“If you figure a way to live without serving a master, any master, then let the rest of us know, will you? For you’d be the first in the history of the world.” – Lancaster Dodd, The Master
Whether you know it or not, you serve a master. If you’re fortunate, you recognize it early on and are blessed with an apprenticeship that could last a lifetime.
I’ve been on a particular kick recently in discussing cinema, invoking its name countless times over the past couple of months. There’s a reason for this, beyond the obvious that I am a filmmaker with a deep adoration for movies.
Cinema has become, for me, a kind of point of entry to see the world from. It’s allowed me to better contextualize my life and has enriched and aided in my search for answers and understanding. And, since each piece of cinema is also very much reflective of the time and place it was created, it also provides a lens into different cultures, be it the American cinema of the late 1960s/early 1970s, the French films of the French New Wave beginning in the late 1950s, or the Italian Neorealist Movement of the 1940s. Cinema can hold up a mirror to society and we, as an audience, could then reflect back on what it meant and why it mattered.
These are but a few reasons why I choose to serve cinema. In doing so, in choosing this, I take on a century worth of masters—filmmakers and artists to study and guide me as I embark on my own filmmaking journey.
John Ford. Howard Hawks. Charlie Chaplin. Akira Kurosawa. Orson Welles. Robert Bresson. Andrei Tarkovsky. Alfred Hitchcock. Martin Scorsese. Stanley Kubrick. Steven Spielberg. Terrence Malick. Billy Wilder. Louis Malle.
These are some of my masters. What knowledge they have to impart! And how lucky am I that I have direct access to all their teachings.
If we’re smart, we take their mastery and build upon it. In this regard, I’m reminded of the Isaac Newton quote, “If I have seen further, it is only by standing on the shoulders of giants.”
I serve the cinema and am a pupil to its masters.
Who are your masters?
(Pictured above, Master John Ford)