“I’m a professional dilettante,” Jim Jarmusch says. “It’s my job is to gather and absorb things that interest me.”
Jarmusch talks a lot about “Strummer’s Law,” four simple words he learned from his friend Joe Strummer (who he directed in Mystery Train): “No input, no output.”
Meaning, we’re going to hear a band, we’re going to go to a museum, or we’re going to go hang out with some writer that we admire. We’re going to get some input, because if we don’t, then we have nothing. It’s a circle. It’s a respiratory thing.
When I studied with Nicholas Ray he was always telling us, “If you want to make films, watch a lot of films, but don’t just watch films, go take a walk, look at the sky, read a book about meteorology, look at the design of people’s shoes.
Which, come to think of it, sounds a lot like his quote in Steal Like An Artist:
See also: Brian Eno on “import and export,” “Input and output,” and “Problems of input are problems of output”