I’m going to take my queue from Mark while I still can and take a minute to talk about what inspires me as a writer and as a person. After all I’ll be damned if I miss out on the chance for some good old-fashioned navel-gazing.
It’s impossible to identify everything that inspires and moves me as an individual, but in the context of The Arts and content creation, my inspiration is the cinema. I realize that this is a fairly broad term so let me explain more exactly what I mean by that.
I am not talking about the studios, the money, the politics or any of the other necessary if cumbersome machinations of the movie industry. Nor am I talking about celebrity worship or the box office, although I am interested in these things on a different level.
I am talking about the byproduct of all those things, the much less tangible moment in a film that moves me to an emotional reaction that sticks around long after the credits have rolled. These moments are lasting and memorable. They get a hold on me (not the other way around) and by way of some mysterious alchemy they become part of who I am.
The Moment is something that comes together against all odds, when film writing, editing, cinematography, direction, acting and sound come together in a moment that transcends the increasingly cynical business of movie making and reaches at some higher truth. It is mise-en-scène at its most successful and effective. I am not overstating this: I believe movies can make you a better person, and it happens in moments like these.
And I’m not just talking about the good old days. You don’t have to go back to the era of Grace Kelly and James Stewart, although you can find it there too. The unlikely and transcendent moments of cinema history are still being made today, and don’t trust anyone that tells you otherwise.
The sequence is fleeting and audiences talking about the movie certainly won’t mention it later. But it stuck with me as a moment which said more to me about the film and its characters than the scenes of jarring violence that occurred after. It was a moment that made me think, even in the dark of the theater: this is what other movies try to do. I had that same feeling watching The Coen bros. No Country for Old Men in 2007, and again in 2008 with The Dark Knight.
Moments such as these are why filmmakers make films, and why we watch them. They succeed because and in spite of the messy business of film production and remarkably, unexpectedly: an emotional truth is found. It explains why a true story need not be one that actually happened. Because in this medium, story is king. And in that context fiction can ring true, and maybe even tell us something about ourselves.