17 July 2009

Why Film?


I've been doing some passion-searching lately. I love films, I love watching them, I love the process of making them. I love having made films. I hate the bit between the writing and shooting of the film - that lovely time known as pre-production. I recognize the value & importance of it, but it doesn't change the fact that it's a pain in the ass. Particularly where money is concerned.

It is the absence of creating that annoys the hell out of me. It's the gap between the gestation & blueprinting of an idea and the execution of an idea. It's a necessary yet annoying speed bump. Like those around schools. You know they're there for a damn good reason (slow down and don't run over children), but it still doesn't change the simple fact that it's an impediment on your forward motion. (I use this example because of my former dwelling on a street that became a school driveway... annoyed the hell out of me).

OK... casting is fun. But still...

In my previous life as a music composer, there were parts I despised, and parts I really liked. The main love was immediacy. I could write something, plug it into a computer, get it out there (or not) and move on.

Fortunately, as a writer/producer/director, film is suited to my dilettantesque ways. I can play in many sandboxes and never get too much sand in my shorts. I just have to make sure the sandbox doesn't overflow, become filled with foreign objects, or have its sand used as a weapon against the ocular regions of unsuspecting prey.

What is it about film as a language that appeals to me?

Every form of art is its own language. Music is considered the universal language (True, the end result may be, but the written text is like asking a 3rd grader from Ohio to read Beowulf aloud in its original text). I adore the language of film.

The combination of written word, imagery, sound, and a healthy dose of stage magic is irresistible. An evocative title sequence? A well constructed action sequence? A perfectly cut conversation between two great actors in a mundane location? Mother's milk.

I've tried writing novels. I adore reading. If I could do one thing for the rest of my life, I would read. The accumulation of knowledge through the left to right scanning of a page is a daily joy. And novels are an extremely visual form of storytelling. You provide the music, the shot composition, the cuts.

I'm sure if an idea comes to me that would work best in prose form, I would write it that way. It's just that whenever I write, I start seeing how it could be told cinematically, and I start having fond memories of playing with action figures.

Maybe that's it - making films is just like playing with action figures. Only they're real, and they don't bow to your beck and call. And the locations are better.

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