Richard Ayoade is a cinephile. That much is made abundantly clear in Ayoade on Ayoade: A Cinematic Odyssey, his book of essays, interviews with himself and general cinematic musings.
The English comedian, known for his roles in series such as The IT Crowd and The Mighty Boosh, made indie audiences sit up with his features Submarine (2010) and The Double (2013), which showed off a keen sense of visual style and atmosphere.
If you’re hoping to get serious insight to the moviemaker’s creative process from this tome, though, think again; the profundities in Ayoade on Ayoade range from (mostly) satirical advice on screenwriting and character acting, to hilariously imagined correspondence with Terrence Malick.
We’ve excerpted one of our favorite chapters here; may you find a kernel of truth in it.
The following first appeared in Movies, Movies, Movies!!!!
When I start a new piece of work, I always try to set myself rules. I feast on principles, aphorisms and maxims. Brilliant pensées that act as a guiding light for any writer/director/sitcom actor in this messed up monde. For years I have kept the following cards on my bunker wall:
Do Not Confuse the Eye with the Ear, Especially When Putting on Glasses.
Abolish All Distance Between Yourself and the Actors, Except When They’re Getting Changed.
Patience Is Not Only Not a Virtue, It Also Slows Everything Down.
In Film: Soul Should Be Made Flesh. In Life: Sole Should Be Made Fresh.
But as I circle an exciting new film project (the details of which I can’t disclose, except that it will encompass both tap dancing and Victorian naval policy), I feel the need to provide myself with even tighter strictures. If you permit, I shall share them with you now:
1. No more actors. They are all cowards. From now on just use fishermen and cobblers.
2. Record no sounds that could be described as “pre-existing.” Use only sounds the human ear has never heard before! Do not listen to the soundtrack of the film until it has been released!
3. No more lunch. It weakens the intellect.
4. No more cameras. We must find a new way! I propose using “memory stone” to record images. I will only exhibit my films to wizards.
5. No ego (or Eno).
6. Crew should number no more than two people and be NON-PROFESSIONALS (either two fishermen or two cobblers or one of each).
7. The image must not include the idea of IMAGE, except when it is an image of an idea of Image or an image of an Idea (in which case, it may require special lighting, which is NOT ALLOWED).
8. The film must not be edited.
9. The film must have no title.
10. The film must not be a film.
I think we must all stand by these statements both as filmmakers and as audiences (except number 3 – I think I was just full up when I wrote it).
Don’t you feel alive to the new possibilities?! We need a New Cinema! One without cameras or actors or titles or crew or editing or films or Brian Eno! No more stories! No more authorship! We must remove the idea of “I” from Films! Let there be Flm! I will lead you!
Manifesto Update: The Flm-ifesto has proved unworkable. Who else could produce a synth-based score for a story about tap-dancing Victorian admirals starring Colin Firth? MM
Ayoade on Ayoade: A Cinematic Odyssey (paperback, 320 pg.) is published December 13, 2016 by Faber & Faber.