A Dreamer Walking

Time’s Perspective

Posted in Uncategorized by Jacob on November 29, 2011

Time gives us perspective. I have been going over many of my notes from several years ago and realize I have a much different and more developed perspective on them now then when I first wrote them. Many of the things that didn’t make sense back then are making sense now.  This is one of the reasons I would suggest to take notes on interviews, movies, and behind the scenes features you watch, even if they are not as interesting to you or do not quite make sense at first. Time has a tendency to give us a new perspectives. Notes you might not have thought twice about when you first wrote them can turn out to be great revelations a few years later.

Glen Keane, One of the greatest animators of all time and the lead animator for Disney characters like the Beast and Tarzan, was mentored by one of Walt Disney’s Nine Old Men, Ollie Johnston. When Keane came to the Disney studio in the late 1970’s Ollie had already been working at at the studio for forty plus years. Ollie told Keane that Ollie had so much more to show him but he was not ready for it yet. This bugged Keane because he was an ambitious young artist and wanted to learn everything all at once. What Keane did not understand was, Ollie was not saying he wasn’t willing to show Keane all he had to offer. Keane just needed time to understand the bigger picture. Only over a great amount of time did Keane find the perspective that allowed him to learn. Slowly he began to realize that good animation was not about perfecting the technique as much as it was about getting inside the character he was animating and truly making that character come to life.

Steven Spielberg talked about how he needed to wait ten years before he could make Schindler’s List. He said he was just not ready in the early 1980’s when he was first introduced to the project. There was a curtain amount of maturing Spielberg needed to do before he was able to give the project the amount of respect it deserved.

This is a short point but a valuable one. We must be willing as filmmakers to look inside ourselves and understand what we are capable of and what needs more time to mature. I do not think it is smart to embark on our greatest visions right away. Sometimes we need to do a little growing before we are ready for curtain projects. Sometimes we need to perfect the small things before trying to tackle the big things. If you are a filmmaker devoted to pursuing your art form, perspective will come. In time you will be able to bring your great visions to life. However, let time give you the perspective and understanding needed to do your vision justice.

Time and Attention

Posted in Uncategorized by Jacob on May 22, 2011

The other day I arranged a movie night. We were going to sit down and enjoy one of last years best movies, The King’s Speech. The audience was mostly young men about my age, ranging from 18 to 21. There were two parents watching the movie for their second time, as well. I was quite excited to show this movie to my friends. I am a big fan of the director Tom Hooper and think the movie rightly deserved the academy award for Best Picture in this years Oscars. This was actually my third time watching the movie.

The movie was being presented on Blu Ray high definition on a huge widescreen TV with surround sound, to give us the “ultimate viewing experience”. However, less then a minute into the movie I heard a little “buzzzz” sound right next to me. Then within seconds I heard a second “buzzzz” on the other side of me. Then came a “buzzzz” below me. I looked around and too my amazement I saw three of my friends answering text messages. “You guys are going to miss the crucial part of the scene”, I thought to myself. It was right at the moment where the main character of the movie, Albert the Duke of York, was standing in the stair case by a gray colorless wall with the close up of the speech in his hand and a terrified expression on his face. I knew if my friends did not see the lack of confidence the Duke was expressing while waiting to give the speech, they would not understand his stuttering while giving the speech a few seconds later. My friends were also missing the little gesture the Duchess of York was giving her husband when reluctantly letting him go. If you were paying attention to the film you could easily see this subtle affection and distress the Duchess had for her husband’s predicament. We can see how desperately she was trying to give him confidence while whispering in his ear, “It’s time”. I don’t even know if my friends saw the huge machines set up in order to broadcast the speech to the world. They actually might be amazed to see the texts they were constructing to communicate to someone miles away took whole room fulls of equipment less then a hundred years ago in 1925.

I was able to shake off the frustration of my friends missing some of the small details I considered quite important at the beginning of the films because I thought those text messages might have been pretty important. My friends might have felt the need to tell their texting friends they were watching a movie, rather then be rude and just ignore them. However, the texts didn’t stop. Through out the film my friends seemed to be just as interested in texting as they were interested in the movie.

My friends were not even giving themselves the chance to be taken by the film. They didn’t allow themselves to see the true effect the speech therapist in the movie had with the Duke. And how exactly he gave him confidence to step up and become a King. What ended up happening that night was one of my texting friends bailed out half way through because he said he was so tired he couldn’t track the film and my two other texting friends said they could not relate very well to the characters or story. I thought, “How did they expect to relate with the characters or story? They had not even given them a chance to effect them”.

School teachers are not trying to just be mean when they tell you to put your cellphones away when they are giving lectures. The reasons why we are usually not allowed to use cellphones while listening to a lecture, at the dinner table, in a meeting, or when we are in a movie theater is because they take our, and usually the people around us, attention away. Filmmakers literally spend hundreds and hundreds of hours working on each minute of film we see in the movies. They have not spent so much time and effort working on the film only for us to pay attention to the bare minimum. Every detail matters, especially with an academy award film like The King’s Speech. The movie demands our attention if we want to truly get anything out of it. The same goes with any well made film, they require the audience to participate.

We live in the information age. The greatest concern we should have is getting too overwhelmed with information. If we are researching something we just need to type in the subject on Google and immediately we are presented with dozens of articles on the subject. The problem with this overwhelming resource of information is we tend to skim the articles because we are too much in a hurry to get to the next one. If we wanted to we could be having three conversations at once, one through texting on the cellphone, one face to face, and one on the computer. The problem is when we try to have three conversations at once we are not focused on any of them.

The reasons why films continuously get quicker paced and are full of “in your face” visual effects is because studio executives don’t think we can appreciate the quite moments in film anymore. The reason why more and more movies are being made with poor plot lines and shallow characters is because the studio executives know those kind of stories are easier to be made and they think we the audience do not really care. Sadly, these studio heads are far too close to being right, most of us do not care.

The people who payed the most attention to The King’s Speech were the parents who had already watched the film. My generation for the most part seems to not care about these stories which have beautiful character depth and thought provoking story lines, because they don’t have enough action or are too full of duologue. The other night was just one example of an attitude which is becoming much more common. We simply do not care. I would not be mad if my friends did not like the movie if they had been paying attention to it. In fact, their reason I am sure would have helped me develop a stronger opinion on the movie. What frustrates and saddens me is the lack of commitment my friends were willing to give the film. My generation in general has become satisfied with quantity over quality. We rather not have anything go too deep and be too thought provoking because we don’t have time to give any one thing our complete attention.

The studio executives do not care nearly as much about making quality pictures because we have shown we are okay with mediocre. The audience sets the standard towards the kind of entertainment we receive. With the kind of mindset my generation has we are going to miss out on quite a few beautiful things. We can’t see the beauty in a masterful piece of art unless we spend time studying it. We can not understand the beauty in the people around us unless we spend time getting to know them. The same concept applies to movies.

One of my friends who was texting throughout the film said he couldn’t relate to the King’s speech impediment because communication has never been a problem for him. I say that is all the more reason for my friend to pay attention. All you need to know to understand Albert’s problem is in the movie. Film can be a way to experience the world and understand it’s differing views. The medium of film has the potential to reveal truths about this world and who we are that we did not even know were there. It is true films like The King’s Speech are sources of entertainment. But, the best kind of entertainment is the kind that allows us to grow. The films which allow us to grow only require from us an hour or two of our time and attention. I beg you to give it……. for both our sake.

Time Stop

Posted in Uncategorized by Jacob on August 24, 2010

I just recently took some pictures at a friends wedding. This is a picture of the groom. I wanted to create the feeling of motion all around the groom so the groom looks like he stopped in time so that I could take his picture. Making it black and white really helped the eye concentrate on the main piece as well.

Detail

Posted in Personal Philosophy by Jacob on May 29, 2010

I am sorry for not getting a post up in the last few days. I am in the middle of a project that I am doing for a few friends of mine who are graduating from high school.

Working on these projects reminds me about how important it is to commit to detail in your work. I am referring to the extra work it takes to make a project go from mediocre to great. I admire many people from the past who have committed to detail in their work. Walt Disney and his artist were huge on detail back when they got into film. During the making of Snow White Walt Disney looked over every frame of animation not once but more like fifty times. There was a room called the “Sweat Box”, where each animator would bring Walt his work and Walt would critique the hell out of it. At times, Walt would tell his animators to do the animation all over again. That means several months of work was thrown away at times, in order to make better animation that told the story more clearly.

Detail is often forgotten now a days. The thought process is, “How can we get the quick buck?”. The only problem is that detail is what makes a work unique. I realize that I might be taking twice as much time as a normal person in order to get this project done, but I have also come to realize that it is the paying attention to details that make a project last. I am not as concerned about how much time it takes, as long as I am making my project be the best it could be.

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