1h30 with Walter Murch and The Art of Journeying Through the 10,000 Questions
Editor and storyteller maestro Walter Murch is one of ‘those’, the generous ones who share their knowledge and experience through books, documentaries, and encounters. And the talk below, that Murch gave at the Sheffield Doc/Fest right before the screening of his latest work effort, Particle Fever, doesn’t tarnish his reputation.
The first half is a general presentation by Murch about the art of filmmaking, its evolution from film to digital with its pros and cons, the importance of maintaining a fragile balance between the Black Box (control over every pixel) and the Snowflake (spontaneous creativity), his own workflow to go through 500 hours of footage and make a 96 min story out of it etc. A must watch, as you might have guessed.
The second half is a conversation that goes in different areas, from anecdotes, to the blink of an eye, to the reason why Murch ended up working on a documentary to the ‘Murchisms’.
The murchisms are a series of rules and wisdom that Murch has built over the years and shares along the way. One of them is ‘the 10,000 Questions‘, that I thought was quite fascinating and useful for all storytellers really.
Here is what Walter Murch says about it:
Journeying Through the 10,000 Questions
“You begin every project with 10,000 questions and one certainty. You’re bound to have the questions, but if you don’t have any certainty going into it, you’re going to be lost. By the end of the project, you end the project with 10,000 certainties, so all of the particulars have been fleshed out, but you end also with one question, and the question is the gift that you give to the audience at the end of the film, something that they have to complete for themselves.
The kicker is that you can’t know what that question is in advance, in fact you, as a filmmaker, have to be desperate to answer every single question knowing inevitably that one of this thing, whatever it’s going to be is going to fall through your fingers and fall into the lapse of the audience. Because without that question, the film is in danger to become hermetically sealed and not available to kind of transpire with the world around it.
There are filmmakers who strive for this and actually achieve it, but there is a danger that their film becomes this kind of porcelain perfection that you can admire and look at but somehow there isn’t that personal living connection. The film doesn’t need you, it is perfect unto itself, and this one question is the thing that makes ‘I need you, the audience, to help me, the film, answer this one question’. It’s kind of an umbilical cord that connects the audience with the film.”
Watch the full talk below. (Warning: strong shot of inspiration)
thanks to @AotgNetwork