Werner Herzog’s Advice to Filmmakers and Creatives

Werner Herzog is a filmmaker and he shares about drawing on past experiences for creative endeavors.

Walk on foot, learn languages and a craft or trade that has nothing to do with cinema. Filmmaking — like great literature — must have experience of life at its foundation. Read Conrad or Hemingway and you can tell how much real life is in those books. A lot of what you see in my films isn’t invention; it’s very much life itself, my own life. If you have an image in your head, hold on to it because — as remote as it might seem — at some point you might be able to use it in a film. I have always sought to transform my own experiences and fantasies into cinema.

I don’t consciously reflect on aesthetics before making a film because, for me, the story always dictates such things. Of course, aesthetics do sometimes enter unconsciously through the back door, because whether we like it or not our preferences always somehow influence the decisions we make. If I were to think about my handwriting while writing an important letter, the words would become meaningless. When you write a passionate love letter and focus on making sure your longhand is as beautiful as possible, it isn’t going to be much of a love letter. But if you concentrate on the words and emotions, your particular style of longhand – which has nothing to do with the letter per se — will somehow seep in of its own accord. Aesthetics, if they even exist, are to be discovered only once a film has been completed.

We can never know what truth really is. The best we can do is approximate… Truth can never be definitively captured or described, though the quest to find answers is what gives meaning to our existence.

Art can be simple yet abstract at the same time. A lot of what we’ve seen, heard and experienced are subconsciously registered in our brain. They influence our perception and the way we see the world. Through the moving picture, we are given an opening on what the world was like, or would be like from the lens of the filmmaker.

The older I get, the more I’m drawn to films and documentaries instead of video games. Not blockbusters but those that weave in storytelling elements with beautiful cinematography. Movies like Children of Men and Gravity.

Also, The Theory of Everything will always have a place in my heart because it’s special.