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Buddy of DoQ: Thoughts on Life, Machinima, and Everything - Combining the Elements
Buddy of DoQ: Thoughts on Life, Machinima, and Everything
Combining the Elements 
Friday, January 30, 2009, 03:33 PM - Machinima
Posted by Buddy of DoQ
Lets make a short list of your favorite movies, say, the top 4 or 5. Go ahead, I’ll wait for you.

Done?

Cool, what do you have?

Here’s what I came up with:

5) Indiana Jones (1-3)
4) Nausicaa
3) Jurassic Park
2) Seven Samurai
1) Big Trouble in Little China


There’s a clear trend in the movies I picked, they’re ripe with adventure and a bit of otherworldly awe. Not for everyone to be sure, but these movies somehow combine all of the elements of cinema to present to us a seamless alternate reality. I think just about anybody could walk away from these films and “get it.” They might not go and buy the DVD, but for 2 hours they’ll have believe in something more than the uncomfortable seats, stale popcorn, and blurry screen laid out before them. They will have become a part of the world presented to them. Why?

Indiana Jones isn’t just a film that stars Harrison Ford, no, no, no! It’s an authentic adventure that by the second act has you fully acknowledging the existence and even the perils of the good Dr. Jones. And by the closing scene of Nausicaa, you’re so captured by Miyazaki’s world, that you’ve even forgotten that you’re watching an animation.

These are perfect examples of films that took great pains to reach out to us, to lure us in, and make us believe in them. Each frame, every scene, and even the selection of actors are taken into account by the filmmakers. They know if they don’t hit each detail just right, that the audience will not accept the world they are trying to create.

Now for a side by side!

Lets take a look at Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks, both are most excellent actors who often co-star in films; films which often make a great deal of cash monies at the box office.

You’ve Got Mail. If you remember this film at all, it’s likely because you saw the original with James Stewart and wished they had let a good thing be. This is not a horrible movie, not by any means. You could sit down and watch this thing and have a great time. But you know you’re just watching a movie with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. There’s nothing else to it. There’s no magic, no spark, and that attention to the cinematic presentation is lacking and the elements do not combine.

Now take a look at Joe vs. the Volcano. Same actors, basically the same love story, but by the end of this particular feature, you’re genuinely touched! You feel empathy for Joe Banks and his quest for… holy shit, did you see what happened? I just called Tom Hanks Joe! I don’t even remember what his characters’ name was in You’ve Got Mail!

Where do you pinpoint the difference? I would love to say it was the simple fact that I enjoy adventure flicks more than regular romantic comedies, but there’s a lot more to it as Sleepless in Seattle can attest. So what makes a movie good? Memorable? What is it that the audience wants to gain from your work?

I believe that it’s trust.

How do you gain trust from anyone? You have to work for it, you have to present yourself clearly and consistently, you must never waiver from your promises, and you must always give more than you take.

For filmmakers, that means you have to trust your audience first. Trust them to be able to enjoy your film regardless of it’s medium, to understand the plot and dialogue. So you must never dumb it down for the lowest denominator! You will want to leave plenty for those folks to chew on, but never hold their hand. They don’t wash them after using the toilet you know!

So, is skillfully combining the elements something that can be taught and learned? Or do you have to be born to ride? I don’t know for sure, but I’ve seen people grow, and artists evolve. Perhaps, as so long as you truly wish to believe, and trust in your own films… “if you build it, they will come.”

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