For those who aren’t familiar with Joss Whedon, he’s the bloke who’s partially responsible for getting the Avengers made – Yes, both movies.
He’s also a talented geek who comes from a family of writers and managed to mould himself a writing career, to begin with, working on such shows such as Roseanne and Parenthood and swiftly moving on to writing and directing his own TV shows including Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Angel and Firefly to name but a few.
He has also given a helping (writing) hand to some of the Major studios out there collaborating with others on projects such as Toy Story, Alien Resurrection and even the X Men.
As well as toying around with Super Heroes, interplanetary cowboys, and Vampire hunters his love for Shakespeare is immeasurable.
Having recently read his biography by Amy Pascale ‘Joss Whedon – Geek King Of The Universe’ I thought it would be befitting to share with you several of Joss’ guidelines to taking on the film universe and how maybe incorporating these thoughts and suggestions into your life could maybe just turn you into the next Film Rebel (Geek) to look out for.
So, here goes:
Think Differently – Joss says ‘I am a big fan of anything that forces you to see things differently. Most people go through their lives without even trying. It’s the idea of being taken out of your own narrative, of your own expectations and it’s the only truly pure thing that we can experience – becoming something less than the axis of the universe.’ – And that’s what Steve Jobs thought of too.
Respecting others – Joss, earlier in his career, while writing for Roseanne’s show had come across an awkward moment when he realised that overtime somebody opens their mouth they have an opportunity to do one of two things – connect or divide. Joss says ‘Connecting is the most important thing and actually an easy thing to do. People can be treated with respect. It makes everybody understand that we’re all involved and that we’re all on the same level.’ – Respect and listen.
Death can sometimes be good – While writing and directing Buffy, the TV show, Joss had learned from TV that death made everybody stronger and better, and also learn about themselves. There are
sometimes revelations and lessons that are useful. You have to take something out of it, because it’s inevitable – non of us are getting out of here alive. – Death is a sober reminder of how precious of a gift it is to be alive.
Dad’s advice – Joss’ dad once said ‘If you have a story that matters, you don’t need jokes, and if you don’t, all the jokes in the world won’t save you.’ – Remember, it’s all about the Story, story and more story.
TV or Film? – TV is a question, movies are an answer. A movie lasts for only a brief period of time and has one goal: to tell a story from beginning to end and then get out. A TV series needs to fill many hours and it needs to make the story last. – Two hours or two seasons – it’s your choice but do it right.
Inside out storytelling – Joss reverse engineers stories from the ending. He is not somebody who is overtly enamoured with the beginning of a story, which most writers are. Instead of looking at a story from where it would start or end he would come up with an idea and explore what would be really compelling about it when ‘blank’ happens. – Think backwards for a change.
Buffy’s advice – ‘Seize the moment, because tomorrow you might be dead.’ That is pretty much the underlying theme throughout the show. – Theme is just as important as story.
Building a voracious fan base – Joss says ‘I’d rather make a show a hundred people need to see than a show that a thousand people want to see.’ – Less is more in this case.
On problem solving – Joss likes to contemplate big story problems at nice restaurants. And by dessert he’d kind of figure out what he’s going to do. – Don’t think on an empty stomach.
Finding the music – It takes a long time to find the music of a show, the music of a character. Every show has its own music and its own tone. It takes you a while to figure that out, but once you do, you really get the rhythm of your character and what’s going on. – Learn to groove and improve.
The Avengers – Joss says ‘Is about a group of people who have no business being in the same room together, and yet they are forced to work together. Isn’t that the perfect definition of a family?’ – Yes, just like my Jewish family.
About film Remakes and Buffy – Joss says ‘It’s a sad reflection on our times, when people must feed off the carcasses of beloved stories from their youths – just because they can’t think of an original idea of their own. I always hoped that Buffy would live on even after my death.’ – Write original for a change, dammit!
On set – Kevin Feige of Marvel studios says ‘Joss is able to get an atmosphere where everyone’s productive, everyone is pleasant, everyone is about the work. He’s a self deprecating guy. It’s fun to sit behind the monitor with him and hear him tear apart his own words or tear apart a shot.
And Clarke Gregg says ‘He’s a grown ass man, and he takes care of business but like a lot of great creative people he’s still really deeply in touch with this kind of fantastical, energetic childlike qualities that we really love to play. You really see the joy, that joyous side that a lot of grown-ups lose tack of.’ – Embrace the kid within and just be yourself.
About us going to die – Joss in a commencement speech told students ‘We all live with the duality of wanting to experience and create everything while at the same time we’re bound to the limitations of our physical selves and our limited life spans, and we’re all torn between these two metaphorical roads. In making a choice to take one road, one job, one relationship, other options will be closed. But it’s not the roads we take that will bring us to happiness but the determination to keep searching, questioning and learning.’ – Life is a journey not a destination. Just work at your craft and keep at it.
… and about happiness – ‘If you think that happiness means total peace, you will never be happy. Peace comes from acceptance of the part of you that can never be at peace. it will always be in conflict. If you accept that everything gets a lot better, to accept duality is to earn identity. And identity is something that you’re constantly earning. It is not just who you are. It is a process that you must be active in.’ – True dat.
And on that note go forth and conquer Film Rebel (geeks).