Andrei Tarkovksy on Filmmaking: “Cinema Uses Your Life, Not Vise Versa”

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Andrei Tarkovsky Interview on Filmmaking

Andrei Tarkovsky’s film Stalker

From Werner Herzog you can always expect practical filmmaking advice along the lines of “If you want to do a film, steal a camera, steal raw stock.” And he actually did steal a camera from the Berlin Film School and used it to film his first 7 films—which only proves it is a great filmmaking approach.

Others like Robert Bresson look more on the theoretic side of filmmaking: “Don’t let your backgrounds (avenues, squares, public gardens, subway) absorb the faces you are applying to them.”

For Charlie Kaufman, whether it is writing a screenplay or directing a film, there are no universal guidelines: “There are no rules.”

But you can count on the Russian Andrei Tarkovsky to say something poetical about filmmaking. His movies, from Solaris and Mirror to Nostalgia and Stalker, have the dream-like quality of another world. No wonder the director himself has a kind of otherworldly personality.

In this 1983 interview Andrei Tarkovsky talks about the blurry line between cinema and real life and the sacrifices art requires.

Andrei Tarkovsky on Filmmaking

Nowadays everyone makes movies, everybody thinks they can make movies, you see? Anyone that is not too lazy, it’s not hard to learn how to glue the film, how to work a camera. But the advice I can give to beginners is not to separate their work, their movie, their film from the life they live. Not to make a difference between the movie and their own life.

Because a director is like any other artist: a painter, a poet, a musician. And since it is required from him to contribute his own self, it is strange to see directors that take their work as a special position, given to them by destiny, and simply exploit their profession. That is, they live in one way, but make movies about something else. And I’d like to tell directors, especially young ones, that they should be morally responsible for what they do while making their films. […] Secondly, they should be prepared for the thought that cinema is a very difficult and serious art. It requires sacrificing of yourself. You should belong to it, it shouldn’t belong to you. Cinema uses your life, not vice versa. […] You should sacrifice yourself to the art.