Ray Carney Moment of the Day #4

June 18, 2011


“A student of mine, Alex Lipschultz, directed me to a statement about film school and learning to be a filmmaker by Andrei Tarkovsky, one of the greatest artists who ever lived. It is from his book Sculpting in Time, but since the translation in that book is pretty dreadful, I’ve re-written it in contemporary English. It is worth pondering:

‘What is important to the education of a filmmaker is not a matter of learning a set of skills and techniques, but having a vital, passionate need to express something unique and personal. Above all, the student has to understand why he wants to become a filmmaker rather than work in some other art form and he has to ponder what he wants to say in film’s unique form of expression.

‘In recent years I have met more and more young people who go to film school to prepare themselves to do “what they have to do” (as they say in Russia) or “to make a living” (as they say in Europe and America). This is tragic. Learning to use the equipment and edit a movie is child’s play; anyone can learn that without half-trying. But learning how to think independently, learning how to be an individual, is entirely different from learning “how to do” something. Learning how to say something unique and different is a skill that no one can force you to master. And to go down that path is to shoulder a burden that is not merely difficult, but at times impossible to bear. But there is no other way to become an artist. You have to go for broke. You must risk everything in your quest to express a personal truth. It must be all or nothing.

‘The man who has stolen in order never to thieve again is forever a thief. Nobody who has once betrayed his principles can have a pure relationship with life ever again. When a filmmaker says he will try to please people – relatives, friends, teachers, or reviewers – this time in order to get a degree or earn the money to make the film of his dreams the next time, he is lying to you, or even worse, lying to himself. Once he heads down the path of deceit he will never be capable of making a real film.'”


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