Making Your Own Movies

Not everyone wants to make a movie. For those that do, there are several categories that divide them based on their level of interest and commitment. There is the casual movie-maker, the person with the iPhone or iPad who likes to film things around them for a few seconds to a few minutes. On the other end is the professional movie-maker, the person who has at their disposal equipment worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, millions of dollars in their budget, and hundreds of professional crew at their disposal. Then there is everyone in between.

The thing is, no matter where you fall into this spectrum, there is absolutely no excuse for you to not be making movies. A simple iPhone gives you a great camera, and with iMovie and GarageBand you have a complete editing and publishing studio. It’s that simple. People don’t realize that fifty years ago none of this existed. Only film students, with access to equipment that they would never be able to afford, could film and edit and produce the product of their imaginations. Today that is not the case.
Kevin Smith once said making movies these days is so easy that there is no excuse not to be doing it, if that’s your thing. I completely agree with him. I just listed all that you need to make a movie. Not just home movies, but an actual film. It may not compare in quality to the multi-million dollar studio projects, but you can get pretty close. Add to that the availability of software like Apple’s Final Cut Pro (my favorite) or Adobe’s Premier Pro and you have, literally, the same gear that the leading studios have. Imagine that. For a few hundred bucks you can work on the same software that created Oscar-winning films. Take that up a notch, add Apple’s Logic software, Motion, and Compressor, or Adobe’s After Effects and Audition and you have even more of what the studios use. It’s a bit costly, but like with anything you spend the equivalent in money that matches your interest.

You want to make five-minute shorts? Whip out the iPhone or iPad. Five-minute shorts with a little more photographic flexibility? Pick up an HD video camera for under $1000.00. Use iMovie to piece it together. Create your own tracks in GarageBand. Bam! You just shot and edited, effectively produced your own film. Sure, you may have to embrace the learning curve that comes with using software but I can tell you with certainty that anyone, and I mean anyone, can figure it out and do some really great things. A movie is a movie, regardless of the quality or the length. You just have to do it.

While we wrote a short film and hired (well, they did it for free, so ‘hired’ may not be the right word) some brilliantly talented actors we essentially made a home-movie. Pulling strings we were able to land some real camera equipment, sound gear, and a boat-load of extras in the form of family and friends. Still, we had $0.00 for a budget. We pulled in a few hundred dollars in donations, of which we spent mostly on catering for the actors and crew and the equipment. That’s it. The rest; filming, editing, VFX, sound design, etc… was done by us. We learned the software as we went. We had to. Why? Because we wanted to be a film group and we wanted to make a movie. Our commitment level was simply this: come hell or high water we were going to make a film.

And we did. And so can you. If you are at all struggling with the desire to turn your idea into a film just do it. Hat-tip to Nike for that. Grab anything that records and get going. If you need to write it first, then get writing. I’ve covered that previously. Don’t know how to direct? Learn. Watch a few movies similar to your idea. Pay attention to the camera angles, the lighting, try to imitate them with by filming small clips to imitate the shot you would like to do. Doesn’t look the same, or nearly as good? Tough. Run with it. Don’t let it be an excuse to put the camera down and your ambition on the shelf.

Software intimidate you? It’s 2017 folks, there isn’t a single task on this planet that does not have a YouTube how-to video covering it. iMovie and Final Cut Pro are no exception. Don’t play an instrument to score your own music? Fire up GarageBand and use the many sound loops that come with the software to create your own score. Sure, it may not win an Oscar for Best Motion Picture Score, but it’s a score nonetheless. Just make the movie.

Life is far too short to let the imaginary limitations brewing in your brain keep you from fulfilling your dream. Yes, it is true that your finished product might be a giant turd, but even then you will be in the best of company. Dani and I spend a fair amount of “movie time” picking out what we know will be just the worst horror films ever made. Terrible production quality, bad acting, horrible writing, and more often than not nearly non-existent sound. Thing is, we love most of those films. For one, we respect that someone made the film. They made it, regardless of their doubts or obstacles. Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead, by Kiah Roache-Turner, is a prime example.

This film had very good quality all around. What makes it especially wonderful for us is that Kiah filmed this movie only on weekends. For three years. Yes, that’s right. For what had to be three long, arduous years, he could only afford to shoot on weekends. And he did. And the end result is spectacular. The consistency, flow, continuity are all fantastic. We would have never guessed the production was so broken up over such an extended period of time. Yet it was. Our appreciation for this movie comes not just from the fact that it’s a pretty good horror film, but that it was made with such passion and commitment. I can only imagine the things that were said to Kiah during filming. I would bet good money people told him to give up, that it will never be completed, and that he fought monetary issues until the very last minute of post-production.

To put it all in perspective I offer this; my seven year-old daughter has made five movies, ranging from three minutes to seven minutes. Most of them she shot on her iPad, a few I helped hold it for her. She transferred the files to her MacBook Pro (13″ mid-2012) and used iMovie and GarageBand to cut them herself and score them. One film she did completely on the iPad, using iMovie and GarageBand in iOS to finish the project. Sure, being homeschooled she has the benefit of us teaching her about this stuff, but she’s seven. If you are reading this odds are that you are a bit older than seven, so you should be able to wrangle your way around software easily enough.

Make your movie. Make a short of it. Make a trailer for an idea that you have. Make a small documentary. Shoot your kids/spouse/sibling/parent and doctor up the video to elevate it from “quick shot with the phone” to an actual movie. Thirty seconds or three hours, the length doesn’t matter. What does matter is you. You doing the thing you dream of doing and want to do. Make your movie. Maybe it won’t reach the level of “How To Shoot Zombies” created by a seven year-old, or maybe it will be the darling of Sundance. You won’t know until you do it.

And once you do make that film… Make another.

Getting It Done

Original post http://www.midwestfilmgroup.com/blog/jim

One of the hardest things about writing is finding the time. This is an age-old dilemma. There are hundreds of “how-to” bits online or in bookstores on how to create a writing routine. Personally I find the entire concept a waste of time. Some of our greatest writers have spoken of their routines; writing for an hour every morning, standing while writing, dedicating a space, the list goes on. While that sounds like it may be the way to go, to follow the practices of famous authors/writers, I put this out to you for consideration. Most of these people are dead, by their own hand, or died with a reputation for being completely mental. Is that really the best model to follow?

What I have found to be the best path to writing your novel or script is to simply write when you can. Do not set times or a schedule. The fact is that life for most people is just too chaotic to even try to set a given day and time for writing. It sets you up for failure. The first time you miss that scheduled moment will make you feel like you have started on the road to failure. Then, the second time comes up. You get the picture. I can say with certainty that you will never get anything done if you are encumbered with the feeling of failure before you even get the boat out of the dock.

Finding time is simple and you can never go wrong. Instead of binge-watching something on Netflix when you have some spare time, push yourself to sit/stand/lay/crouch/hang and write. Don’t buy into the whole “get your head in the space” thing either. If you are a writer, you can write wherever and whenever the opportunity presents itself. If you need to be in the mood, have an entire setup just-so, or be wearing your favorite old socks in order to get word on the page, good luck. If you spend every waking moment fighting the urge to stop whatever you are doing (for most of us that is our day job) and start writing, even if only for a couple of minutes, then you are on your way. Make it simple for yourself. Do it. If you have five minutes, then write. With so many apps out there you have no reason not to be writing on your phone or tablet. If you are one of those unfortunate few who have access to nothing during the day, then bottle up that energy for release sometime in the evening.

We work from home, we homeschool our daughter, and we have family we interact with. Our days are pretty busy. Anyone with kids knows that free time is almost as rare as finding a unicorn with a fifth leg. Still, we have managed to write a short film, a short adaptation, two feature scripts, a mini-series, a pilot and three additional episodes as well as a series bible, and all of the related research and rewrites by following the simple plan of writing when there is time. Let’s not forget the time spent writing or giving pitches. In all of that we still find time to write. For us that ends up being a Saturday or two a month. That’s right, a Saturday or two. We’re talking marathon writing sessions that last ten hours or more.

There are other periods where we take a few minutes to discuss or make notes on things we are working on, but for the most part we grab time on those Saturdays we do not have our tiny little time-bandit. We still watch movies or shows on television, spend every night with the little one, tuck her into bed, and spend the next three hours putting up with her strolling downstairs a dozen times to make what she perceives to be important post-bedtime announcements. We don’t schedule time for Saturdays, or any other time, because there are still the things that need to get done that have to do with life. Errands, shopping, household projects, family visits, you know the drill. So rather than set ourselves up for failure by setting the day in stone we look for that free time an pounce on it.

Sometimes it’s Friday night for a couple of hours. Sometimes it’s during the week. More than once we have had spans of three or four weeks in between writing sessions. That’s life. Roll with it. If you are serious about writing and this is what you want to do, you will make it happen. You need to be careful though. You need to avoid falling into the trap of cutting out all things to make more time for writing. Do not cut out the things you enjoy, and for all that is holy do not ignore or put off your family. Spouse and kids come first. Always. Remember that.

All things considered, this just comes across as more of the same advice that I mentioned at the start of this piece. This advice, however, does not require that you subscribe to a service or hand over your hard-earned cash. And, like all other advice, it comes with a couple of caveats.

Where I earlier said that you should avoid a routine, I’m now saying build yourself a routine for those moments when you do have a large block of time. Make the most of that time by creating your sphere of solace. Have a playlist ready to go if you like to write with music in the background. Have those dim lights or candles ready if you like ambience. In short, be prepared. Writing is supposed to be something that you enjoy, and like most other things in life that bring joy there are a few, rare moments when the universe will align and make it near to perfect. So, when that moment presents itself, conquer it. Conquer it hard.

Depending on what you are writing; novel, screenplay, play, or music, allow yourself to say “No.” What does that mean? It means that a great deal of writing needs research. It’s not enough to pull something from the garden of your mind and toss it on the plate for consumption. Sometimes you need to season it, or evaluate the available recipes in order to get the most flavor out of it. Saying “No” means that you take that writing time to think about your story. Think about the details. Is there something that you need to read up on in order to make a certain element of the story believable? Are there several ways you could attack the next line of dialogue? Instead of writing, take the occasional opportunity to examine or research.

To keep from caveats being the last little bits of information nuggets as you get to the end of this I have one more piece of advice. Get tools.

Get a tool to use for your writing. Stick with it. If you are writing a novel, and you are like me, something simple like Pages or MS Word will do the trick. Basic and does what is needed. If you are someone who feels more comfortable with a suite of tools to help you out with organization and notes, something like Scrivner would be the way to go. If you are writing screenplays but have zero funds, go for Celtx. Or, again, if you want a much larger tool, save up for Final Draft. We use Final Draft, and I have to say I am glad we made the splurge four years ago. Anyway, whatever your tool desire, fulfill it. Save if you have to, but get the tool that feels right for you.

Having a go-to tool will make your moments of writing all the more productive. You learn how to work within the parameters of that tool as well as how to conform the tool to your needs. When you reach that joyous middle-point where you and the tool find symbiosis your productivity will skyrocket. A familiar writing tool is a needed comfort. Particularly in those moments when you feel like your story is starting to fall out of your control. When you have a tool you know and trust, that feeling of control can easily return with a few passive-aggressive finger or mouse swipes to beat that story block into submission.

And there you have it. Write when you can. Don’t fret over the frequency. The bottom line is success is not found by cramming in the time. It’s found by creating the very best work you can create, with the time available to you. For some it may take months, and for others it may take years. Ultimately we are all reaching for the goal of writing full-time and getting paid for it. Then it’s not an issue. Writing, all day, every day, and paying the bills and living a comfortable life comes at the end of whatever road it is that you have to travel.

Keep that in mind, because my next piece is going to be about making films. Same idea, but all about making that movie after writing it.

So We Did This Thing…

alice-title-v2A couple of days ago a flash drive was dropped off at the Wisconsin Film Festival.  On that flash drive was the culmination of more than a year of very hard work.  Alice Has It Under Control is a film.  No longer a project, or a work in progress, or a demon sucking the life and confidence out of all of us, it has developed and grown into an entity no longer dependent on us for sustainance.  It has gone out into the world on its own.

Mind you, we love our short film.  We are fiercely proud of what we have produced.  Yet, there is a strong sense of relief that this creation no longer needs us.  The countless hours and late nights doing post-production.  The pre-production nightmares of scheduling, casting, and trying to figure out how to make a film with $0.00 in our budget.  The talks, arguments, disagreements.  We are fiercely proud of all of that as well, and those things will stick with us for the rest of our lives.  They are our battle scars which we will wear with pride.  They are testament to our dreams becoming reality.

We have no idea how many people will see this film.  We have no clue if anyone will remember it after walking out of a screening.  What we do know is that a little over a year ago we met as strangers and decided to form a group and make a film.  Today our film is done, and we are working on our next project.  We have no illusion that it will be any easier than our first, but we will trudge into the fray with full hearts and the same unlimited enthusiasm we put forth into Alice Has It Under Control.  Sane people may ask why anyone would do this?  So much work for little if any reward.  Sane people will ask, but filmmakers will answer:

Because we love making films.

We love to write them.  We love to direct them.  Produce them.  Shoot them.  Edit them.  We are filmmakers, which means we will spend as many late nights as fate will permit us wrenching our brains and stamina trying to get the job done.  We are doing what so few will do.  We are living our dream.

So it is with no small amount of satisfaction that I bid farewell to our little film, as it heads out into the world to be viewed and judged and loved or hated.  It is also with no small amount of dismay that I do this because I will miss those terrible, frustrating moments that reminded me just how insane the dream of making movies can be.

For now I am fortunate enough to share that insanity with my co-founders, who are the very best that this world has to offer.  I am truly blessed and humbled.  We did this thing.  This thing called Alice Has It Under Control.  Yeah we did.  And we’re going to do it again.  Oh yeah, believe it.

Movie Troubles – Or – Moviemaking in General

We hit a small snag in our short film production.  I’ll paste the contents from my site blog below.  Getting set up to pitch our feature film to a studio exec this weekend.  Very, very exciting.  Naturally hoping for the miracle outcome, but mostly excited to be pitching at all.  Now, about the short…

Things Happen

Last week we were the recipients of some unfortunate news.  One of our actors informed us that they were dropping out of the project.  The small crumb of relief that came with that had to do with their decision was not based on the project, but instead some external factors.  No production, large or small, wants to hear that news.

While it is disappointing to be sure, we were not soured on the actor.  Life is a game of tangled circumstances and decisions, and regardless of the details choices need to be made for one’s self above all else.  On a personal level we were sorry to see our actor depart, not just from the project but from acting in general.  On the production front it was disappointment with a modicum of panic.

Even in the best of circumstances, say a multi-million dollar project, the loss of an actor is a pretty big deal.  Yes, there are a number of actors out there who are very talented and would love to jump into the part, but finding that one person to fit the role is never less than incredibly difficult.  That’s where we are today.  Finding that person to replace our actor and fit the part, particularly when the part pays nothing and there is no remuneration in the future for this gig, is going to be a nightmare.

Our one saving grace is that so far not one scene had been shot with this actor.  Those scenes were slated as the last of the bunch, so we still have a chance at this.  It does of course mean that we will be pushing back production once more.  I can’t help though to think ‘so what?’  This film will get done.  Maybe we’ll wrap it up in 2015, or maybe we will stroll into 2016 before this thing is wrapped, edited, and ready to show.  Or 2017.  As much as I am excited to see this film finished and to show it to people, I find that I really don’t care when that happens.

No small indie film group has had an easy start.  More importantly very few have had the generous endowment of luck to run through a production without hassles.  Yet those films get made.  It’s because we love what we’re doing, meaning all indie groups, that our films get made eventually.

Take for example Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead.  Say what you will about this Aussie indie horror flick (which is actually pretty good) but you will have to balance any review with one incredible fact: it took three years to film that movie.  They did it only on weekends, and only when they could afford to do it.  The end result is spectacular when you think about it.  They loved what they were doing and focused on that.  Not on timetables or money, although money is important, but on getting the thing made regardless of what it would take to make it happen.

Three years later they have a film that has garnered a cult following and, in my opinion, should rack up some pretty nice awards for the cinematography and special effects of nothing else.  Granted our project is a short film and most certainly not on the scale of this full-length motion picture, but the core values are the same.

We will finish.  We will make a terrific short feature.  We will both hate and love the memories attached to it.  And for me, I’m loving every high and low that it has delivered.

State Street and the Mayor

Sounds ominous, doesn’t it?  Like some kind of epic stand-off promise to be reached at the end of a film.  To a degree it’s true, it is a stand-off, and it is ominous.  Mayor Paul Soglin recently vetoed a beer license on State Street.  Before I go any further I just want to make it clear; he did the right thing.

You can scroll down to previous posts I’ve made about downtown Madison, and in particular State Street.  When I moved back to Madison in 2005 the changes had already begun.  I didn’t like any of them.  In the past ten years I have watched this iconic portion of the city be reduced to a tavern-happy yuppie-fest systematically killing off everything that spoke of history and culture.  A real history and culture, not this slapped together mess of money-lined pockets and capitalization of college students’ desire to drink themselves stupid on a regular basis.  A history and culture that spoke clearly of the generations that made up Madison over the decades.

Mayor Soglin vetoed a license for an establishment that sells french fries.  Oh call them what you want, but no matter how many accent marks you place over the letters of a fancily spelled word, they’re still french fries.  Honestly, kind of a stupid restaurant choice in my view.  Fries are good with things.  Fries alone are, well, still fries and lacking of any character.  They are the sidekicks of food who are desperately without identity when separated from their well-known super hero.  It’s “a burger and fries,” not “fries and a burger.”  Anyway, it’s the kind of place that clearly wants to make money off of college kids who can afford french fries and beer, and not much else.  There is no need whatsoever for alcohol to be served in that manner of restaurant.

More than that, State Street needs another bar like it needs another block torn down.  The bastardization of State Street can be seen in the evolution of bars, or for those who want to be all uppity, alcohol-serving establishments.  If you serve beer, you’re a bar,  Get over it.  A few pubs and nightclubs have always made up State Street over the past 50 years in various incarnations.  But along with those places there were an incredible number of businesses, locally owned, that filled the street from top to bottom.  It was, in all actuality, a bazaar.  So many different kinds of shops, eateries, and people made one feel simply both cosmopolitan and bohemian while strolling along the sidewalk.  Then, beer money started to find its way into pockets.

One of our esteemed leaders lambasted the Mayor saying change was inevitable.  Oh, your Lordship, how wrong you are.  Change in a town can be fully controlled.  Zoning.  Statutes.  City codes.  How is it we have cities in America that are still very much Colonial in appearance and feel if change is this unstoppable, merciless beast that is out of our control?  We have these cities because smarter people than make up our City Council saw the significance in preserving history.  I know that’s a big word for some of our leaders, but sound it out.  Pre.  Serve.  Ing.  I’m sure if they keep at it long and hard by next week a few of them might actually be able to speak it correctly.  Who am I kidding.

Some might ask what is there to preserve on State Street?  Well, seems one owner has seen the light.  The Orpheum sign is being taken down and replaced with a replica of the original.  The new one will have modern elements, like energy efficient bulbs and such, but it will still recapture the retro feel of the theater.  A theater, I have to say, that is nothing more than a sad ghost of what it once was.  A magnificent building dedicated to showing films that has become some weird restaurant and a venue for acts that, quite frankly, are better served in an alleyway.  There is a history to the Orpheum.  A history that tied into the buildings around it.  A look.  A period of architectural history.  A feeling.  A sense of time and place.  A history that is being slowly murdered as State Street is overcome with mainstream stores and the ugliest architecture I have seen since the mid-60’s buildings on campus were thrown up.  The feel of the Orpheum is being devoured by the giant gray and brown turds that will serve as apartments (over-priced) and whatever the stupid chic food joint of the day will be.

Typical

10:30 on a Saturday night. Her parents must be so proud.

The people.  As a kid I would walk State Street at night and never once find myself thinking there would be trouble.  Drunks were around to be sure, but there seemed to be far more non-drinking people gathering after hours making the stumbling immature dolts an annoying minority.  Today it is the other way around.  Each weekend morning it smells like piss and vomit.  And no, it’s not the homeless issue at work, it’s just normal Wisconsinite behavior.  Drink until you puke.  Piss wherever you are.  Ignore the above if you’re a fellow drunk and walking by because, well, you know, you’re going to be doing one or the other within the hour yourself.  Just look at the picture.  Go ahead.  Tell me I’m wrong.

If you’re out during the drunk fest each night then you are bombarded by rude, smelly (sorry folks, don’t care what cologne of perfume you wear, you smell like fermented ass) people who we typically refer to as assholes.  So right now someone reading this might be thinking that they are the exception, that they are the ‘dignified’ drunk and I’m exaggerating.  Sorry Skippy, face up to it.  You’re an asshole just like the rest.  Maybe because the crowd is approximately 80% assholes and 20% the rest of us (sober) it’s allowed to be perceived as good for business and drunks just aren’t called to task.  A staggering drunk is good for business.  A sober bystander scoffing at it all is clearly not worth luring as a patron.

That is State Street today.  I have nearly 10,000 images, having spent an exceptional amount of time in the last ten years walking that street at every hour, that make it hard for anyone to intelligently argue the point that any of this is good.  Yes, things change.  We have wireless across the city where when I was a kid finding a payphone was how you stayed in touch.  So we get rid of the payphone, it’s no longer necessary, I’m good with that.  That doesn’t mean we also tear down the building to which it is attached so we can usurp the local culture by replacing that structure with some mutated transplant from a “more cultured, more modern city.”  It means we call to the carpet building owners and force them to keep their buildings up to code and in good repair.  It means we hold on to the essence of one spot in the city that everyone could share at one point in history and stop polluting it with booze halls.

Exclusive Company

A staple is now a memory.

They’ve already torn down the buildings and put up the turds.  They’ve already forced out long established businesses in favor of mainstream stupidity.  Sad, but we cannot go back in time to undo it.  What is worse is that they’ve made going to State Street unenjoyable.  That should mean something.  Residents should not have to experience that kind of change.  We have malls all over this town, let the ‘upper crust’ go there.  We have bars everywhere, EVERYWHERE, let the boozers go there.  Leave State Street alone.  Find somewhere else to piss and puke.  Get off of my street.

Whether it will make a difference or not, thank you, Mr. Mayor.  The effort on your part is greatly and deeply appreciated.

Making A Movie

A little more than four months since my last post and I am just five days away from shooting my first short film with my new film group.  Midwest Film Group is a reality.  Myself, my darling Dani, and new friends Asa and John are co-founders of the group.  Our first project, Alice Has It Under Control, starts principal photography this coming Wednesday.  Well worth not writing on here these past few months.

This short film is not the only script I have written with Dani.  We have written two feature length scripts, a mini series, an adaptation short, and most recently aside from the Alice script we have started writing a sci-fi series called Saoirse.   The pilot and episode two are done and we just finished outlining the third.  Tomorrow night we scene block it then start to write it.  All thirteen episodes are sketched for the first season.

During production of our short we will also be starting the script for our next project, another short film entitled Cut The Cord.  I cannot begin to detail the excitement and satisfaction these past months have brought.  It has also shed a very personal light on the sad state of filmmaking in Wisconsin.  We have a number of very talented film groups, don’t get me wrong, but what is truly depressing is the lack of State involvement in filmmaking.

In short, we have no film commission.  So many opportunities have been missed because of this.  This state has a trove of benefits to filmmakers from scenery to urban settings, wonderful architecture, and of course a huge repository of talent that does not live on the east or west coast.  I will have a lot more to say about that in my next post.

With luck we will be showing our film at the 2016 Wisconsin Film Festival.  For now though it’s all about living the dream of making a film.

Finally the Season

Winter hibernation is finally over.  Along with it a number of tasks that kept me away from writing.  With the warm weather finally here (nearly) I’m looking forward to coming out of my cave and into the sun.  Much time will still be spent writing scripts and working on a film project this summer, but I will still find time to enjoy the city.

I’m very excited about a new short film group that we have started.  Today we had our first face to face meeting to decide on projects.  Sitting around a large table with people who share the same passion for writing and film that I do is energizing.  We’re going to produce a terrific short film before summer is over.  It got me thinking, this weekend is the middle of the Wisconsin Film Festival.  By this time next year we will, with all hope, be going to see our own film debuting on the big screen.  Film lovers are a different breed than book lovers (I’m both), and when they gather there is an inherent chaos.

So many films, so little time, such rigid schedules.  At times it can be difficult to pull yourself out of the rut of running from film to film for fear of missing something really exceptional.  If you don’t get out of that manic theater-hopping mode you don’t have time to talk to fellow film lovers to discuss just what it is about film in general that is meaningful.  Book festivals don’t have the rigid timelines.  You can catch one lecture or reading, leave if you have to for another, and still manage to have conversations with your fellow bookworms.

This summer I plan to do my best to encourage people to watch films.  Bad movies, good movies.  Silly movies and emotionally moving films.  I think there is a core element we all share with film.  Generally we see a movie in a theater, so we are looking to surround ourselves with people.  We rely on visual stimuli as well as audio comprised of gripping voices and music that punches you right in the chest from the inside.  We want to be taken from the present and tossed into this film world, but we want to do it with companions.  I’ve seen plenty of movies on my own.  I saw 40 Year Old Virgin when I was in Ireland, and I was the only one in a house-converted-theater.  Big screen, funny film, not the same feeling.  Even if I don’t talk to the people around me I want to share that experience en masse.  I enjoy walking from the theater and looking at the faces of my fellow showtime compatriots to see how the experience affected them.  Are they smiling like me?  What did it mean to them?  What will they talk about when they exit?

Books broaden our minds and expand who we are as a whole.  Film however takes us to a new plane by joining us, in the moment, in the same experience for the same amount of time.  A good book is something I salivate over waiting to read it, but I need to find the time and commit to it, which means a quiet place and at least an hour to get into it.  When I’m done reading I can discuss the book with someone or write about it.  But that initial journey is a solitary endeavor.

Film is something that happens.  Light and sound happening in front of me and X number of audience members.  There is an energy, when people behave themselves in the theater, that brings us all together for ninety or so minutes.  We all see the same thing.  We all hear the same thing.  At the same time.  But as with a book we can take away from it singular meanings and observations.  The things we can discuss over coffee or the next day amongst acquaintances.

For me film also exhibits a smorgasbord of talent coming together.  Writers, directors, camerapersons, lighting experts, cinematic masters of every avenue of film creation coming together to take the empty air of an idea, put it on paper, turn it into real performances and create something out of literally nothing that has movement and sound.  For this reason I admire even bad films.  Not just the cult-classic variety of film that is so out of the realm of good taste that it gathers a following, but I mean real stinkers.  I’ve seen a good number of them in my lifetimes.  Even a bad film is deserving of a small degree of marvel.  Something was made and put on film where once there was nothing.

So while it is nice to be outside and walk around downtown, stop for coffee or catch a band playing at the Memorial Union, seeing films will be what I shall push this summer.