While I was in Europe, I shot sixteen rolls of film on my camera in six months, and in twelve or so different countries. I didn’t mark any of them, so when I returned to the U.S. I had no idea which roll of film was from which trip, but now that I have money to develop all this film I’ve been choosing a couple rolls at random and letting myself be surprised by the result. Now I’m kind of glad I didn’t have the forethought to mark them! Here are some images from the first four rolls!
London, United Kingdom
Quoth Shakespeare: “All of life is a stage.”
This is essentially the conversation I had with an old friend last week, and I’ve been ruminating on it ever since. We talked about how it’s difficult to think of a facet of life that doesn’t entail acting in some form or another, even when we’re by ourselves, and how often we follow a script, from small-talk to overarching plot progression. And then we started talking about life as a film. Each individual life falls into a film genre, from indie to big-budget blockbuster, and from that supposition there are essential questions to be answered: When does one go from a stand-in to leading actor? When does one become the director? What if you get tired of the script?
I get frustrated with myself sometimes because I feel like my life is veering from the script I’m meant to follow. Where other people my age found niche jobs in the field that they studied immediately after graduation and are making a decent living, I was unemployed for more than half a year, am currently working a job that I’m not passionate about but that I stick with in order to pay the bills, and don’t have any clear direction about what I want to do as a career. I’ve been graduated for almost a year now, and I feel stagnate, like I haven’t progressed at all. I’m moving laterally when I want to move up.
Projecting into the future, I started thinking about what film genre my life might fall into. Will I be a blockbuster film, with lots of financial backing and comprised of a star-studded cast, where I will do and say all of the right things and have a happy ending every time? Or will I be a moody indie film, where the plot is slow but deeply contemplative, and where the ending is ambiguous and more than likely depressing? Or will I be like a Juno, that starts out as an indie film and then is catapulted into the cultural stratosphere as an iconic story with cross-over appeal?
I think where I struggle the most is in fighting the urge to try to fit the blockbuster mold that I’ve been conditioned to want. The script is as old as time: go to school, find a job, get married, have kids, grow old, retire. I suspect that the reason I get frustrated with myself is because I was looking at college as a means to an end, a springboard into a lucrative career that would lead to the rest: the husband, kids, retirement, etc. But I think more than anything, it was a springboard into discovering myself. And through that process of discovery, I’ve realized that that the blockbuster isn’t the story I want for my life. I’ve realized that, though stability is nice, I don’t want the job that makes me the most money if it means I have to compromise my creativity, that I don’t want the husband and kids anytime in the foreseeable future (or maybe even at all), and that the possibility of what my life could be, the room to move around and have freedom, is what will lead me to the place (physically, emotionally, professionally, spiritually, etc) I’m meant to be. But coming to terms with that and accepting it can be hard.
I’m the kind of girl who lives in her own head, who trips over things and is often socially awkward: I don’t think I’m blockbuster material.
I see my life as more of an indie film because it doesn’t necessarily have to please or impress financial backers or the mainstream audience; it has room to stay true to its artistic integrity, and to be raw and unpredictable and melancholy. As it stands, I have no idea where I’m going, and I mean that in every sense of the word. I don’t know where I’ll live a year from now, but I have a feeling it won’t be in Seattle. I want to apply to graduate school, but I’m torn between pursuing creative writing and interior design… two fields that are worlds apart. And then, I want to make Haus of Lux a full-time career. And then, I also want to just put all of my possessions in storage and be a WOOFer in South America, working on a farm in exchange for room and board, and experiencing a new country on my own. What is the common thread between these things? If you can find it, you’re one step ahead of where I am, scratching my head in confusion. But the great thing about this is that I can do any of those things if I choose to. I have no one and nothing to die me down and keep me from living adventurously.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that I accept that there is a script for me, but that I feel like I’m living my life as if I’m doing a blind reading in a rehearsal room. I have no idea what’s coming next, and I can find both excitement and peace in that. I can see struggle and financial hardship in my future, but I can also see a lot of laughter and adventure and joy; but right now, it’s all just a vague outline of what will become a more definite shape. I’m happy to read the script and take it into consideration, but I want to push the boundaries and deviate from it as much as can be allowed, and not just read the lines that have been put into my mouth by someone else. I’m making a move to be my own director, but I’m really just flying by the seat of my pants, hoping it will all turn out, or at least be interesting to the audience.
This may be common knowledge, but seems to be a general rule that movies based on novels are not any good. I can only think of one movie that did any sort of justice to the novel: Atonement. The rest I’ve seen, however, have been near blasphemous. I read The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo last week, and as soon as I finished it, I watched the film version and was so disappointed. I also went and saw Eat Pray Love on opening weekend (which I probably wouldn’t have done if a friend hadn’t wanted to see it, and definitely wouldn’t have done in hindsight), and though the book was only average, the movie was horrendous.
Why is it that movies based on novels are so awful, and take so many liberties with the original story? I think it mostly has to do with the difference between the two mediums of storytelling. Movies are meant to be watched in one sitting, which means that the entire story has to fit into the span of two hours, three hours at the very most, whereas books can be read in intervals over the course of several days, or several weeks even. Movies are targeted toward the mass public, whereas books are targeted toward a much smaller population of people who will actually put in the work to read it. In my experience, I can’t form an opinion about the value of the film until I’ve seen it through to the end, whereas I can tell pretty quickly whether or not I’ll like the book I’m reading.
I read a book a couple years ago about the making of the film The Bonfire of the Vanities, which was made in the early 90’s and based on a book by Tom Wolfe that was widely regarded as the quintessence of the 80’s. The film absolutely bombed, and before it was filmed, as Wolfe was signing away the rights to the story so that it could be made into a film, he was asked how he felt about the idea of his book being turned into a movie. He basically said that he didn’t care one way or the other, because even though the film was based on his book, it was still going to be it’s own artistic entity, and if it did poorly, it wouldn’t take anything away from his book.
I find this statement very interesting, and it’s something that I try to remember when I see movies that are based on books. It’s like everyone (myself included) wants the experience they had reading the book to be directly translated into film version. Which, if you think about it, is near impossible. There is so much interiority in novels that is really difficult to convey visually, and so much that seems to be of less importance has to be cut out because of time constraints. And the way I see it, there are some stories that are just meant to be told in a particular way. A book that is meant to be a book is not going to make a good movie, and vice versa. I mean, could you imagine if The Catcher in the Rye was a movie, or if Inception was a novel? It just wouldn’t have the same effect, wouldn’t have the same impact on people in an alternative form. I don’t think I could say that one medium is always better than the other, but I think I can say that one is better than the other in the context of how a story should be told.
josh discovered an amazing stop-action video last night. it’s by a fellow named keith loutit, who is documenting twelve months in ‘little sydney’ through short films like this one. i’ve always admired the technique of stop-action for it’s painstaking attention to detail and the time and diligence required to complete a single project… i’m certain that i could never have the patience to take on such an endeavor. this video is amazing and mind-boggling, and the music goes perfectly.
there are a slew of other short films on keith loutit’s vimeo channel. check it out here.
so i watched rear window this past weekend, and while i have an irrepressible love for jimmy stewart and his cute voice, i was preoccupied for most of the movie with something that jimmy’s character’s nurse said at the beginning of the movie:
“we become a race of peeping toms. what people ought to do is get outside their own house and look in for a change.”
which made me think celebrity gossip magazines and e!news and such things, and how easily they can turn people into peeping toms, to a certain degree. it’s so alluring to let yourself be absorbed by someone else’s life and problems, and in that sense, it’s a sort of escapism; we love to see famous people screw up their lives because it makes us forget for a moment how much we’ve screwed up our own lives. i’ve read a lot of magazine articles where actors or musicians were interviewed, and voiced their extreme contempt for the invasiveness of the paparazzi. i’m always incredulous when i read something like that, because paparazzi seems like the smallest part of the larger problem; photographers are just trying to make a living by giving the public something that’s in high demand. it seems to me that the real problem is the everyman’s obsession with famous people’s lives, which are really not that different from their own (aside from their heightened public visibility and economic standing). and then i thought about the irony of that nurse’s statement in a film, which also kind of turns people into peeping toms on a fictional world and which also functions as escapist entertainment. and then i laughed.