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Columns / What makes a good film?

by Jaap Mees

In May I’m asked to do a Crash Course in Low-budget film-making in Vienna.
As part of that one day course I will try to answer the question what makes a good film? Without pretending to know all the answers, I will try to give some ingredients what in my subjective view makes a memorable film.

First of all an authentic (no imitation but innovation) rounded story, with multi-dimensional characters, with lots of contradictions and flaws just like real people.

Visually attractive without being to smooth, often especially Hollywood films lack any sense of being alive and are to showroom like. Essentially for a really good film is a sense of beauty, a sense of integrity and a sense of humanity. What often is lacking is a certain urgency and necessity, in the sense that a film is not just another story or worse commodity, but that the reason to make that film is motivated by a need to express yourself in a personal and meaningful way.

And ultimately a film is often as good as the strength of the texture woven between the people in cast and crew. When there is a sort of love between those people it creates that fine and exciting energy called inspiration.

A film is like making a delicious raisin cake, the importance is making this cake as tasty and nutritious as possible, the cream on the cake is recognition in the form of reviews, festivals and awards.