Write, write, write. That is the advice I hear consistently about blogging or about trying to carve a career as a writer. But as I write this I haven’t posted on my blog in weeks. Not because I am not writing but because the creative life takes many forms and for the past few months I have been busy co-producing an annual film festival with an amazing group of people. I have worked on for this festival for the past six years and this year’s festival opened last weekend.
To say the written word is my passion is no small truth. But film. Ah, film is is the window to my soul and my path to the big, wide world. I have loved film since the first time I sat in a darkened room and watched life unfold on a 80 foot screen in living color. It is so easy to get lost in that vast world, in a story that reaches deep into my heart and soul or takes me on a wild ride through space and time. A book can no doubt do the same. But a movie has a soundtrack.
Some say a movie cannot stir the imagination like a good book can but I beg to disagree. To those who know me, there is no doubt that I could happily spend the rest of my days in a large dusty library reading every title from A to Z. But a good film can take me to the end of its reel and then beyond that. A good film can keep me in it’s spell for days. I can watch a good film many times and never tire of it.
As I write this I am sitting in the coffee shop next to the cinema where the film festival just screened the docudrama Straight Outta Compton. A raw true story about five young men who grew up on the wild and violent streets of Compton, California and rapped their way to fame and fortune. Their fierce voices spoke to a generation and catapulted them to the music stratosphere. Can I relate to the life that they had? Not at all. I did not grow up in the mean streets where daily survival is not a given. But I was completely drawn into their anger and indignation. Their defiance and their courage. Their music. Those things are universal.
I believe what makes a great story, whether in print or on the screen are the universal truths we as humans experience. Films can educate, as the group I work with hope to achieve each year when we choose a diverse mix of films for the film festival. Since my children were little, movies have been a part of their lives. There are definitely teachable moments that happen in movies. There is joy and laughter and scary things too. We had to play dress up to watch some movies so that we could be right there with the characters. We were pirates and mermaids and things that jumped out in the dark. We knew all of the songs and much of the dialogue. We have followed movie series together, many of which started with the books. We have learned about different cultures and ways of life. As my children grew, so did our eclectic taste in film. Movies have continued to be a beloved art form for them. I am glad they can feel the magic too.
I confess I have always wanted to be in film. I followed my dream to Hollywood where I could live and breathe movies. It was fun to be on the set and to be a part of bringing a story to life on strips of celluloid although much is digital now. It was also hard work. It was a lot of luck and chance. It can be a long process to get that film to the big screen. But once it did make it, once the lights went down and the screen came alive, the magic for me was still there, even knowing what it took to get it to completion.
My husband often wonders how I can turn on a movie that is half over and start to follow the story line at whatever point I have jumped in. For me it’s like watching snippets and scenes of life. Perhaps I don’t need to know the beginning of the story to appreciate what I am seeing. Life is a never ending story anyway. So many stories about so many lives. Only a tiny fraction of them are on celluloid. Yet for me it doesn’t matter. Sometimes all I want is to be lost in the words or in the spell of the dark theatre. Then the possibilities are endless. The dreams are limitless. The view is spectacular. Pass the popcorn.