Victor Kossakovsky’s advice for beginners

Here’s a summary of Russian filmmaker Victor Kossakovsky’s 10 Rules that he follows for documentary filmmaking:

1. Don’t film if you can live without filming.
2. Don’t film if you want to say something – just say it or write it.
Film only if you want to show something, or you want people to see something. This concerns both the film as a whole and every single shot within the film.
3. Don’t film, if you already knew your message before filming – just become a teacher.  Don’t try to save the world. Don’t try to change the world.  Better if your film will change you. Discover both the world and yourself whilst filming.
4. Don’t film something you just hate. Don’t film something you just love. Film when you aren’t sure if you hate it or love it. Doubts are crucial for making art. Film when you hate and love at the same time.
5. You need your brain both before and after filming, but don’t use your brain during filming. Just film using your instinct and intuition.
6. Try to not force people to repeat an action or words. Life is unrepeatable and unpredictable. Wait, look, feel and be ready to film using your own way of filming. Remember that the very best films are unrepeatable. Remember that the very best films were based on unrepeatable shots. Remember that the very best shots capture unrepeatable moments of life with an unrepeatable way of filming.
7. Shots are the basis of cinema. Remember that cinema was invented as one single shot – documentary, by the way – without any story. Or story was just inside that shot. Shots must first and foremost provide the viewers with new impressions that they never had before.
8. Story is important for documentary, but perception is even more important. Think, first, what the viewers will feel while seeing your shots. Then, form a dramatic structure of your film using the changes to their feelings.
9. Documentary is the only art, where every esthetical element almost always has ethical aspects and every ethical aspect can be used esthetically. Try to remain human, especially whilst editing your films. Maybe, nice people should not make documentaries.
10. Don’t follow my rules. Find your own rules. There is always something that only you can film and nobody else.

Tip van Oeke Hoogendijk.

Update: Watch Media Me, you’re in my story by Bert Kommerij (NTR) online on Vimeo.
Thanks to the 606 members of the flickrpool Media Me.

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13 Responses to “Victor Kossakovsky’s advice for beginners”

  1. Roel1943 Says:

    De tekst zou iedere filmer fotograaf als poster aan de muur moeten hebben hangen om weer terug te keren naar het gevoel

  2. bert kommerij Says:

    Ik heb ‘em veranderd in de engelse versie. Zal de nederlandse aan je toesturen. Media Me wants to be international.

  3. Maurits Burgers Says:

    Fraaie 10 geboden van de filmdocumentaire.
    Ik vind vooral regel 5 erg sterk en regel 10 de perfecte afmaker.

  4. Robin Hislop Says:

    Wise words. It’s so tempting as a doc maker to try to change the world, or to lecture. And I think the advice to choose a subject you’re not sure if you love or hate is very good.

  5. H. Sehtgut Says:

    2b. Or: Don’t film if you want to show something – just show it, e.g with your hands et cetera.

  6. Victor Kossakovsky’s advice for beginners | Doku Slam Says:

    […] a summary of Russian filmmaker Victor Kossakovsky’s 10 Rules that he follows for documentary […]

  7. Manas Mittal Says:

    mind blowing

  8. True/False Wrap-Up | total echo Says:

    […] are basically the opposite spot of earth from where you are.  It was great to hear the director, Victor Kossakovsky, describe how the idea of the movie came from watching someone fishing and imagining where the […]

  9. Victor Kossakovsky: Συμβουλές προς αρχάριους « ΜΠΟΜΠΙΝΑ Says:

    […] Πηγή: Media Me, You ‘re In My Story […]

  10. SERDIUKOW: Na początku był obraz. Wywiad z Wiktorem KOSSAKOWSKIM, reżyserem dokumentu „Niech żyją Antypody!” | Patrząc | Kultura Liberalna Says:

    […] daje pan początkującym w zawodzie dokumentalisty filmowcom. Pana zalecenia można odnaleźć w sieci, to świetne, osobiste wskazówki, w tym bardzo przewrotny ostatni punkt. Brzmi on: „Don’t […]

  11. Veronique Maison Says:

    I agree on all the points. Very wise.

  12. Documentário: sugestões da semana « Digital Storytellers Says:

    […] the Condors Fly» (2012) , de Carlos Klein sobre Victor Kossakovsky. Realizador documenta realizador ou uma reflexão sobre […]

  13. Image making | Victor Arroyo Says:

    […] [ link to kossakovskys ] […]

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