How Much Does Age Factor Into Creating Meaningful Art? by Jack Perez

Watch the video interview on Youtube here

Film Courage: I was watching a documentary on Mary Shelley and it was saying that she had to publish the story [Frankenstein] anonymously (they didn’t think a woman could write it) but also her age was a factor. I’m wondering do you think that age factors into creating meaningful work?

Jack Perez, Filmmaker: I don’t think age is an issue if somebody has experienced something that is worth communicating. I think that it is all based on what you have inside of you at the time that you’re creating stuff.

So there are plenty of young people that have had tremendously rich, dramatic even traumatic experiences that are perfectly positioned to do something magical with that life experience.

I think the problem comes when you don’t have enough life experience, you don’t have anything to say. I can’t remember which filmmaker it was who said when he graduated from film school he said everybody was just scrambling to make their first feature. He said “I’m going to take 5 years off and I’m going to live. I don’t know but I’m going to live my life.” Because he even then knew that he didn’t have anything to say that was worth saying yet.

So I think that’s probably a problem with a lot of filmmakers is that if they don’t constantly inform their work with what’s going on or if their lives aren’t enriched by it (by certain experiences) that’s the classic ‘Going Up Your Own A$$’ thing where you’re not saying anything new, you’re just repeating. So I think that is what is most important is what is informing the work not necessarily the age.

And obviously Mary Shelley was perfectly in a…had plenty to say on the subject and knocked it out so it didn’t really matter. I know Orson Welles is obviously the prime example of someone in his middle 20’s doing the ultimate commentary on an old shattered man’s life, that’s pretty amazing that it would have that perspective. I guess it depends on the individual’s perspective.

Film Courage: I think a lot of people think that their life (and everyone’s life is unique) but that “Oh I’ve had these tragedies.” Even though one is a different set of tragedies, they are equally painful to the person experiencing it [social problems versus major life setbacks].

But don’t you think that everyone thinks they have something to say at age 18 or 22?

Jack: Oh, I think so.

Film Courage: And some really do and maybe some need to go out and…

Jack: I think so. I think it depends on the person. I think everybody thinks that their…everybody’s life at any given moment is valid and traumatic. The question is does it translate into a movie? Obviously [Francois] Truffaut with 400 BLOWS or even you look at Rob Reiner doing STAND BY ME, if you nail it then you can paint a picture of the drama and complexity of being an adolescent. That can be infinitely dramatic. So it’s not like a child’s life is invalid.

Where I was just talking about THE RED BALLOON the other day. THE RED BALLOON is one of those movies where when I was in college everybody was like “Oh, you’ve got to see THE RED BALLOON.” And I was like “I don’t want to see a movie about a little kid and his magical balloon. That’s like who cares? I want to see real gritty…” And finally I sat down and watched THE RED BALLOON when I was like 21 and I’m [imitates crying] because it perfectly captured that feeling of being 7 years old and alone and everybody hates you (particularly if you are getting bullied) and it just nailed…so it depends on the story of the person who is telling it. Everybody’s life is valid, it’s just does that translate into a 90-minute movie that anybody is going to watch?

 

Question For The Viewers: Do you agree with Jack?

 

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¡CALAMBRE! is a 53 minute episodic black and white film about a poet who returns to his hometown of New York City to rekindle an old flame, only to complicate his return with new women in his life. A film by Carlos Renaso.

 

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LA-based filmmakers! Join us Tuesday, January 22nd, 2019 from 7-9 p.m in North Hollywood for this 2-hour Q&A style event with horror filmmaker James Cullen Bressack. James will help you navigate the ins-and-outs of being a horror filmmaker (whether it’s your own production or as a director-for-hire). His 61 producer, 38 writer and 34 directors credits show his intense commitment to his work. He’s grown up around the business and he’s still several years shy of turning 30. More info via Eventbrite page here.