A Dreamer Walking

Weight and Consequence

Posted in Uncategorized by Jacob on October 16, 2011

It seems like I was one of the few who was not too impressed with the last Harry Potter films. To be honest I was not too impressed with the last two Harry Potter films. The reason is because the director David Yates seemed to not be interested in expressing the weight and consequences of the last chapter of the Harry Potter story. Oh yes there was plenty of fighting, flying, and spell casting, yet all of it seemed to be for little cause. They wanted to destroy the evil Voldemort because he wants to destroy all the good in the world and become Lord of all. However, we are not given much of a reason why Voldemort is so evil. He is like so many other cliche villains, only fighting against the protagonist because that is what the story requires.

The weight of the last two films was taken away because David Yates was not interested in concentrating on the actual consequence of Voldemort’s action and the cost of killing him. What David Yates seemed to want when it came down to it was a entertaining blockbuster that would not frustrate his broad audience. He sacrificed many of the needs of the story for the comfort of the audience.

Most audiences like to watch cool action sequences full of explosions and people dieing all over the place. In Harry Potter it’s an added bonus that the action is taking place in a wizard world where their are fantastical monsters and spells being cast all over the place. Yet, few like seeing the consequences of fighting. Sure someone dieing from a distance is cool but when you actually know that person and you need to see the results it has on his or her family and close friends, its a different story.  The last battle in Harry Potter is full of consequences, the school is destroyed, many main characters are killed, and the world the wizards live in will never be the same. However, all of this loss was underplayed in the  film.

The school and characters killed were neither set up or cherished much after they were loss. In reality (Spoiler alert) when Fred died we only had one scene mourning his loss. After the battle when Ron is talking to Harry he seems to have forgotten all about his brother Fred. The movie barley acknowledges (watch out another spoiler) the death of Professor Lupin, one of Harry’s most cherished teachers. It even seems like the main characters are not too interested about the damage done to the school they spent the last seven years living and studying in. It is a typical mistake in high budget films for the filmmakers to get so carried away with blowing things up that they forget the value of the things they are destroying. I just wanted one or two scenes of someone like Hermione walking into her old corridor where she used to live and seeing all the graceful carvings and paintings she used to admire as a child destroyed. I wanted the camera to concentrate for just a few seconds on the ripped up banners and blood stained tables in the banquet hall. I wanted to actually see an honest reaction from Harry, Ron, and Hermione on the things that were lost during the “last battle”. However, hardly any of this came to be so when Harry moves on it isn’t a very big deal. The consequences were so distant I didn’t really care about the victory at the end.

It is not the action that creates the entertainment, it is the characters. The action in a story should only further our connection with the characters. The reason why I needed to understand the motives of Voldemort is because it gives validity to the actions of our hero’s. When we can understand Voldemort’s obsession with power, we become much more respectful of Harry’s fight against it. The objective for the last battle should not have been to give us a visual effects feast, the objective should have been to bring to completion the journeys we had been observing in Ron, Hermione, and Harry. Even though it doesn’t feel good to see the true results of what war and fighting brings, allowing us to see these things gives the stories and characters substance that impacts us far greater then a few cool special effects.

If you truly want to impact an audience give them a reason to truly feel for the story and characters you express on screen. In the last chapter of Harry Potter we didn’t get to the bottom of why Ron and Hermione fell in love with each other. We were not allowed to truly get to the bottom of why Harry was so set on fighting against the evils of Voldemort. The weight comes when you set these things up well. You must give us a reason to why characters are doing what they are doing. When we know what the characters are truly fighting for and what they have to lose, the stakes get higher. When the stakes are high you have an audience who is truly involved with the story that is being told. Consequence is one way to make the story more real and it gives us a contrast that is needed so we can better understand and appreciate the light at the end of the tunnel.

I am not saying the last chapter of Harry Potter was a total bust. It had elements I truly liked. However, the focus was for the most part not in the right places and thus the movie became less memorable and less impacting. You must give your audience a reason to remember your movie. Any film can create cool effects. However, there will never be another character exactly like Fred or Professor Lupin. And there will never be a school quite like Hogwarts. The heart of the film is often found in the quite moments, the time between the action and dialogue. It’s there where you will find the weight of the movie. Sometimes consequence is needed to validate that weight. The most important thing is to stay a servant to the story no matter how great of a budget you have or large your audience might be.

Make it PERSONAL!!!

Posted in Personal Philosophy by Jacob on June 6, 2010

Film making needs to be personal. The reasons why I have a story worth telling is because of the personal aspects I bring to it. The personal style of each director and artist is what makes film interesting to watch. I think some of the best advice I have gotten on film came from Brad Bird (director of The Incredibles and Ratatouille), when he was asked, “What is the best advice you have for an upcoming film maker”, he replied, “Go experience life”.

I just got done working on some very sophisticated slideshows for my friends. I realized that I was able to bring a lot more emotion and individuality to the project because I knew the people in the slideshows personally.

When it comes to film, the audience has already watched a movie that has had a beginning middle and end before. If you break down a story to its basics you will find that there is no such things as a truly “original” storyline anymore. Most movies have a hero and a villain and usually the hero wins out in the end. The reason why people do not stop after watching one film, is because each director and artist have their own personal take on the story they are telling.

The more personal you make your project the better of a reason someone has to check it out. Brad Bird told the upcoming filmmakers to “experience life” because our individual life is what makes our thoughts and expressions unique. One of the greatest gifts we have is our own unique view on life, we as individuals are able to shine a light on any curtain subject in a different way then anyone else.

One of the greatest keys to making good films is to “Make it PERSONAL”. When I begin to direct a film I must be able to take it personally and go into depth on what I think would express the story I am trying to tell the best. When I start to write a story I look at my personal life as my main inspiration. Sure I watch movies to get inspired and might even take a few pointers from other directors on how I go about creating and/or executing my story best. The power of the story however, should come from my own personal touch. I want to draw from real life when it comes to creating a unique character or story line. I have tried to look deep into my relationships with friends for the foundations of the Characters I create. When I am in charge of shooting a scene, my number one question is, “How do I feel about this shot?”. The more confidence you build for yourself and what you truly think, the better you will be able to express it on screen.

What I am saying mostly applies to any given writer or director of a film book or play. The director’s job is to follow his or her own personal heart. The people following the director have a job to obey the director. I am not saying, “If you aren’t a director don’t bring in your personal touch”, just followers need to be just that, followers. Being a follower might call us to sometimes sacrifice our personal preferences. We need to allow the director to make his or her movie. If the director has a personal vision, your job is to make that vision come to life.


Finding Neverland

Posted in Movie Reviews by Jacob on April 25, 2010

Finding Neverland is a wonderful movie about the power of imagination and friendship.

The movie is loosely based on the true  1904 story of James. M. Barrie and how he created the story for his stage play (and later book) Peter Pan. The filmmakers said that they were inspired by true events but never wanted to have the movie be an exact representation.

No matter how true the movie was to the real event, Finding Neverland was a great film. The movie deals with some very mature issues. We are introduced to James Barrier in a very depressing time in his life. He just has had a play flop at the theaters and his marriage seems to be declining. Through the efforts of trying to make a new and successful stage play, James runs into a family consisting of four boys and a single mother. The mother of course has her hands full with four children, so James decides to help out. There are many things that interests James about the family, he find great qualities in all the children, but James takes a particular liking to one boy named Peter.

Peter is a boy around age 9, that has sadly already grown up. His father died from a sudden illness and Peter has never been able to deal with what happened. Peter is a boy who does not want to show his hurt and because of that he has hidden himself away from anything that could give him life and then be taken away again. James is able to impress most of the children though the power of his imagination, but Peter stays reluctant to buying into James stories and imagination. I think that James sums up Peters problems at the beginning of the film by telling him, “With those eyes lad you will never see”. Peter has cut ties to everything that could hurt him and by doing so, Peter is blind.

The beauty of the film for me was how James was able to let Peter become a kid again and see. James makes Peter realize that you truly lose those you love by cutting ties with them, but when you allow them to be part of your life and infect who you are, they will never leave. James uses a journal that he gave him as an example. James points out that those people who Peter loves will always be in the pages and stories he creates. James shows Peter that the imagination is is the gateway to those he loves, no matter where they are physically.

Mark Foster was the director of Finding Neverland. I think he filmed the movie quite well. There was a curtain rhythm to the way he shot each scene. Mark talked at length about how he thought the way the director and actors staged each scene has a just as much to do with getting the audience into a rhythm as the music and cutting. Mark let us as an audience see James imagination. When ever there was a scene of James playing with the kids, we went to and from reality and James imagination. Mark was able to show us someone who was not limited by reality, we saw that James had a imagination full of  creativity that infected the people around him.

Mark talked about approaching the film from a child’s eye. He and the rest of the crew did this with great success. The basis of the movie was about holding on to that child within and never letting your imagination die. This is one of those movies that touches on one of the cores of what life should really be about, because of that I think it will always be relevant.

Finding Neverland is able to give you new eyes. You will see the power the imagination holds and how it can be a light in the hardest of times.