End of the Reel: From the Outside Looking In By Adam Drew
“Hey, do you want to be in a movie?” Oh, that question. It strikes to the heart of anyone’s vanity. “Of course I want to be in a movie,” you think. “If I’m in a movie, that makes me famous!” Your fragile ego sings to you, telling you that being in a short film shot on Super-8 makes you Joseph Gordon Levitt times Kate Winslet. Obviously. I remember my first time being asked to lend my vast lack of talent to a film project. I was a student at the time, and some friends and I wanted to make a commercial for the Eddies, the annual contest sponsored by Big Rock Brewery. We consumed all our props, and didn’t produce a dang thing, except a ridiculous UFO of foam and aluminum foil, but it certainly was a lot of fun. It inspired me. For a while, I would sign a little camcorder out of the university library every weekend, and shoot some random crap with my friends. We didn’t have anything like “editing” or “scripts”, but we produced a variety of hilarious little films, ranging from comic action-adventure to fake reality TV. We shot everything in order, and improvised the dialogue as we went along. Hey, it made our friends laugh. My first serious film project was almost a decade later. My then-girlfriend wrote and directed an amusing little science fiction short about an apartment building that co-existed in multiple places around the world. I played a tough guy. If you knew me, you would know why that was a hilarious choice. This was when my little ego voice really started chirping. I was a damn star. I put some cash into the production, so I was even a producer! It had a real script and real actors (other than me, of course). Once it was all done, it even had real special effects. She even let me clack the black-and-white stripey thing. I’ve got to say, it was an addictive experience. Which is why I’ve done it several more times. I’ve since participated in story editing, voice work, and even a little writing. I also once played a man with a limp and a paper bag on my head. Movies are weird. I’m sure the less-patient among you, dear readers, are now asking yourself “is this guy going to make a point?” And the answer is this: I just did. Movies are weird. Making them is weird, if you think about it: “Hey, let’s have a bunch of people stand around in the rain wearing old-fashioned clothing talking about how people who never existed want to have sex with each other at a funeral!” That’s the sort of thing a crazy person says. Watching them is weird: “Hey, let’s go sit in a dark room with our friends and not interact with them, but stare at a giant moving image of men in impractical costumes punching each other in front of a digital painting!” Insane. And of course, talking about movies is weird: “Oh, yeah, and then when he pscheewww, boom! Then ‘we few, we happy few!’ Oh, and that part where they were hiding in the attic? Amazing!” (For the record, they are discussing Anne Frank and Henry V vs. the Steam Titans.) Storytelling is one of the most fundamental building blocks of human interaction. The audio-visual experience is the most essential form of storytelling. The capacity to create -- from your imagination, your experiences, and the meagre tools at your disposal -- a display that engages, challenges, and provokes an audience, what an incredible and unlikely gift. Make films. Ask your friends to help you. Help them when they ask you. Show the finished product to everybody. It’s really weird, but, it’s also pretty great.