. But do you have to have a character you like for the picture to work?”
Find your own way into a story: While people have brought many different story ideas to Martin, he takes his time developing those that interest him because he has to find his own way into them. Some stories have taken six or seven, even ten years for him to find the key to unlocking them.
Stay curious: Instead of shying away from digital photography and 3D, Martin is excited about their potential. He embraces the fact that technology is transforming his industry and he’s fascinated about new rising stars in global cinema.
Big themes, risky approaches, staying curious — any and all of these can help us go for the gold. Write on!