Everyone nowadays is a film expert. Aren’t they? Hell, maybe they are. It seems that now by the time you are twenty you’ve seen more movies than the number of books you will ever read in a lifetime. Does that make us less or more literate? Less or more educated? Less or more imaginative? Are we having less or more fun? On what other scale should we consider our artistic or entertainment consumption? Questions with how many actual answers? Does it matter?
Film is a very unique art/entertainment form. For the most part, it pretty much encompasses all the other art forms within its creation, existence, and consumption; music, painting, drawing, photography, sculpture, architecture, writing, and stage drama. There are certainly other types of artistic expression, but these embrace the major ones we usually encounter and experience. Film is also unique in that it is the youngest of all these artistic expressions, as well as being a world-wide major industry that just about anyone can experience or enjoy (or not).
Painting, drawing, photography, sculpture, and architecture exist in different styles and mediums, and are connected by being fixed in time and space. Film is more of a cousin to music, writing, and stage drama in that it plays out over a space of time. However, it is still fixed within that world of creation. The creators have made specific decisions for those subjective worlds to exist in. And as consumers we react to those created worlds within our own subjective sensibilities.
Nothing new here, as I think we all know these things. But since the dawn of film, there has been a very discernable change in the consumption of artistic expression. Film very much dominates that landscape now, even though music and writing still hold respectable positions there. As it should be, since they are much older and more developed mediums, and command and capture our imaginations in ways that film never can. And that is something to feel good about, that there is still room for our imaginations to roam free.
As a filmmaker, one of the things I continually lament about is how once we get our vision from our minds locked down to a final piece, that our imagination about it goes away. We have created what we dreamed of and now it is real in the world. But trapped and fixed, with nowhere else to go but to be consumed by the viewing public. There is that paradox of feeling both good and bad about it. We have birthed our wondrous vision, and we have birthed it imperfectly for all the world to see. When it was in our heads it was ours and only ours, and it was perfect. When the world gets it, it is no longer ours, and others see its actual imperfections. And the imagination that created it is now all gone, for it has been realized the best that we could at that time. Very humbling, for the world glimpses a piece of you that maybe you’d just as soon keep hidden. But yes, part of the creative process, and yes, part of the growing process for a creator. And over time I think the creator makes peace with this and accepts his place as a creator, a communicator, and just another person sharing their experiences, visions, and comprehensions of life on planet Earth. No matter how it may reflect on him or her personally, it no longer belongs to the creator. It is a gift to the universe, allowing others to work their own imaginations with this new gift for them.
Back to those close cousins of film, music and writing. To me these two artistic forms are still the most pure, in that they allow one’s imagination to take over and not be flooded with too much of a finished piece. I have found recently that oftentimes I enjoy reading a book much more than going to see a film. Also it is more active than passive, such as watching a film. Even listening to music is usually more enjoyable. My imagination is not so tethered to an earthbound fixed creation. Granted, it is guided by the tools of that medium, but they allow our imaginations to fly more freely and in so doing, we can escape the mundane sameness and mediocrity of all else around us. And being all within us, there is a certain untouched reality that is unique only to each of us. We should all marvel at our imaginations, and hope that this film dominance never ever diminishes any of it, or in a worst case scenario, actually destroys it.
I guess at this final point I will preach just a bit to, or maybe just offer a mild piece of advice to, parents of young children. Please, before you put your little ones down in front of the TV, or tie them to other electronic devices, or drag them off to the film theater before their brains have had a chance to fully grow and mature, let them develop the deep richness of their own expanding imaginations. It will serve them so much better later on in life, when they can fully appreciate the shared arts displayed in front of them, while still valuing the uniqueness of their precious imaginations.
Author: Jerry Alden Deal
Writer – Director – Producer of Way To Go Media, LLC.
Over the past thirty years Jerry has been hired numerous times to develop and write screenplays for other production companies. During that same period several of his spec scripts were also optioned. ‘Dreams Awake’ was Jerry’s feature directorial debut. He has several other projects in various stages of development. One of which, the feature documentary ‘The Inner Sonic Key’ is currently in post-production.