Thanksgiving and Givingthanks
I left a drinking establishment last night in a state of much confusion, trying to sort out a Big Question in my mind.
I’d been with a group of friends talking about why we do what we do. Some had talked about the Art of Creation, others about the lifestyle profits afforded them, or the power their role gave them over others. When it came to my turn to speak I was lost for words. Why had I spent seven years at University and over twenty years in film and video production?
When I was a kid at college it was about the elitism of becoming a Director, the thrill of playing with fabulously expensive toys, about being an Artist with a capital A. When I entered the industry it was about the competition to finish a project first and best, to win an award, to hear the white noise roar of people applauding your work – and earning more than you could possibly spend was just another bonus, a measuring stick. It was, and still is, a powerful and addictive drug to take.
Then some strange sense of reality clicked, and I realized that I didn’t have a wealth of stories in me that the world just had to hear, and that what I created wasn’t fine art that should be captured and held for posterity. What I do is take other people’s stories, their hopes and their own amazing skills and find a way to explain and illustrate them for others to experience, and hopefully have the insight, experience and tools to do their stories justice in the telling.
It’s hard to explain. But the obvious way is the easiest.
~ To wake up knowing that a young girl who lost a leg in an accident has already been traveling for hours to sit with you and tell how she wants to be a professional dancer, to shoot her moving across a hardwood floor, and see the joy on her face and know she will succeed is humbling.
~ To edit hour upon hour of video shot by a grandfather-to-be of nothing more than him sitting in a hospice bed talking about his life and all that he has learnt that was good and worthwhile, in order to create a life lesson for a grandchild he won’t see before cancer takes him.
~ To interview a mother about hope and faith for the recovery of a son left paralyzed after being accidentally shot in the spine by his younger brother, and be there to witness his first barely controlled movement of a pinky finger.
~ To take the work of another film maker lost in the spectres of his past and temper a story from the mass of material, and see his reaction when it is shown for the first time.
~ To explain the importance of a scientific discovery found through a lifetime of dogged research and huge intellectual jumps by a biologist and her team in a way that allows the rest of the world to understand the impact it will have.
~ To listen to a group of musicians play and translate their sound into pictures with a depth that adds another dimension for the listener, and open a conduit to the pleasure and heartache that music can carry.
~ To simply shoot a football game and provide an insight that will enable a player to get better, his family to see the fluidity and grace he has attained, and perhaps open the door to an education that was out of reach.
Words can’t adequately explain the new journey you go through with every project, in whatever role you get to play.
It doesn’t really matter what the story is about; whether we are directing, shooting, editing or coloring; the journey is in finding a concept and style that allows it to be told as effectively as possible – in understanding and translating; the payback isn’t in creating Art, earning major profits, or being cleverer than anyone else – although these may happen from time to time… it is in waking every day and knowing that you are making a profound difference in someone’s life by letting others become a part of it, and being humbled by the trust they place in you to do it as well as it can be done.
Some days I thank the heavens that I have the chance to live this life, because we are so lucky to be a part of this insane industry of ours. Other days I just get confused and a little grouchy…