I study. That’s what I do.
I know what I want to accomplish since I’ve had everything mapped out for years. To get where I need to be, I already know which skill sets I need to improve.
My script writing and directorial skill sets aren’t that good, because I simply don’t have enough experience. I’m well aware of that.
So, when it doubt, I’ll study the greats.
In regards to music, that means studying Tchaikovsky, Beethoven, Brahms, Wagner, Mendelssohn, Chopin, Dvorak, Liszt, Randy Rhoads, Jimi Hendrix, Ritchie Blackmore, Glenn Tiptop, KK Downing, Carlos Santana, etc.
They’re all better than I am at what they do. So, I study them. And rip them off when the situation calls for it.
Today’s pop music sucks ass and is designed for people who are intellectually lazy. It is designed for people who don’t want to use their brains, who don’t want to improve themselves.
Unfortunately, that’s the vast majority of people on this planet. You and I both know that they do the minimum effort in pretty much everything they do, including (and especially) their jobs.
There’s a reason why I’m rarely friends with people who love today’s pop music. If I hung out with them, I’ll never improve myself. They don’t inspire me as people.
Thus, give me the good shit. That’s what I want to study. That’s what I want to emulate. I’m striving for greatness, not mediocrity.
The same goes in regards to film. You’ll never see me wanting to make a Transformers 4 movie (I can’t believe I didn’t walk out of that film) or something else that hideously stupid. Yeah, maybe I’m stupid for not walking out of that film.
As a director, I know I’m just beginning. I know I got a long way to go before I’ll put out something good. You don’t just grab a camera and expect to put out Citizen Kane. It takes years to reach even decent level.
So last night, it was Godfather II. When it comes to the best movies ever made, that one definitely ranks in the top 5. I’ll put The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly in the top 5 as well. Of course Citizen Kane. I’ll have to think about what I’ll throw in for the other 2.
In my lifetime, Pulp Fiction is the best movie I’ve seen. Not sure if it would make the top 5, but so far in my lifetime, it’s the best.
Your initial efforts will suck
You learn by doing, and even though you already know your initial efforts will suck, you still have to power forward.
This applies for anything. You think the Sistine Chapel was Michelangelo’s first piece? You think Beethoven’s 3rd was Beethoven’s first piece? And Coppola did Godfather II in 1974. He was already doing shorts in film school in the early 60s. His greatest work was over a decade later.
I’m assuming if you find this article interesting, you’re either an artist or have strong artistic tendencies. When I say artist, that means anything from painter to writer to musician to film director. I don’t care what your medium is. The message is the same.
You start off sucking. You get better. The more you do, the better you get. Learn from the best. Steal when you have to.
I’m still ten years away from my first full-length feature film and ten years away from my first symphony. I’m well aware of where I am.
Now, smart people would recognize how everything I do leads up to something bigger. And smart people would figure out that I had a plan the whole way. Because, everything is a stepping stone.
I’ve stolen from so many different people, most people have no idea that I’ve stolen. Of all the ironies, the more people you steal from, the less your work looks like stealing.
Learn from the best
Learn from the best, my friends. When in doubt, the works you think are the best are the best in your eyes. Pick those pieces out, and learn from the best. This applies for whatever your art medium is.
About the featured image
THE pivotal scene from Godfather II, released 1974. Francis Ford Coppola is talking. That means, take good notes.