A filmmaker

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A filmmaker, sometimes known as a film director, is the person in charge of planning, directing, developing, and producing motion picture works. Each filmmaker can use their knowledge and original thinking to develop each scene in a movie in their career as a filmmaker. A director is in charge of instructing actors and actresses on how to carry out particular scenes in accordance with performance. By choosing the scene portrayals that are required for the transition from the screenplay, they supply the roles that are played by each actor or actress. Filmmakers offer a creative edge and flair that defines a movie while at the same time providing directions to the performances. Evidently, giving directions for movie performances is significant to a filmmaker since most of them play a key role towards the tone taken by the movie. Notably, apart from playing a significant role in the technical direction of the movie, a filmmaker is as well responsible for the actor and actresses. In order to provide the most dramatic backdrop and ensure a high quality film, filmmakers work with the filming and lighting crew behind-the-scenes. It is worth mentioning that having the ability to lead a large group of as background staff as well as actors and actresses, is ultimately the most difficult aspect of this career. In this regard, the filmmaker is able to produce a film successfully by investing a huge amount of responsibility and placing more stress on the entire process of film production. Therefore, a filmmaker has to be avail his or herself for a better film production.

The Work of Filmmakers

Markedly, the most important work of a filmmaker is ensuring that millions of people across the globe are able to view the movie and contend that it portrays the real-life situations that are not fictitious (Andrew 2004, 55). Joshua Oppenheimer as the Film Director of this film “The Act of Killing” utilizes his creativity to concentrate on making his film depict a real life situation by employing real life stories to his film (Noer and Narto 2001, 114). Joshua Oppenheimer and his Co-director Christine Cynn (an anonymous Indonesian) incorporate a real life story concerning participants of the 1965-1966 Indonesian killings. As Noer and Narto (2001, 116) observe, Oppenheimer acknowledges that prominent countries such as UK and U.S had a collective responsibility for taking part in the crimes in order to make his film real and make his viewers understand the real cause of the killings in Indonesia. Oppenheimer tries to make his film real although the Government of Indonesia had negative response to the movie. To this end, the government through its foreign affairs spokesperson rendered the film misleading and uncalled for with regard to what it portrayed of Indonesia (Cribb 2009, 133). This displays the difficulties one goes through as a filmmaker and thus resulting in the release of a new film by the name “The Look of Silence” that was released in 2014. Cribb (2009, 137) contends that the success of the film came under different steps Joshua Oppenheimer and his Co- Director Christine Cynn took to make sure that the film incorporates real life situations.

Production Stage

Joshua was conducting interviews in the year 2001 for their 2003 film “The Globalisatio Tape” where he and his co-director began to turn up and follow the Indonesian killings that took place in the year 1965 to 1966. Ideally, they were able to move up to the people in the high ranks that were involved in the killings and Joshua’s interviews enabled him to meet one powerful gangster Anwar Congo who led a coup against the Indonesian Government in the 1965 September 30th movement but failed Cribb (2009, 142). Joshua meets Anwar in the year 2005 where he starts shooting his film and consequently attracts other filmmakers such as Werner Herzog and Errol Morris who signed in as executive producers after they reviewed Joshua’s film between 2005 and 2011 (Dancyger 2018, 25).

Joshua meeting Anwar in 2005 portrays the importance of a filmmaker to use real-life situation because he knew that if he met Anwar, he would be able to decipher the cause of the killings and be able to present the idea to his viewers perfectly. Seemingly, as soon as the film was shot and released, it becomes evident that Joshua played a key part as a filmmaker. Accordingly, this turns out real since Anwar could recall and explain everything that took place during the killings. As Hanan (2017, 110) notes, the confusion among most viewers is how Joshua was able to have Anwar yet he and his group were mass murderers and surprisingly, Anwar turned out the best actor in the movie.

The Meaning of the Film

Joshua and his co-director wanted their viewers to be able to understand the meaning of the film. Joshua wanted an accurate understanding and interpretation of the film “The Act of Killing” with a clear transition into the imaginations and memories of the perpetrators, which offer a precise revelation of the mass killer’s minds within the year 1965-1965. Joshua has a strong urge to prove how his film could make the viewers see the horrific vision of a frighteningly threadbare and impunity culture in which murderers have a bizarre ideology about crime against the human race Hanan (2017, 116).

Acting Process

In the film, Joshua is able to convince Anwar and his fellow to narrate about the killings. Consequently, Anwar strikes an agreement with Joshua and gives a clear and concise narration of the events during the killings. Arguably, Anwar and his friends were notorious mass murderers and thus associating them in the film aimed at making them star in a type of film that Joshua loved the most from earlier moments when they used to sell tickets at the cinema which is different from providing a testimony for the mass killings.

The process of acting portrays the real picture on what had happened in Indonesia where the communist community had over one million people killed. Joshua and his team of filmmakers are able to reveal all the killings thereby signifying the extent a filmmaker has to reach to make his film sound like a real-life experience. The use of real actors such as Anwar, who actively took part in the killings, makes Joshua’s film appear real and more of true life stories something that makes him an innovative and creative filmmaker. History is science and study that every individual is eager to hear from or read about and most of the sometimes, individual recognize it as a record of narrative description of a past event. In this respect, Joshua wanted his viewers to be able to understand the history of what happened many years ago yet no one was able to reveal it. Joshua’s dreams are the reason as to why in 2001, he began interviewing people about the killings and manages to meets Anwar, a dreadful killer, in 2005 (Kahana 2016, 32). As the best filmmaker, Joshua had to gather all this information in orderly manner in an aim to present the ideas to his viewers in the most efficient way. Each viewer is now eager to see the movie because he wants to understand the history behind the massive killings that took place in Indonesia.

The ultimate question turns out to be, how then Joshua managed to obtain the information and present it in his movie yet no other party attempted to obtain the information concerning the killings and make a captivate presentation. An article from “The University of Western Australia” by Krishna Sen the Dean of students of Indonesian at the University, exhaustively clarifies the Indonesian experience (Metz 2004, 44). The article asserts that Indonesian’s wounds were too raw and recounts a conversation that Krishna had with the Suharto’s minister of information, Rear Marshal Budiardjo from 1968 to 1973. According to the article, the government made a decision to block the release of the film in 1968 while revealing what Suharto loyalist had made about the Army’s triumph over the P.K.I. In this regard, the government literally insisted that there was no way they were going to advertise a film depicting a civil war (Metz 2004, 47). Joshua in his film talks to the government and he is able to produce his movie finally signifying a very good work done through creative filmmaking. In the year 1984, Suharto’s new order regime, which had started to face popular resistance changed tack. Noer and Narto (2001, 122) suggest that the government was now able to fund a major film production about the killings, guided by the accomplished Indonesian director Arifin C. Noer, with a working title “A History of the New Order.” The resulting film was a docudrama called “Pengkhianatan G30s/PKI” meaning the “Treachery of the September 30th Movement/PKI”, but the film does not depict the military’s extermination of hundreds of thousands of alleged P.K.I. supporters.

Indeed, Joshua’s film produced satisfactory results, which were able to capture the real life situations of history, and until 2012, another prominent Indonesian-language film dealt directly with the 1965 killings (Noer and Narto 2001, 128). The company came from an unlikely source when Joshua flew in to Indonesia by an international union in the early 2000s to give filmmaking tutorials to plantation workers in North Sumatra. Nonetheless, the workers, many of whom were dying from diseases caused by exposure to pesticides, wanted to make a film about their efforts to form a union. However, the Belgian company that owned the plantation hired a local paramilitary organization called “Pancasila Youth” to terrorize the workers, and they gave up on the union. Ideally, majority of them explained to Joshua that the Pancasila Youth had killed their parents and grandparents for being a part of a union in the year 1965. During the acting process, Joshua uses the survivors of the 1965 killings to get fast hand information and uses this information to produce his film. In effective filmmaking, first-hand information is a guarantee for quality and successful film production process.

The Release of the film

As the Director of the Film, Joshua has the ability to give ideas and provide his viewers with the history of all that had happed in 1965 in Indonesia. Joshua’s movie, The Act of Killing obtained global acclamation from professionals. On that note, a report of 96% rating approval was observable on the Review Aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes and based on 136 reviews, the website had an average rating of 8.7/10. Consensus from the website contends that the film was terrifying, raw, and exceedingly difficult and emotional to watch (Otmazgin and Eyal 2013, 118). The movie offered an evocative testament to the confrontational and enlightening might of documentary cinema. Accordingly, Joshua earned great awards for the film as a creative filmmaker and recognized as the Best Documentary Film and Guardian Film Awards 2014 (BAFTA) (Trifonova 2009, 159). The “Metacritic” film on the other hand holds an average score of 89/100 based on 30 reviews thus indicating the film is a “Universal acclaim”. Robert Cribb, the Professor of Asian history at the Australian National University, argues that the film lacks historical context (Cribb 2009, 162). In an effort to respond to the professor, Joshua asserts that the film does not entirely depict the chronology of activities in 1965, but that the film shows an era, which effaced race and murder yet celebrated in an effort to ensure that the public remains brainwashed, survivors remain terrified and perpetrators having the opportunity to live with themselves.


Joshua has a creative mind and he efficiently portrays his skillful qualities when he opts to go back to the people of Indonesia and obtain first-hand information. Joshua, his co-director and the complete team of film directors who turned up to join him produce the best film have achieved great success by enabling viewers to understand what happened in1965. This film history effectively prepares viewer to read extensively and obtain more historical information concerning key events in the past. The use of real characters in the movie makes it real, given that all events that took place during the massive killings as displayed in the film uses the very people who cased the killings. The gathering of such characters terms one as the best filmmaker worldwide because achieving such success is not an easy task to come by.


Andrew, Dudley. Concepts in Film Theory. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004.

Cribb, Robert. 2009. "The Indonesian Massacres". Century of Genocide: Critical Essays and Eyewitness Accounts. London: Routledge.

Dancyger, Ken. The Technique of Film and Video Editing History, Theory, and Practice. London: Focal Pr, 2018.

Hanan, David. Cultural Specificity in Indonesian Film Diversity in Unity. Cham: Springer International Publishing, 2017.

Kahana, Jonathan. The Documentary Film Reader: History, Theory, Criticism. New York: Routledge, 2016.

Metz, Walter. Engaging Film Criticism: Film History and Contemporary American Cinema. New York: P. Lang, 2004.

Noer, Arifin C., and Narto Erawan. Sun, Sun. Jakarta: National Film Council, Dept. of Information, Republic of Indonesia, 2001.

Otmazgin, Nissim, and Eyal Ben-Ari. Popular Culture Co-Productions and Collaborations in East and Southeast Asia. Singapore: Nus Press, 2013.

Paul, William, and Nick Browne. "Refiguring American Film Genres: History and Theory." The Journal of American History 86, no. 4 (2007), 1874. Doi: 10.2307/2567729.

Trifonova, Temenuga. European Film Theory. New York: Routledge, 2009.

April 06, 2023

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