6 Filmmaking Tips From Nicolas Winding Refn
By Landon Palmer


Find Your Film Through its Pieces
“I don’t know if there are any filmmakers here, but this is how you survive in the film industry. Go to a distributor, and say, ‘Mads Mikkelsen, Viking, action, violence.’ And they’ll says, ‘Sure, we’ll pay for that.’ Then you get the money. And then you go to a really remote area where nobody wants to film.
Then you say, ‘Okay: what would I like to do today?’…

Refn credits this process, in part, to his dyslexia, but it goes a long way to explaining his atmospheric, episodic, sometimes fragmentary approach to his films, contributing to an aura in which anything can happen, and the road to whatever happens is visually stunning. - See more at: http://www.filmschoolrejects.com/features/6-filmmaking-tips-from-nicolas-winding-refn.php#sthash.AqprDkK8.dpuf

Get Excited…Like, Really Excited
“Art is an act of violence. My approach is somewhat pornographic – it’s what excites me that counts. I can’t censor this need.”
…During the Cannes press conference for Only God Forgives in May, Refn gave this explanation for the personal, cathartic appeal to representing violence onscreen: it both excites him and exorcises a base need. Films can be a productive place for exploring and sating our obsessions, our most Freudian proclivities.
Listen to Brian Eno and Cry
From this Ryan Gosling interview at Cannes
Kill Your Masters and Do All the Things
“I grew up in a cinema family. My parents were brought up on the French New Wave. That was God to them, but to me it was the antichrist, and how better to rebel against your parents than by watching something your mother is going to hate, which were American horror movies. When I saw Texas Chain Saw Massacre, I realized: I don’t want to be a director, I don’t want to be a writer, I don’t want to be a producer, I don’t want to be a photographer, I don’t want to be an editor, I don’t want to be a sound man. I want to be all of them at once. And that film proved that you can do it because that movie is not a normal movie.”
Allow Your Films to Unfold Chronologically
After hearing that American indie pioneer John Cassavetes shot some of his films chronologically, Refn decided to take a similar approach. Here’s what he had to say:
“And after I did it on my first movie, I felt, ‘How can you do a movie any other way?’ It’s like a painting—you paint the movie as you go along, and I like the uncertainty of not knowing exactly how it’s going to turn out.”
Let Your Actors Create the Character (and Watch Kenneth Anger’s Movies)
…Refn explained his work with actors further in the aforementioned interview with Foundas: “But I try to draw the actor in—to force them in, in some cases, because a lot of actors don’t want to discuss things or go in deep; they just want to come and do the work, play their part and walk away. But for me, it doesn’t work like that. You’ve got to get absorbed and dirty, and a way to do that is to ask the actor what they would like to do. It also forces them to be more truthful.”





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6 Filmmaking Tips From Nicolas Winding Refn

By Landon Palmer

Find Your Film Through its Pieces

“I don’t know if there are any filmmakers here, but this is how you survive in the film industry. Go to a distributor, and say, ‘Mads Mikkelsen, Viking, action, violence.’ And they’ll says, ‘Sure, we’ll pay for that.’ Then you get the money. And then you go to a really remote area where nobody wants to film.

Then you say, ‘Okay: what would I like to do today?’…

Refn credits this process, in part, to his dyslexia, but it goes a long way to explaining his atmospheric, episodic, sometimes fragmentary approach to his films, contributing to an aura in which anything can happen, and the road to whatever happens is visually stunning. - See more at: http://www.filmschoolrejects.com/features/6-filmmaking-tips-from-nicolas-winding-refn.php#sthash.AqprDkK8.dpuf

Get Excited…Like, Really Excited

“Art is an act of violence. My approach is somewhat pornographic – it’s what excites me that counts. I can’t censor this need.”

…During the Cannes press conference for Only God Forgives in May, Refn gave this explanation for the personal, cathartic appeal to representing violence onscreen: it both excites him and exorcises a base need. Films can be a productive place for exploring and sating our obsessions, our most Freudian proclivities.

Listen to Brian Eno and Cry

From this Ryan Gosling interview at Cannes

Kill Your Masters and Do All the Things

“I grew up in a cinema family. My parents were brought up on the French New Wave. That was God to them, but to me it was the antichrist, and how better to rebel against your parents than by watching something your mother is going to hate, which were American horror movies. When I saw Texas Chain Saw Massacre, I realized: I don’t want to be a director, I don’t want to be a writer, I don’t want to be a producer, I don’t want to be a photographer, I don’t want to be an editor, I don’t want to be a sound man. I want to be all of them at once. And that film proved that you can do it because that movie is not a normal movie.”

Allow Your Films to Unfold Chronologically

After hearing that American indie pioneer John Cassavetes shot some of his films chronologically, Refn decided to take a similar approach. Here’s what he had to say:

“And after I did it on my first movie, I felt, ‘How can you do a movie any other way?’ It’s like a painting—you paint the movie as you go along, and I like the uncertainty of not knowing exactly how it’s going to turn out.”

Let Your Actors Create the Character (and Watch Kenneth Anger’s Movies)

…Refn explained his work with actors further in the aforementioned interview with Foundas: “But I try to draw the actor in—to force them in, in some cases, because a lot of actors don’t want to discuss things or go in deep; they just want to come and do the work, play their part and walk away. But for me, it doesn’t work like that. You’ve got to get absorbed and dirty, and a way to do that is to ask the actor what they would like to do. It also forces them to be more truthful.”

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