SXSW 18: Darren Aronofsky Talks About the 10 Commandments of Filmmaking

This was the first time Darren Aronofsky has been to SXSW and in his own modest way he had a lot of wisdom to share.

His journey to becoming a filmmaker has to do with his love for story telling. “Story telling is in our DNA. I learned the power of story telling when I graduated from high school early and went to Marrakesh. There I saw this old man with one eye, leaning on a cane. I didn’t know what he was saying but he was a story teller. The way he raised off his cane and became animated engaged everyone around him. From then on I was hooked.”

At college he discovered film making. He wasn’t good at school but he was interested in what is roommate was doing so he applied to film school and eventually got in. After graduation he had a short film he had created but he didn’t know what to do with it. It was a full time job trying to figure out how to get your stuff out there. But eventually the short got a little bit of success which then allowed him to make Pi.

“When we started making Pi we didn’t really no what we were doing. No one had written the book on Indy film making. We had limitation but we rolled with them. We got it into Sundance which was huge for us but no one knew what to think of it. There were these long reviews written about all of the films there and when it came to Pi all that was said was, “ A weird black and white film.”

He had to stay persistent about the movies he was making and his message. “Once Pi was made everyone was asking, “What next?” So I gave them Requiem for a Dream. I never got a call back. When I did they said ok we can do this but get rid of the old lady. But I refused. This was the film I wanted to make it was about her not just a bunch of young junkies.”

He gave a little insight into what Mother! was about. Which everyone in the room like everyone who saw it was ready for. Aronofsky gave just a little bit of information to keep us still asking questions, “ I wanted to try to connect a level of consciousness to Mother Earth and also about expression of love and failing relationships.” He went further to say, “ When I put films out I want people to have their own interpretation walking away. I want them to feel their own feelings about my movies.”

Mother!/Paramount Pictures

Aronofsky’s discussion ended with what he thought was “The 10 Commandments of Indy Film.”

1: Make the film only you can make. This is your gift.

2: Persistence is 9/10th of the game

3: Work with family and treat those who aren’t like family. Be kind to everyone.

4: Do your homework before so you can be open on set. Time flies when you start filming. When he shot Mother! Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem and himself had a month long rehearsal. after that they invited the other cast and crew to join and filmed the whole movie with out walls. He said it was extremely abstract an weird but it help to know where to put the camera to tell the story they were trying to tell.

5: Adapt to reality. Make your limitations part of your creativity.

6: Don’t be afraid of your actors. But also create a safe space for them to be vulnerable and be able to create and mess up without consequence.

7: Where is my audience? You have to be the audience while you are filming.

8: Commit to your vision and see it through until the end.

9: Let your child go. A film is never finish just abandoned. You will never feel like a film is done so you have to just be ready to walk away and let it be

10. He ended with, “Lastly, Give a shit. Art is about disruption, especially today. With everything going on it’s important to make films with substance. Create human love not human violence. Never put a gun in an actor’s hands, never put one in anyone’s hands if you can help it. Fuck the naysayers and create your art.”