Having your own style as a filmmaker can be tough. Tarrell offers 3 ways to help find your own voice!
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All films, TV shows, and video games used in this video were for educational purposes.
Movies likely had their biggest impact on you as a kid, and it makes sense. As kids our imagination was unchained and movies swept us away to the farthest parts of our creativity. Going back to the things that really inspired you early on will be a big help in figuring out your style. Chances are you’ll see how certain shots, characters, and sometimes entire scenes unconsciously make their way into your work. If you’re like me and you watched a certain movie non stop all the time, it’s very likely the techniques in it are ingrained into your head. Looking outside of just movies; music, videogames, and TV shows can also be a powerful tool of inspiration. I can’t even explain how much shows like this have impacted my sense of humor. (Spongebob Clip). When returning to these things, pay attention to how the stories and design were handled, and brainstorm ways to build upon those ideas to add to your filmmaking toolbox. Adding your own personal twist to these ideas creates something that is uniquely you. Just be sure to add those twists to it, or you could end up looking like you’re ripping off others work. Which leads to part 2...
Your unique viewpoint of the world comes from the environment that you grew up around. This is why trying to copy another director's style is dangerous. A lot of people try to be like Quentin Tarantino, but without growing up around the people and influences he did, it becomes obvious when someone is just trying to copy him. What makes someone like Tarantino have stand out characters is that he builds them off of real life people and conversations he experienced, adding a sense of realism to them no matter what story they're in. No matter who surrounds you in your life, take a moment sometimes to just really observe their mannerisms, vocabulary, and overall history. Write down any great quotes or things they do, they could come in handy later. These observations will give you a voice that only you can have. Kevin Smith is the biggest example of this. He worked at a convenience store and wanted to show what that experience was like, as well as growing up in New Jersey at that time. What came of it was a story and style that only he would’ve been able to tell. Long story short, writing what you know can be a good technique if you truly want to form a unique style to the stories and characters you create.
Building your personal visual style is a great way to create a visual trademark for your films. Many big directors have this down to a science. Within only a few seconds of watching, you can tell if you’re watching a Spielberg movie, a Kubrick movie, or a Burton movie. The best way I’ve found to create your own visual trademarks is to look at a lot of different pieces of art and photography. A single frame of an image can be more powerful at creating a visual design than movies can. I recently have become a big fan of Pinterest, and through it I’ve been able to compile hundreds of images that fit my personal style. Whenever I need to reference images when designing a film, I’ll refer to these images to help build the world I want. What’s also cool is that when comparing your pinterest with other filmmakers, you can tell the difference in style you might not have thought you had. For example, this image gives me inspiration for days. For someone else though, that image might not mean anything but this photo will. Looking at these different types of images can help you really determine what visuals work with you creatively. When it comes to choosing shots and framing, you already have your own style for this. It might not be as off the wall or noticeable as big directors, but you have to remember that they usually have equipment and resources you don’t yet. I’m going to create a follow up exercise video to this that will hopefully reveal to you more of your style when it comes to creating a visual scene. Lastly, music can also be a great tool for style. We all have songs we listen to that are so powerful they spark feelings and visuals in our heads. If you’re lucky enough to use your favorite genre of music in a film, go for it. Using your own taste of music for the scenes that don’t normally go with it can create something truly unique.