Sidebar: The Relevancy of Answers

A Day at the Park

A Day at the Park

A very interesting find.  Very apropos to the mantra of EYESthatHEAR:

“What’s the point if a wrong answer will stop you from returning to the right question.  Although sometimes people have no questions to return to… which is usually why they defend them, with such strong conviction.

That’s exactly why I am extra cautious with all these big ol’ answers that have been lying around, long before we came along.  They bully their way into our collection without being invited by any questions of our own. We accept them just because they have satisfied the questions of so many before us… seeking the questions which fits them instead…

My favorite kind of answers are those that my questions give birth to.  Questions that I managed to keep safe long enough to do so.”

~ Kostas Kiriakakis ~

I believe there are ultimate, universal answers that define our existence.  However, those dynamic answers are connected to a myriad of questions, purposed to challenge how we look at those answers with our finite understanding.  We think our little answers ARE the explanation of that universal answer but, when challenged, our little answers can be smashed into irrelevance. They are deemed insignificant and inadequate.  When found wanting, too many cast both the little and ultimate answer to the curb, disregarding both as a collective ‘wrong.’  But in reality, our answer to, or understanding of the bigger answer was the one in error – not the ultimate thereof.

Much to think about.  Much to “see with our ears, and hear with our eyes” differently.  Each time.

Filmmaking as a Contact Sport

When I think of contact sports, I think of activities like football, boxing… and sumo wrestling.  But how do I equate contact sports with filmmaking?  They are synonymous on various levels.  Throughout my life I’ve analyzed and intellectualized why one movie reaches me but another does not.  How does a film “reach out and touch someone?”  On three levels: the mind; the heart; and the wallet.  This applies to both the audience and the filmmaker, but for this discussion I’ll focus on the latter.

The mind:

Someone once said that filmmaking is the only blue-collar art form.  When we think of art, one may think of passionate flashes of inspiration out of the nothingness and struggle of life.  That may be true for the initial idea of a story materialized into a film, but the work that goes into its production takes persistent thought coupled with manual labor.  It is multi-faceted, laborious and dynamic.  To make the film work, a filmmaker has to think on specific, yet complex concepts simultaneously.  Because of its complexity, a film takes many hands to keep the machine moving.  Yet each requires timely thinking and attention detail.  What’s interesting is that even the smallest, seemingly lazy thought manifests itself, even by association, in the film.  Something to chew on: if the craft service sucks (i.e. stale bagels and cream cheese that are not complementary… like blueberry and chive spread), then actors and crew are not properly fed, resulting in lethargy and/or grumpiness, which then affects performance and proper tracking of details – like follow focus.  It takes a great deal of present thought to make a film.

The heart:

Filmmaking requires long hours of contribution.  Sometimes those hours are not equally spaced in a healthy way.  Sometimes things don’t go as planned.  Sometimes the crews you have to work with are difficult.  Whatever the challenge, a heart for the art and a belief in the project are what carries filmmakers through to completion.

The wallet:

Filmmaking is an expensive hobby and/or marginally profitable career, at best.  It’s expensive.  Plain and simple.  (See above for motivation)

But never mind what it takes to contribute.  The outcropping from successful completion reaps rewards regardless of what profit it generates.  I turn my attention back to contact sporting.  Training for any sport is hard an often painful.  The muscles stretch, the mind fatigues and the heart tests.  What keeps an athlete going? A number of factors: satisfaction of completion; the winning catch; or knocking the thoughts out of someone’s brains.  Whatever the reason, there is a reason.  And whether the athlete wins or not, they still come out on top.  Why? Because their mind and heart have been expanded.  I submit that the same occurs in filmmaking.  You are challenged and tested beyond the ability you had at the outset.  You overcome fears and doubt.  You test your resolve.  You learn about yourself, others and about humanity by examining the human condition.  We are not on this earth merely to exist or to be acted upon – but to act; to grow; and to multiply what portion we have received.  Filmmaking touches a person.  For better or for worse, it touches them – leaving its mark.  To me, that’s worth every penny spent.

So I venture to say the responsibility lies with the filmmaker in choosing what film to make, because it will inevitably affect the person they are and become.  You may not agree nor see value in this argument, but I have an intimate relationship with how affective the moving image can be on a person.  For a few years I was a combat photographer and videographer.  I spent six months documenting infantry life and operations in Iraq.  It was hard work living, breathing and acting as if I was one of them.  But I did what I had to do to get my shot.  I did what was necessary to tell the story.  As a result, shooting that footage made a profound impact on me – for good and for bad.  I am forever changed because of that experience.  And for that I am grateful, because my abilities, heart and resolve wouldn’t have uniquely grown without it.

Making pictures move is definitely a contact sport.

Ode to the Athenian Philosophers

Dear TEDtalks.  Oh how I wish I could say you are both enlightening and inspiring to me, but I cannot.  There is nothing ground breaking or revolutionary about your initiative (i.e. the term “accelerated innovation”), as all I could think about when watching your videos were the competitions hosted by Socrates and Plato during the reign of the Roman Empire.  The only difference is the forum for exhibition is a digital one.  I will say I was impressed with Christopher Makau: a man who organized a TED event in the Kibera Slums of Kenya.  I also identified with the words of Gale Tzemach Lemmon in her speech about women entrepreneurs being the example – not the exception.  Still, I struggled to sit through enough videos to find a topic I could find my own heart in.  Maybe it’s because I’m more inclined to watch American Film Institute interviews, or “Behind the Scenes” vignettes included as part of DVD supplemental materials.  And maybe it’s a matter of taste, not preferring to sit through pontifications of budding orators presenting established thoughts and ideas as if they were brand new.  It’s harsh.  I know.  But what is a blog roll without a little honest opining?

I prefer humble, private discussions with leaders in my favored industry – directors like Sydney Pollack.

ImageHere’s a man who is totally unassuming, yet a genius when it comes to interpreting the life of humanity through film.  Director Shekhar Kapur spoke in a TED event on how we are the stories we tell ourselves, and I appreciated that.  But the format for delivery is not for my taste.  Give me a two-camera shoot with the subject and interviewer sitting in a private den or study, talking about the simple geniuses of every day life – not as if they are new discoveries, but in a place of respect and reverence.  I don’t need all the trappings of elaborate set design and hoards of enamored people.  Let the films, the work of these greats speak for themselves.

“By their fruits ye shall know them.”