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  • Hayao Miyazaki is a master artist, storyteller, director, writer, animator,

  • filmmaker, and humanist. His film work stretches over a span of decades

  • influencing every demographic of people in his ever-growing audience. Many film

  • buffs placed him on the list as one of their top filmmakers for any myriad of

  • reasons; whether it be the emotionally relatable stories, the visual appeal of

  • his hand-drawn scenes, or his well written characters, Miyazaki is definitely one of

  • my favorite filmmakers for all of these reasons but there's one thing in

  • particular that I find striking about Miyazaki's work and I want to study the

  • decisions he makes as a filmmaker in order to make his stories impactfu.

  • There's a great documentary about Miyazaki and his fellow workers at

  • Studio Ghibli called the Kingdom of Dreams and Madness.

  • During this documentary you are taken through the journey of Miyazaki making

  • what is potentially his last film ever, The Wind Rises. As he goes along figuring

  • out the details of this last story he is sharing with the interviewer his process,

  • some of his nuances, and even what has kept him going as a filmmaker for nearly

  • five decades. He is making his last film in his 70s drawing every scene and

  • writing every character to life. The main thing that Miyazaki aims to portray in

  • his films is the human experience. There's quite a lot of fantasy in his

  • films but he does a good job of understanding that fantasy is okay to be

  • obscure, but the stories of the human characters are portrayed just like that,

  • human. Many of his protagonists begin their journey with some lack of

  • experience or growth, but finished their journey with a newly learned lesson or

  • discovery and by no means are the protagonists perfect. Miyazaki

  • understands that even good people experience things like jealousy or

  • laziness or one-sidedness and those aren't inherently bad qualities because

  • everybody experiences these at one point or another. Everybody knows what it's

  • like to be thrown into a situation of total confusion or what it's like to

  • have a thought about vanity. It's the way that these characters navigate their

  • situation that makes them who they are and essentially teaches them

  • quintessential life lessons that is then reflected to the audience. Miyazaki often

  • speaks about what people want and what people think, and it's because that's what he

  • observes and has been observing his entire life, and this awareness of the

  • way people actually are is reflected in every one of Miyazaki's films. The first

  • thing that I found compelling about Miyazaki's process is the fact that he

  • never has a script for any of his original films. He just has a general

  • idea of what he wants to do, then he starts to visualize it, and he draws the

  • entire film in storyboards. Sometimes he doesn't even add dialogue for the

  • characters until well into the storyboarding process.

  • Studio Ghibli will start animating the first half of the film before he has even finished the

  • second half or the ending. The process takes so long that it would be

  • counterproductive to wait for the entire storyboard to be completed. For one

  • Studio Ghibli film, Miyazaki could have 50 artists simply drawing different

  • aspects of the film, like the backgrounds the characters, the movements, the

  • obstacles. For every film it seems like Miyazaki challenges himself to draw

  • something new or different and he maintains a deep involvement in every

  • process of the film. Whether it be overseeing other artists, being present

  • for the voice acting, the music composition the digital animation,

  • everything. During this documentary he talks about his struggle with drawing

  • airplanes, which is sort of a big obstacle considering the movie is about

  • airplanes. I just find Miyazaki's dedication to the

  • visual art of storytelling so important The fact that he is willing to try to

  • tell the story simply with images first sort of forces him in a way to make this

  • story flow without dialogue, so when dialogue is added on top of the

  • story it makes sense. Many filmmakers today use dialogue almost exclusively as

  • an expositional tool. Instead of showing you what happens next they have a

  • character spoon feed it to you by blatantly explaining their situation.

  • Films are far more compelling when they show you how to feel instead of telling

  • you how to feel. All of Miyazaki's films are drawn so beautifully in their own

  • ways that you already know what to feel, and this is largely due to the fact that

  • Miyazaki knows how to illustrate the basic subtleties of human interaction

  • and show a wide range of different emotions just by things like body

  • language or the way a character does an action; and because of this, the dialogue

  • is almost strictly for character interaction and occasionally a piece of

  • wisdom or thought, instead of exposition. To any filmmaker who is trying to write

  • a concept or to anyone who is having trouble finishing a script, I would say a

  • helpful tool is to always storyboard your film. So many people undervalue this.

  • Even if you aren't the most well-rounded artist, drawing stick figures and poorly

  • rendered structures will start to give you a better vision in your head of what

  • you actually want to put on screen and perhaps it will even help you to finish

  • your story, but most importantly it will help the

  • people who you are working with to understand your vision much more clearly.

  • Adversely to trying to tell them what you're seeing in your head or what

  • you're feeling it will be much easier just to show them instead. If you don't

  • know how to storyboard don't worry it's actually pretty simple, the channel

  • Rocket Jump Film School made a great video on the basics of storyboarding and

  • I highly suggest you watch it if you are interested. I will leave a link in the

  • description. It's not just the fact that Miyazaki

  • storyboards to better visually tell this story.

  • He is also storyboarding because the visuals of his film are half the

  • experience. In an animated movie specifically drawn by an artist with the

  • caliber of Miyazaki, the limits of reality are truly stretched, and as a

  • result of it, amazing visuals emerge all the time. There are very few times in a

  • Miyazaki film where you can't pause it and feel like you're looking at a

  • detailed painting. It's just beautiful artistry in motion. Towards the end of

  • the documentary Miyazaki and the interviewer are at the first screening

  • of The Wind Rises. Miyazaki has finished his last film and he is reflecting on

  • the experience of his entire career. He calls the interviewer over to the window

  • of a tall building and asks her to look out. He tells her this.

  • When I heard this it struck me

  • that this man wasn't just making films to tell stories. He was drawing the

  • realities he wanted to experience. whether it be a train track moving along

  • the ocean or a castle in the sky, Miyazaki was imagining these stunning

  • worlds and bringing them to fruition through his artistry and I'm truly glad

  • that he did, because they're amazing and that's the reason I titled this essay,

  • "What You Can Imagine." The message I want to get across is to remember that films

  • are make-believe.You can create whatever you want in them especially as

  • technology advances more and more every day, so don't be afraid to push the

  • limits of what's actually possible and show people the world that you imagine.

  • During an interview with Stanley Kubrick in the 60s he said that one way

  • filmmakers can improve the industry is to be more daring and more sincere

  • so take risks, push the boundaries of what's possible, and create stories with

  • characters that are true to the human condition. Thank you guys for watching. I

  • hope you enjoyed. If you did please like this video. It simply tells me if people

  • enjoy what I'm making and it ultimately decides if I should keep doing it. If you

  • have any suggestions of topics about film or otherwise you think I should

  • study, feel free to leave it in the comments below. There's much much more to

  • be said about Miyazaki as his filmography is so diverse and his

  • stories are much more immersive than I am probably portraying them, so if

  • you're still interested, I would highly suggest you watch his films and see for

  • yourself. My personal favorite is Spirited Away. Also many other people who

  • study film have covered his work in more detail, specifically about his characters

  • or his attention to detail regarding animation so you can research that as

  • well if you like. Anyway my name is JD, thank you for watching, and until next

  • time, peace.

Hayao Miyazaki is a master artist, storyteller, director, writer, animator,

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Hayao Miyazaki: What You Can Imagine

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    Elise Chuang posted on 2021/11/01
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