Werner Herzog (b. 1942)

Werner Herzog (b. 1942)

GERMAN filmmaker Werner Herzog offers the following 24 points of advice for up-and-coming filmmakers — artists of any kind really — almost anyone will get something from these, it seems to me, which is why I’m reproducing them. Collectively they portray an attitude to life and living which will see you achieve something in almost any area of activity.

Along with Fassbinder and Wim Wenders, [for most of my adult life] Herzog is [and has been] the face of German cinema — of European filmmaking indeed. French filmmaker François Truffaut once identified Herzog as “the most important film director alive.” American film critic Roger Ebert said that Herzog “has never created a single film that is compromised, shameful, made for pragmatic reasons or uninteresting. Even his failures are spectacular.” — Wikipedia. The following may go a little way to indicating why people regard Herzog in these sorts of terms…

1. Always take the initiative.
2. There is nothing wrong with spending a night in jail if it means getting the shot you need.
3. Send out all your dogs and one might return with prey.
4. Never wallow in your troubles; despair must be kept private and brief.
5. Learn to live with your mistakes.
6. Expand your knowledge and understanding of music and literature, old and modern.
7. That roll of unexposed celluloid you have in your hand might be the last in existence, so do something impressive with it.
8. There is never an excuse not to finish a film.
9. Carry bolt cutters everywhere.
10. Thwart institutional cowardice.
11. Ask for forgiveness, not permission.
12. Take your fate into your own hands.
13. Learn to read the inner essence of a landscape.
14. Ignite the fire within and explore unknown territory.
15. Walk straight ahead, never detour.
16. Manoeuvre and mislead, but always deliver.
17. Don’t be fearful of rejection.
18. Develop your own voice.
19. Day one is the point of no return.
20. A badge of honor is to fail a film theory class.
21. Chance is the lifeblood of cinema.
22. Guerrilla tactics are best.
23. Take revenge if need be.
24. Get used to the bear behind you.

For more on Herzog one could do worse that starting with the leads provided by the Open Culture post, wherefrom I got this list.