A Missing Conversation

A Missing Conversation (1,180)

June 17th, 2011

I spent an enriching evening of human warmth and discovery in Fairmount, Indiana. It is the hometown of James Dean, who was a brief vapor of youthful tension that left a lasting impression of dreams in transition.

I thought I was going to have a conversation with a budding, young filmmaker who lived in the community, but it never came to fruition. I do have missing conversations in life—and the vacancy they create often leaves me curious, wondering what could have been achieved if just a few moments of interaction had occurred. How perfect it would have been to talk to an up-and-coming artisan, especially one growing up in a town where another up-and-coming actor like Dean formed his roots, grit and gravel. So being absent of that experience with the gentleman, I’ve decided to tell you what I would have shared in our interchange.

First I would tell him, “Don’t study cameras and designs and try to keep up with all the technology. You decide what you want the camera to do and then go out and find out if it will actually do it. You are more important than all the lenses and angles that can be conjured. The truth of the matter is, any shot in a movie that does not simulate the human eye is more photography than cinema. If you want to go into photography and do landscapes, then you should. But if you want to make movies, be sensitive to how people view things through their own retina.”

Then I would tell him, “Don’t fuss about lighting. What you need to do is see it in your own mind and then find ways to make the bulb and lights better illuminate your vision. What you should do is, number one, set out to make a movie that captures a moment of human heart. Great movies are great storytelling. And great storytelling is bringing to the forefront an emotion familiar to us all.”

“Secondly, gently transition human angst into hope. I despise movies that leave me believing that reality is the existence of futility or desperation. Art should exhort, not exhaust.”

“Third, keep it raw and simple. Don’t take your camera in and shoot the whole room when what you want people to focus on are the keys lying on a small table in the corner. Shrink your scenes. I suppose if you want to make blockbusters, you should do wide angle shots or pictures from a helicopter. But I will guarantee you, the more raw and simple you keep your material the more easily it will be absorbed, appreciated and even retained by your audience.”

“And finally, I think it is a responsibility of those who make film to develop projects that make people want to do better. Futuristic scripts that talk about the doom and end of the world, and vampires and werewolves inflicting pain to express love is not only out of proportion to our daily lives, it is also counterproductive to the realization that we have a divine nature that needs to be exalted instead of entombed.”

That’s what I would have told this fine fellow. Of course, he didn’t show up for the conversation. Some people would wonder why. Not me. “Why” only matters to parents and close friends. The universe doesn’t care—just maintains an attendance record.

But it did make me realize that Jesus was God’s James Dean. Jesus was forever young, capturing a moment of humanity, taking the worry away and replacing it with desire, staying simple and people-sensitive, while making folks want to be better. Like James Dean, Jesus angered the old folks, inspired the young, created a new way of expression and was taken away while still youthful—much too soon.

Published in: on June 17, 2011 at 1:04 pm  Leave a Comment  
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