This marks the second installment of our continuing series on the presentations made during our weekly Lifeblue University sessions. LB University gives the members of Lifeblue the opportunity to practice their presentation skills by sharing their expert knowledge on a topic of their choice. Providing each other with knowledge and insight on different subjects expands our breadth of knowledge as professionals and people and builds us to be more T-shaped thinkers. Through creating an environment of continuous learning and enrichment, LB University is one of the ways we support our ideology of combining creative and technology. With these blog entries, we want to pass what we learn in these intriguing presentations on to you.
Recently LB's Jonathan Pacheco gave a presentation on the 'Auteur Theory' and how this idea can be applied to the world of web development and design. According to Jonathan, the Auteur Theory originates in film criticism, stating the belief that a film reflects the director's personal creative vision, as if they were the primary 'auteur' (French for 'author').
Opposition of this theory holds that a film isn't just the realization of a single person's vision, but rather a collaborative effort, stemming from the collective roles of the cast, crew and all of those who have a hand in the film's creation. However, as Jonathan points out, most people subscribe to the Auteur Theory without even realizing it. This point is illustrated through people describing a film as 'Hichcockian,' or claiming that they prefer Spielberg-type films. This kind of talk reflects creative credit bestowed solely to the director.
Despite the circumstances'cast, crew, genre, plot'the director still leaves a recognizable imprint. Scorsese is visible in both Goodfellas and Hugo. Kubrick's touch is noticeable in 2001 and Dr. Strangelove. Spielberg may use his usual crew of Williams and Kaminzki, or he may not, but you always know when it's a Spielberg.
The directors described by the Auteur Theory share certain characteristics, some of these being vision for the present and future, leadership and confidence. A distinctive feature of the films from auteuristic directors is the appearance of stylistic tendencies. An example of this is French New Wave; it became a style of storytelling. Another characteristic is arising themes. This can be seen in Woody Allen's cynicism or the social realism of the Dardenne brothers. Auteuristic directors also reflect growth and life changes in their film work. Spike Lee started out making films like Do the Right Thing and now makes films like When the Levees Broke; this illustrates his personal progression as a director and a person.
The Auteur Theory can apply to more than just film directors. For example, Facebook exudes Mark Zuckerberg's personal style the same way that the creative vision of Steve Jobs is present in all that Apple does as a company. The style of Nintendo's Shigeru Miyamoto can be seen in every Zelda and Super Mario Bros. game. These 'auteurs' all leave their creative print in a very recognizable manner.
Jonathan subscribes to the theory of the 'Group Auteur,' which is the idea that a group, company or entity can work together as one to achieve auteuristic results. While this may just seem like it describes performing as a good company should, it depends on how you view it. Certain companies like Pixar have created a company culture and standard that transcends their day-to-day operations and can be seen in every product it delivers. While employees come and go, the spirit and style of Pixar remains consistent. We can see this same group auteurism in Apple, which continues to function in the same fashion even after losing its influential CEO Steve Jobs last year.
For any auteur, every film or product continues the story. This progression tells the story of who the company is and how it evolves. As web developers, it is important to act as auteurs. The impression we make on the web scene should tell a story about our company. We should continue to strive to put out work that conveys a high standard of quality and a unique way of doing things. Every company and individual should brand their work in a recognizable and desirable way to build value, because if you stand for nothing, you'll fall for anything.
Photo courtesy of Flickriver.