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September 11 at 8:15am

5 More Qualities Of Better Film

By Ted Hope

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I can’t seem to leave good enough alone.  Previously I worked hard to list out the qualities that I felt lifted a mediocre work into something more crucial, and ushered a good one into greatness.  I hit 32 qualities of better film.  But I have known I have left some things out.  Today I will try to expand the list. Luckily I had some helps from the good people on the comment section too.

33. Command Of The Film Form.  My friend Dan McGuire was quick to point out the absence of this from my original list.  I am surprised I left it out, but not surprised at the same time.  This, without the rest, leaves me empty and is on display in many a corporate product.  With great work, you see all the elements working together: sound, vision, time, the set design, costumes, lighting, graphics and vfx, editing, music and so on.  You know that the artists knew how to collaborate.  Such “command” is what makes certain directors masters and you see it even in their lesser work.  That said it is not far from #11 “Synthesis of Style & Themes” and #12 “Application of Technique” from the original list — maybe mix those up and in the hands of a master you have such command.

34. Love Towards Something Greater Than Yourself.  You can feel this in film and they can’t teach it to you.  Some have learned it too, but do not let it into their work — and I find that a shame.  It’s a quality of great art (and a great deal of mediocre work too).  It is essentially what I was referring too when I wrote this list of 10+ Things To Think About To Make Good Work Great.  #17 on my original list “Awareness & Appreciation Of The World” is close to this Love, but like the point above, it is all about how it is expressed.  Love takes it further.

35. Additive To Our World. How does the film forward our discussion?  Yes, this may be a subset of Awareness Of Precedent, but it takes it a step forward.  And yes, this “additive” may also “subtractive” and close the book on something that has been solved or perhaps best be moved on from.  But like #34 above, when it is there, you know it, and you recognize when it is over that new ground has been covered, and you have earned something substantial as a “Return On The Investment Of Your Engagement”.

36. Discovery.  

Discovery is something that requires help from others.

This is a bit close to “Innovation” (#3 on the original list) combined with “Singularity” (#8 on the original list), but definitely worthy of it’s own mention.  Daniel Bekerman & Mike Chinea pointed out the absence and I think they are right.  Remember that time you saw something you never witnessed before? That time you recognized a truth or appreciated beauty or just fucking felt something you either knew too well from another place or maybe had never ever encountered before?  You can feel the change come over you; maybe it’s not Hulk-like but after that you are never the same. Great films take you there. Great films help you discover the something more, or different, or strange.

37. Strong Attitude Towards Humans, Life, Living & Love.  Personally I would lean for this all to be a humanist approach, but I can also be swayed by the misanthropes too — as long as the passion for or against is committed. And it is a passion not for objects, that great films share, not even for ideas.  Great films share a passion for all the things we share.  We create for each other.  We create for the community.  When I watch a film I want someone to say something about our commonality, and something that truly resonates or even provokes..  I need movies to offer something to carry me home long after I have otherwise walked away. The last thing I want from a movie is to kill time.  Great movies connect me deeper to the things we are all connected to.

Read: The original list of 32 Qualities Of Better Film.

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  1. suchitab / Sep 11 at 8:15am

    Strong Attitude Towards Humans, Life, Living & Love- if we lose this, we will never transcend.
    “Great movies connect me deeper to the things we are all connected to.”

    Thank you.

  2. The Black Board / Sep 11 at 8:15am

    The link to ” 10+ Things To Think About To Make Good Work Great” doesn’t work and I haven’t been able to find it via site search either–but I’d love to read it! Could you point me at the correct link? Thank you.

    I love the “qualities of better film” series and I’m enjoying the process of working through how these ideas apply at the screenwriting level.

    Thanks so much, Ted.


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