Filmmaking In English

As a filmmaker, it is easy to think that movies made in Hollywood set the standard. But what if you do not live in Hollywood or an English speaking country?  This weeks question comes from a filmmaker who’s native language is not English. He wonders if it is best to continue his filmmaking in English.

Dear Jason,

I am very close to making my very first feature film, but I am not from the United States and my native language is not English. I have always been inspired by American directors, especially Christopher Nolan and so my screenplay is in English. My plan for the feature is to send it to international and credible film festivals like Cannes and Slamdance and I hope for the best.

My question is that if I drift away from my native language and culture, would I be viewed as somebody trying to copy Hollywood or as somebody who’s inspired by Hollywood?

Sincerely – A Filmmaker Lost in Language

Dear Lost Filmmaker,

Sometimes I wonder what would happen if I set an American movie in another country. In my imaginings, all the characters would be American and doing American things, yet they would never make mention that all the sets and locations are obviously from a different part of the world. But here is the distinction – I would do these things as a creative choice to complement the story.

The truth is, unless your budget is in the millions of dollars your movie will not look Hollywood. And if you attempt to make a movie that looks BIG budget without actually having the budget, it will look stupid. And if you do have big budget dollars, why not give me your money so I can produce your movie in the United States?

You should care less about what people think of YOU and more about your movie. If you choose to ignore your culture and language, odds are good that your final movie will either look like an interesting movie inspired by Hollywood, or a B-Movie inspired by Ed Wood. Have you seen Plan 9 From Outer Space?

Regardless, you must decide if your choices support the story. If your choices do not support the story, then the strength of your movie will be based on a gimmick. You will want to avoid gimmicks.

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I hope this is helpful. If you have any filmmaking related questions, please feel free to contact me in the Filmmaker FAQ section.

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