Sunday, May 20, 2012


The cinematic storyteller’s facility for observing in any given situation the emotional energies residing within, between and behind dramatic actions requires much more than objective, empirical activity. One doesn’t simply and cold-bloodedly sort out the various pros and cons of dramatic problems, objectives and actions, and end up with a satisfying (read: fresh) dramatic story. Genuine engagement with ALL of the characters relevant to finding the story is essential, but this is impossible so long as one remains merely an ego standing apart from the phenomena that call upon one to respond. You must already BE in some intimate relatedness to the phenomena that claims or calls. It is, after all, this relatedness, this finding oneself in attunement with the CHARACTERS and whatever it is that captures their attention (and our attention!) that calls for observation in the first place! However, authentic observation - as a meditation on character, character actions and character meanings - requires a facility for “letting things be” (Gelassenheit), so that the emotional energy of the film-story is not dissipated or otherwise interfered with.

In film - as in all the creative arts - the crux of the matter is that it is only in one’s complete surrender and openness to the resources available that the “thing” one is finding - and that is finding YOU - can become THAT thing… which reminds me of a story I read about twenty years ago: There was once an art competition in New York and each student was given a cubic foot of plaster of Paris. The winner, a girl, looked at the cube and asked herself, “What does this cube want to be?” At that moment, it appeared to her, it did not want to be anything. She dropped it to the floor. After looking at the partly shattered cube she said, “I see what it wants to be now.” - from Keightley, A. (1986). “Into everything a little Zen must fall”.

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