1. Unless the social stakes in your film are high, avoid meandering, plotless narratives at all costs. Reserve neorealism for the inherently dramatic. Middle class white kids eating cereal in bed is not inherently dramatic.
2. Except in the hands of the most masterful actors and directors, interiority is not interesting. Nor is silence. Nor is dispassion. Tell a story that overflows with fervor.
3. Palatable is a synonym for forgettable. Art must be a shock to the system. If no one loves or hates your film, you’ve failed. Always seek to elate, surprise, undermine, or offend.
4. Do not confuse wit with sustaining insight. Conceiving a film should be more rigorous than composing a Facebook status.
5. Every visible cut breaks emotional momentum. Cut only when you must cut, not when you think you should cut. A well-composed, well-choreographed scene may only require a single shot.
6. Moviemaking is expensive and arduous. Make a film not because you can, but because you must. But do not expect acclaim simply for shooting a feature-length picture. You are not an artist because you worked hard.
7. Every movie that seeks to make a financial profit without earning an artistic one deserves eternal anonymity. Exclusively commercial film ruins culture. Commit to lofty ideals, and refuse to let your confidence embarrass you. Take yourself seriously!
8. You cannot replicate a Hollywood picture on a truly independent budget. You must recognize your physical and financial constraints. Focus your ambition on story, concept, composition, dialogue, and performance.
9. Dedication trumps pedigree. Recognizable actors add nothing to a film unless they commit wholesale to your vision. Cast actors and crew who will make grand sacrifices for you, but realize that harmony is overrated. Court the difficult, so long as the source of that difficulty is always in service to the work.
10. The audience thinks it wants relief, but it needs relief like it needs processed foods and reality television. Give them what they really need: Enlightenment!
11. From architecture to clothing, we live in a world of creators who are chiefly concerned with utilitarian economy, not posterity. This is short-sighted. Strive to create cinema that will stand the test of time.
12. Only by resolving to tell a precise truth are you doing your audience justice. If you don’t know what you want to say, no one will care how you’re saying it, and you’ll waste everyone’s time.
13. In Iran, even the most diffused cinematic criticism of the government can result in the filmmaker’s imprisonment. And yet they continue to make films. Do not take your freedom of speech lightly. Be controversial!