Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Some evening musings on film

Often times I sit and think about what it is I actually do for a living and my mind begins to go in all sorts of directions. Essentially, we in the film industry work on a refined process of creating illusions that come close enough to something our brains interpret as some level of reality. There has been a lot of discussion on what makes film what it is. Walter Murch, the great editor of Apocalypse Now, The Godfather Part II, and The Conversation wrote a great book on breaking down the way film goes past being a series of flickering images.

Going to the movies is kind of a bizarre concept. You go into a dark room full of seats and strangers. You shut off any connection with the outside world. The lights go dark. And you sit and stare at a white wall with projected images flickering on it in rapid succession. Yet, this experience draws us in. It challenges us. It inspires us. It was enough to make me want to spend my life trying to make those experiences for others.

It's even more bizarre to think of how distant those images are from their original creation. When you watch Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia running from Stormtroopers in the Death Star, you're not thinking about the rehearsals, repeated takes, missed cues and stunt teams behind those images. You're not thinking about the electrician hurrying to get the 1K scrimmed just right to cut the glare from Stormtrooper #5's helmet, or the caterers that are running behind on lunch because an actor wanted their salad without croutons and someone forgot, or the AD barking orders at the below-the-line crew, frantically trying to stay on schedule. You're not thinking about all of them, but they're there. All of them working tirelessly to bring you a moment that you almost forget is purely fiction, and purely illusion.

So what are we in the business of doing? My answer to this question will change day-to-day, but today my answer is this: We're in the business of manufacturing a meticulously staged series of moments, capturing the images and sounds from those moments, extensively manipulating those images and sounds, and getting those manipulated images and sounds to dark rooms full of people. Somehow, after achieving all of these things, our real goal is to make those people in those dark rooms feel something. And that's what we do.

And you know what? We love doing it.

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