What a Burmese street painter can teach us about making films

Aung Ko Latt and his paintings.

Aung Ko Latt showed me one of his paintings. The sun rose and casted a golden light upon the ancient temples which were spread out in front of us. Earlier that year, a strong earthquake destroyed his shop and everything he had owned had been lost. In his painting, there was no sign of that experience. His whole life he had worked up at 4:00 am, in the morning, to climb this temple of the past and watch daybreak. Everyday he would try to imprint what he saw, so that later he could paint it with the colors of the earth. Aung Ko Latt carried with him the most important things he owned: some paper and a brush.

Making films and being creative is about seeing, and experiencing things and then interpreting and translating them into something else. It is about capturing something and try to make it last longer by giving it a second life in what we create.

I remember watching this Burmese painter as he transformed a blank paper into a landscape so vivid that it felt real enough for me to just step into. His techniques were impressive. Surely developed over a long time and with much patience. A craft that he was perfecting every day by experimenting with new motives, colours, and perspectives. And it all made me think about how I approach creative processes, and films. How I can get caught up in the game of what microphone will work the best and which camera might have a better resolution than the others. All these questions that take up a lot of space in that part of me which already is dealing with thousands of inputs every second. All these restrictions and things we believe are necessary to create something that I see not only me but all of us put on ourselves in a way to deal with creativity. But what I learned from this man with paper and a brush that day was:

Our view from the pargoda as the sun rose in the early morning

It is not what we have or what we don’t have, it is how we use the resources that are available to us, at the moment.

If we just focus on what is available to us right this moment instead of wondering what if I had something else that would work better, then the idea get space to developed and evolve. We might not be happy with the idea we first see but I dont think that Aung Ko Latt was satisfied with his first drawings either. And that is ok too. As long as we continue trying, doing without censoring our ideas along the way I guarantee you something is going to develop that you really like.

If you liked it then check out www.crooked-films.com where you can see some of the things we have been trying to do