Unlike many of the #usguys, I am not a marketing/sales/customer service person. I’m not even a businessperson. I’m a recent grad with a literature degree and stubborn determination to make it in the film industry.
So what have I learned from films? Nothing.
Sitting still in a theater or on your couch for two hours staring at a screen is no kind of educational tool. Some may say that television and movies teach us about ourselves, about humanity, about moments in history and how they were lived. But they don’t. Culture teaches us about those things. Simply being alive teaches us those things.
To put this all as a cliché, movies provide the lens through which to view humanity. They teach us nothing but might show us everything. By applying different lenses, we can establish a connection to another individual over a simple commonality. Most times, the sense of satisfaction one gets from viewing a performance is the confirmation that your own opinions and emotions are, in fact, shared by other people. That you are not alone in this world. When I read scripts for a Hollywood studio I was on the lookout for this universal appeal. Writing can and will always be fixed, but if your story doesn’t hold potential to connect with a few million people on a fairly broad topic, it was a pass.
Why are movies even considered a social experience? Because we discuss them afterwards, and that active participation (as opposed to passive observation) is where the ‘learning from movies’ kicks in. At this point there are obvious similarities to social media or running a business, but if you ask “What can we learn from social media?” all you’ll hear is ‘Engagement!’ ‘Connectivity!’ ‘Global reach!’
Movies are not meant to teach but to engage. So maybe I concede that movies, and all storytelling really, teach us how to sell ideas by being the exact opposite of educational.
And yet, I wanna be in movies. More specifically, I want to bring about a new era of original movie musicals, relevant to the twenty-first century and which combine contemporary music with the absurd optimism and melodrama of old-school studio productions. Will my movies save the world? No. And they’re not meant to. All I want is to provide people with that moment of “Oh my God, I always thought that too!”