Rapper, music producer, Wu-Tang Clan member, and film director RZA gave his keynote address, and it was more than a little bit cool. He talked about his earlier film influences, meeting Jim Jarmusch, Quentin Tarantion, and John Woo, and dispensed some advice for aspiring filmmakers.
To start off, I thought I’d just share some of RZA’s great quotes:
If a picture is worth a thousand words, and a movie has around 1800 frames, “Imagine how many words come into your mind” when you watch one.
“We all have artistic expression inside of us.”
“Art is a wave. When someone catches the wave, they can express it.”
“When something goes into you, it matures itself, and then comes out.”
“My albums reflected my ideas of what film should be.”
“Directors are samplers…like a DJ.” 50 billion people saw Akira Kurosawa through Star Wars.
When watching Tarantino work, “Wow.”
He recalled being taken to the theaters by his uncle. His earliest film memories include Star Wars, The Swarm, Fury of the Dragon (footage of Bruce Lee in The Green Hornet cut together), and Black Samurai. The Wu-Tang Clan sprang from the seeds planted by those films.
He was invited to dinner with one of his inspirations, director John Woo. However, as RZA had a reputation for being late, he missed the dinner, and arrived at the restaurant as it was about to close. Luckily, John Woo held the restaurant open longer. As they talked, Woo mentioned his movie Bullet in the Head was inspired by Martin Scorsese’s Meant Streets.
As RZA’s music career progressed, he started to move towards more orchestral pieces, which was convenient because Jim Jarmusch wanted him to compose the score to his movie Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai. They didn’t know how to get in touch with each other, but fortunately they shared the sam weed dealer. RZA didn’t know anything about film scores, so he made the music by himself and sent it to Jarmusch who had to try mixing it into the finished film.
When RZA met Quentitn Tarantino, they talked a bout the films of Donnie Yen, who was also there, but couldn’t even remember all of the films he’d been in. RZA produced the score to Kill Bill. After watching Tarantino direct in Hong Kong, RZA told the director, “I want to be your student.” RZA spent six years under Tarantino’s tutelage. RZA said having a good film teacher is like having a kung fu mentor, he recommends all aspiring directors should get a mentor. When RZA finished his first film, The Man with the Iron Fists, Tarantino said, “The student has now graduated.”
RZA’s first cut of The Man with the Iron Fists was over three hours long. He learned you have to kill your babies to make you film turn out right; let go of what seems important to you. The 40 minute opening sequence, ended up being three minutes long. He guarantees that after you finish your film, you will grow as a person.
RZA concluded by giving those in attendance his 3 P’s of filmmaking.
Persistence – it overcomes resistance.
Persuasion – you have to convince someone who was working for twelve hours to go another twelve.
Preparedness – he quoted Buddha, saying many people walk the path, but they fall off the path because they weren’t prepared.