The dream makers-My reflection on Lord David Puttnam’s masterclass
“This is cinema, cinema, cinema, cinema, cinema. No other medium in the world can offer this.” -Lord David Puttnam
As I leave tonight after hearing his seminar, it feels like my inspiration battery has been charged. I can’t comprehend what a humble man he was,here is that guy who produced Oscar-winning films like Chariots of Fire and The Killing Fields. I really can’t, he seems so genuine and warm. Waiting for us patiently while the audio tech people are fixing the audio for the conference, telling us about how his family lovingly treated him for his flu and even joked that he wanted to get his coffee when my film head asked if we could have a break. Even though I went slightly off-tanget with my question because of my nervousness (Yes I could totally relate on Dortohy and her companions fear when seeing the grand Wizard of Oz) ,he gently directed me back to the question in asking if I wished Atticus (Gregory Peck) was my father,it struck me. I said yes ,and then I talked how Taymor’s Across The Universe changed my life. He said to me “Good girl,now you become my ally” Here the Lord David Puttnam said these words to me and I was shoke to the core with such awe.
He talked widely about that beauty of cinema and he made me ponder why I am here in this industry. As the first clip Pinocchio show to the audience, we are the dreamers who wanted to make everything come true through that beautiful world of film. We wanted to put our experiences to entertain and relate.
Here are the few things that struck me from that seminar
- Watching Mr Smith Goes to Washington clip
I swear that I wept my eyes off from watching this clip,at times I almost feel like giving my dream of doing film studies and that times I feel like that main protagonist. I can’t stand the bitchiness,I can’t stand the cynicism,I can’t stand the objection.I just want to throw the towel and go home. However they stay I must stay on because I believe in everything. I want to be in film preservation,telling my love for cinema to others. So it was a booster for me.
- What are the films that have influenced you? Is there a film in your memory that has impacted you the way that East of Eden had impacted Lord David Puttnam?
Yes I died on the inside when I heard that he admire James Dean as his hero. Blame my fangirling on him,at last he linked something which I admired. James Dean,such an icon impacted this producer’s young life. Of course I wept again at the East of Eden ending as I recalled that time I watched it earlier. I could understand how it impacted me.
I thought of David Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia,I recalled watching Lawrence of Arabia for the first time on that weekend with my parents. This film really spoke me so heavily,I was awed by the cinematography that Freddie captured the hot desert,the romantic overture that still played in my mind and the wonderful performances by Peter O’Toole (I was so devastated when I heard he was retiring from acting) and Omar Sharif. I remember rewatching it for another time and that famous moment when O’Toole screamed “No Prisoners”. I nearly wept-here is that man looking for his identity,all lost. He lost his innocence and his view on himself. It consumed it so deadly to the point,he forget the sanity and just kill anyone. Even one of my favourite quotes stuck in my mind “Do you think I’m just anyone Ali do You?”,it was the summary of myself looking for my purpose. To me it shows the power of cinema,even though I do not have this background and I live in the city. It brings that romanticism to my screen and changed my perspective forever. I literary preached everyone to watch this,because it’s not often you seen a film in this scale like this.
- How do you intend to insert your dreams into the movies you produce? Are there any of your own personal memories that you would like to see onscreen?
Well I admit,I am very terrible in the technical aspect of film. I am pretty hopeless in carrying heavy lights and cameras. I have no patience on the editing side. I have ideas but I cannot execute it well in screenwriting. I did not have much chances to get my directing dream. However I can execute my dreams onscreen is to give people my knowledge of cinema and learn how to love it. As Terence Davis recounted in his documentary “Of time and The City”- ” at seven,” he says, “I saw Gene Kelly in singin’ in the rain, and discovered the movies, loved them and and swallowed them whole. … musicals, melodramas, westerns: nothing was too rich or too poor for my rapacious appetite, and i gorged myself with a frequency that would shame a sinner.” I want people to just immerse themselves in their encounters in cinema,stop all rational thinking and go back to feeling it. I also wanted them to transport themselves into other worlds and just feel that moment. That emotion. Perhaps it was my dream. I want to see my world that there is hope in the bleakness of society,be free and of course be themselves.
- Were there particular films from a technique point-of-view that were particularly influential over you? Was there a “light bulb” moment when you decided to be a filmmaker?
Well asides giving the obvious answers like To Kill A Mockingbird,Across The Universe and Lawrence of Arabia. I would say that recently I am crazy over Wong Kar Wai,to me he restored my faith in Asian films. I dunno why the way he filmed his shots to create that longing,the use of music like how he played “California Dreamin'” for Chungking Express. It feels fresh yet so relatable. I was having a personal soul-searching journey when I watched WKW’s films-he know how to relate to my loneliness and hurt I have from the past. Then I am in my Wes Anderson phase,on how he make characters so relatable. I swear that my family is a Wes Anderson-esque type. I am having phases in my film life:I love my David Lean films and escaping to the romanticism with him,like his characters was shook to the core by Ingmar Bergman’s films on his views on life and death,I was touched by Bresson’s minimalist films that speak volumes. I was moved by Wong Kar Wai,I laughed with Wes Anderson. I just absorb what I love about them and exploit on my own. Along these phases,I found out that I am better in film studies. I want to learn about them and how it influenced so many filmmakers like me. I see,by watching films you are a better filmmaker as my old man said.
I realize that perhaps we have tough times,but we wanted our dreams to come through,as they show that ending clip of Cinema Paradiso. We wanted it to be captured forever. That is the beauty of film. We wanted to be submerged in that world and just come back out of the screening-a fresh outlook on life.
Here are some quotes from filmmakers on why they chose film
“I like to make films because I like to go into another world. I like to get lost in another world. And film to me is a magical medium that makes you dream…allows you to dream in the dark. It’s just a fantastic thing, to get lost inside the world of film.”-David Lynch
“Movies touch our hearts and awaken our vision, and change the way we see things. They take us to other places, they open doors and minds. Movies are the memories of our lifetime, we need to keep them alive.”-Martin Scorsese (Interestingly one of my dreams is to join Marty’s charity for film preservation and it is always heart-tugging for me)
“The most expensive habit in the world is celluloid, not heroin, and I need a fix every two years.”-Steven Spilberg
Perhaps that is that damn reason why I wanted to enter that magical and mysterious world of film. I want to encapsulate memory and time. I want to be lost in that world for an hour or so. I want people to see my memories onscreen and last of all as I summarised it in my favourite film quote.“I am a film addict,absolutely crazy about cinema”. I love film and damn well enjoy that ride. I thank Lord Puttnam for igniting my fire on why I love cinema. It was indeed a humbling experience coming from a man who produced well-acclaimed films