A Filmmakers Responsibility

I am sure that 2020 will go down in history. The trials that humanity is facing right now are some of the most important we have seen in a very long time — problems like the Corona-Virus, the Black Lives Matter movement, Brexit, and the deadly wildfires we saw erupt in Australia, just to name a few. Although they may seem distant, or “other people’s problems” to some of us, at the core, they are humanity’s problems. As human beings, we all have a responsibility to see them through to the end. As filmmakers and storytellers, we have a responsibility to document these stories and ideas in ways that will do them justice. History has always been told through firsthand accounts of those who experienced it, whether their stories were written down, or passed down through generations. Now, filmmakers are able to tell these stories, document these problems, and provide first hand accounts, on a scale that has never been seen before. 

Today, filmmaking, and video production tell the stories people want to hear. 4.79 billion people worldwide have continued access to the internet and use it on a frequent basis. Furthermore, over 60% of the internet’s content is video. Video and film have a power like no other. The ability to capture events as they happen, and the fact that we can integrate all aspects of storytelling into one creative piece is astounding. We can illustrate stories better than any painter, we can convey written ideas better than any writer, and we can compose musical stories better than any composer. I am not saying that writing, composing, and painting are obsolete, but film has a special way of bringing them all together into one creation. We are able to convey stories to billions of people in a way few can. We can bring a book to life, a painting to reality, and a song into actuality. Now is the time to honor the power of film, because stories have a power like no other. 

Of course, I have many reasons for saying this, but recently, after watching Selma, I realized just how much power film has. Selma was an emotional masterpiece and it is a perfect example of the power of film. Released in 2014, it does a wonderful job portraying the hardships that Martin Luther King, his followers, and black people in general had to go through, not only during the civil rights movement, but also throughout most of history. What struck me the most however, was an extremely moving scene between M.L.K and Cager Lee, right after his son, Jimmie Lee Jackson, was horribly killed. The scene managed to be so emotional and moving, while still showing very little, at least until the end of the scene, of the dead Jimmie Lee Jackson. The movie manages to illustrate these hardships subtly, while also forcing the audience to face the horror and violence these people had to endure. In the end, you end up with a great balance that makes the connection between the audience, the film, and the characters even more powerful. 

The movie manages not to abuse its power, or to make sure that all the characters are perfect. Director Ava DuVernay does not attempt to portray M.L.K as a perfect figure. Instead she distinctly shows that even he can make mistakes, and that further elevates the message of the film. The film tells a factual story, and an emotional one at the same time. It does more than tell a true story. Of course, it sticks to the facts and it’s strong message, but it adds an emotional element that only a film can create. 

Now, more than ever, the world needs strong messages and powerful ideas. Filmmakers all around have a responsibility and a talent that not many others do. We have access to the world. We cannot just throw that away. So, do something you haven’t done before. Show the world your ideas. Improvise. Go “Off The Script.”

Sources:

“Key Internet Statistics to Know in 2020 (Including Mobile).” BroadbandSearch.net, www.broadbandsearch.net/blog/internet-statistics.

“Report: Where Does the Majority of Internet Traffic Come From?” NCTA, 17 Oct. 2019, http://www.ncta.com/whats-new/report-where-does-the-majority-of-internet-traffic-come#:~:text=The 2019 Global Internet Phenomena,more video is being consumed.

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