“The enemy of art is the absence of limitations.” ~Orson Welles
The Danish “Dogme 95” directors created some amazing films, and their famous Manifesto, below, still resonates with us. Try replacing “movies/films” in the Manifesto with “names/naming” and consider how it applies to the process of naming and branding:
- Dogme 95 is a collective of film directors founded in Copenhagen in the Spring of 1995.
- Dogme 95 has the expressed goal of countering ‘certain tendencies’ in the cinema today.
- Dogme 95 is a rescue action!
- In 1960 enough was enough! The movie was dead and called for resurrection. The goal was correct but the means were not! The New Wave proved to be a ripple that washed ashore and turned to muck. Slogans of individualism and freedom created works for awhile, but no changes. The Wave was up for grabs, like the directors themselves. The Wave was never stronger than the men behind it. The anti-bourgeois cinema itself became bourgeois, because the foundations upon which its theories were based was the bourgeois perception of art. The auteur concept was bourgeois romanticism from the very start and thereby … false!
- To Dogme 95 cinema is not individual!
- Today a technological storm is raging, the result of which will be the ultimate democratization of the cinema. For the first time anyone can make movies. But the more accessible the media comes, the more important the avant-garde. It is no accident that the phrase ‘avant-garde’ has military connotations. Discipline is the answer … we must put our films into uniform, because the individual film will be decadent by definition!
- Dogme 95 counters the individual film by the principle of presenting an indisputable set of rules known as THE VOW OF CHASTITY.
The Dogme 95 VOW OF CHASTITY
- Shooting must be done on location. Props and sets must not be brought in (if a particular prop is necessary for the story, a location must be chosen where this prop is to be found)
- The sound must never be produced apart from the images or vice versa. (Music must not be used unless it occurs where the scene is being shot).
- The camera must be hand-held. Any movement or immobility attainable in the hand is permitted. (The film must not take place where the camera is standing; shooting must take place where the film takes place).
- The film must be in color. Special lighting is not acceptable. (If there is too little light for exposure the scene must be cut or a single lamp be attached to the camera).
- Optical work and filters are forbidden.
- The film must not contain superficial action. (Murders, weapons, etc. must not occur.)
- Temporal and geographical alienation are forbidden. (That is to say that the film takes place here and now.)
- Genre movies are not acceptable.
- The film format must be Academy 35 mm.
- The director must not be credited.
- Furthermore I swear as a director to refrain from personal taste! I am no longer an artist. I swear to refrain from creating a “work,” as I regard the instant as more important than the whole. My supreme goal is to force the truth out of my characters and setting. I swear to do so by all the means available and at the cost of any good taste and any aesthetic considerations.
Of course, every Dogme 95 director broke one or more of these rules, but having them in place and following them as best they could gave them their work a structure, a framework that lead to the creation of some brilliant films. It should serve as inspiration to anyone involved in a creative endeavor, including the naming of companies and products. Make sure you have a rigorous structure in place for your naming process, and stick with it. Also, the brand positioning should serve the function of a “vow of chastity,” and any name that doesn’t support the primary positioning directives of a brand should be jettisoned in favor of those that do.