What Is an Auteur? The Secret Behind Standout Videos

By Alvin Motilla

What is an auteur?

Have you ever seen several films from the same director, and recognize similar qualities in that person's works?

You know, all the little things add up, right? How they film the scenes, how long each shot lasts, what kind of story they're trying to tell - that kind of stuff.

So, when I catch a movie by Hitchcock, Tarantino, or Gus Van Sant,
I feel like I could almost see the director's heart and soul. But each one gives me a unique viewing experience.

If you experience the same thing when watching movies from the same director, you may be relishing the works of an auteur.


What is an auteur?


"Auteur" is simply a French word for “author”.

And an author is someone who creates something unique.

In the filmmaking world, auteurs are directors who have...

  • a strong perspective of their subjects, and
  • distinctive ways of presenting them to the moviegoers.
How do you identify an auteur?What is an auteur? How do you identify one?

Because each director is different, each has signature visual and storytelling styles. You can tell that auteurs express themselves through their works.

But "auteur" as a notion isn't confined within the walls of Hollywood filmmaking, or big-budget productions.

I think that if someone really wants to create videos with recognizable qualities, that is still achievable. Even on a smaller scale.


What does auteur mean for you?


Here's the thing: The qualities of an auteur can be present in anyone.

In fact, the seeds of being an auteur already live in you! Auteur is your individual voice.

  • Its eyes see the world in its unique way.
  • Its heart longs to express itself.
  • Its hands itch to share something worthwhile.

The auteur in you has every bodily part that you can imagine... every part it uses to create unique things.

In your case... to create unique videos.

Anyone can become a video auteur... including you.

What is video auteur?

What is an example of an auteur? Video auteur.

It is the creator of your unique video content.

Still, the same voice in you! We’re only zooming in on its passion for making videos.

It has its unique way of expressing... and translating your worldview into video.

It believes that you can make original videos. Because it knows that you are unique.

What is it that you’re saying? :-)...

"Why am I unique?"

Okay, here’s what the auteur in you is saying...

By the way, are you not curious why I know what it's going to tell you?

It is because I also listen to my inner voice. And it tells me the same things you’re about to hear. :-)

What is your inner voice?

“You have four big reasons why you are unique. And they also happen to be what I am made of.

You are unique because of your own...

- experiences
- memories
- attitude
- choices.

These four are very personal and unique to every human being. They make you a unique individual!”

Phew, that’s a profound one! ;-) Oh wait. It has more to say...

“Your experiences... your memories... your attitude... your choices... They are the well of ideas inside you.

And they can help you make unique videos.”

Okay, let me explain these 4 reasons why you are a unique individual...

Your Experiences

Your experiences are unique.

Your experiences include:

  • What you did.
  • What you learned.
  • What you witnessed.
  • What happened to you.
  • What you felt.

Your experiences encompass your skills, discoveries, and dealings with others.

Your Memories

Your memories are connected to your experiences.

This is because memories are the lasting impressions left by our experiences.

Your memory of a particular experience reminds you of how you felt about it.

This is why you have good and bad memories--your impressions about life that are unique in you.

What makes someone an auteur?What is an auteur? What makes someone an auteur?

Your Attitude

Your attitude is the deep-rooted feeling or conviction you have for anything in this life.

It shows in...

  • how you look at something
  • where you position yourself to view it
  • how you approach it.

Your attitude fuels your endeavor. It leaves your signature on your work.

Your Choices

Choice is your ability to make decisions that lead to action.

Of all the four reasons why you are unique, the choices you make in life are the most powerful.

In fact, your power to choose, has authority over your experiences, memories and attitude.

Because...

  • You can choose to learn from your experiences... and even what to experience.
  • You can choose to recall your good memories... and forget the bad.
  • You can “choose your attitude”.

What is auteur: some challenges when collaborating or working in a team


The concept of "auteur" applies perfectly when you're working on your own video projects. You have your personal stamp on every aspect of video production, from pre-production to post-production.

But let's consider other aspects of the real world...

What if you're collaborating with someone else on a video project?

And, more importantly, what if you're working in a production team--big or small?

What do you do in a production team?

Does the concept of "auteur" still apply?

Can you still consider yourself a video auteur?

The answer to these questions lies in understanding this...

Being a video auteur doesn't mean exercising full creative control on a production set, or a shooting environment.

It simply means...

  • being yourself,
  • working from your heart, and
  • applying yourself fully to your specific video making task.

Let's say you're an event video shooter in a small production team, and somebody else is the director or editor. Yes, you may not be the one pulling the raw materials together, to assemble and produce the "final cut"...

... But it's impossible for you not to inject your personality in the way you look at your subjects and shoot videos of them.

An event videographer with a distinctive way of looking at his subjects.

Why?

Because it's you! You have your individuality and special ways of seeing things.

You just can't help being yourself. (Even if you suppress yourself, some part of you will still naturally come out.)

Perhaps,

  • you're good at capturing candid moments in close-up shots, moments that have raw, sincere emotions. Or
  • you have a knack for making your subjects project their best pose, while you're operating the gimbal and the camera with a wide angle lens.

Either way, you have your personal stamp on your shots because of your individuality and unique point of view. Those shots contribute to the video project. And that makes you a video auteur.

I think some people get it wrong when they associate "complete creative control" with "auteur".

Some known directors who are considered auteurs even imply that "auteur" is not about full creative control. One of them is Gus Van Sant...

"Get a really good director of photography, but don’t fight with him. He has the same control over you that you have over the actors, so he can make you cry." - Gus Van Sant


Practical tips for finding your auteur voice


So, how do you find your individual voice and develop your video making style?

Here are some tips and specific exercises to help you discover your unique perspectives, and grow the video auteur in you...

Be aware of what you love

It's easier to say that you "love" something, than to notice yourself that you're really into something.

So, don't rush this.

Start by asking yourself:

  • "What are the topics that I find interesting?" Or
  • "What activities do I enjoy the most?" Or
  • "When I watch movies and videos, what kind of emotions or mental states do I love experiencing?"

Make notes of your findings.

When making notes of things that come to my mind, I simply open a digital notetaking app on my phone. Google Keep Notes is a favorite of mine, as it is so simple and convenient. It automatically saves and syncs my notes across all my devices.

I also sometimes use the voice recorder on my phone. And I find that recording my thoughts while walking puts me in the "flow state". It helps me voice out my thoughts even more.

Interestingly, there's even a scientific research showing that walking can get your creative juices flowing.

I also like to mind map my thoughts. It helps me connect all the ideas together. You can do it on paper or with one of those cool mind mapping apps.

A black and white photograph of me while I'm making notes.

Watch some of the works of other filmmakers or video creators

Believe it or not, this is a key step to developing your own approach, or style to video making.

You're doing this not to become a copy-cat, but to be influenced by the inspiring works of other artists.

Sure, you will adopt and become a "melting pot" of their best practices.

Which means, you will incorporate some of their best techniques and styles into your own work.

So, watch some of the works of your favorite directors, video creators, cinematographers, or editors. Try to figure out what it is that you admire about their works.

Personally, I draw inspiration from the works and approaches of Alfred Hitchcock, Bruno Aveillan, and Gus Van Sant. Just to name a few.

Experiment and practice, even with limited resources

Having limited number of gear is true for beginners. Even for some practitioners, like me.

But you know what? Limitation is a good thing!

Ever feel overwhelmed when you have too many choices? Yeah, same! Fewer choices make it easier to jump right in.

The same goes for making videos. Don't wait for fancy equipment. Grab your phone, find a tripod (even a stack of books works!), and start filming. You'll be surprised what you can create!

As you practice, your video creation approach and style will develop over time. And, you'll also know what other video production tools you'll need.


Unleash Your Inner Video Auteur: Key Takeaways


The auteur in you is waiting to be unleashed.What is an auteur? It's your inner voice waiting to be heard.

We explored the idea of "auteur" in filmmaking and video creation. Here are your key takeaways...

  1. An auteur is an artist with a distinct voice. Their unique perspective and storytelling style shine through in their work.

  2. You are inherently an auteur. Your experiences, memories, attitude, and choices shape your individuality and creative expression.

  3. Being an auteur isn't about total control. It's about staying true to yourself and injecting your personality into your work, even in collaborative settings. Your perspective enriches the final product.

  4. Collaboration doesn't diminish your auteur identity. You still remain "you". Working with passion and applying your skills to a video project all contribute your unique touch.

  5. Develop your auteur voice by exploring your interests and what resonates with you. Take notes, experiment, and practice, even with limited resources.

  6. Learn from other video creators, but don't copy them. Be inspired by their work and incorporate elements that resonate with you to form your own style.

  7. You don't need a Hollywood budget to be a video auteur. Start creating videos with the equipment you have, even a smartphone. Practice hones your skills and helps discover your unique approach.

Remember, the auteur in you is waiting to be expressed. Embrace your individuality and tell your stories through videos!

What story will you tell with your unique voice?