Last night I watched the Oscars. To be honest, I usually don’t. Even though as a videographer I love the art of filmmaking, and as an actor and singer I have enormous respect for all of the stars, I’ve just never been able to get into all the drama and politics and pop culture that is the Oscars. But last night I watched almost the whole show. Unlike all the women in my wife’s family, who get together every year for their “Oscars Party” and make the most unbelievable deserts and treats, I have virtually no interest in what people are wearing on the red carpet. But what I did love about the Oscars last night, and what I think almost everyone loves about it, is the way they bring ordinary people like me and you right into the magic of storytelling.
Through the first hand stories of directors, screenplay writers, editors and actors, and from the behind the scenes explanations of visual effects and costume design, the Oscars gives us a sneak peak behind the curtains. At the same time that it destroys the illusion of a film being “real”, it also draws you even deeper into how magical the process of its creation really is. It’s an interesting dichotomy in a way. Why is it, that the more I watch the Lord of the Rings “behind the scenes” features, the more “real” Tolkien’s world seems to feel, even though the point of the special features is to reveal more and more of the trickery that was designed to make the film seem real in the first place? I think the simple explanation is that human beings are hard wired for consuming good stories.
My two daughters each get to choose one book for story time before bed every night. They have a few favourites that get picked a lot, and sometimes it surprises me that they still giggle at all the same parts, and still always have that wide eyed look of wonder through the whole story. But I guess it’s the same for them – even at 2 and 3 years old – they are wired for good stories. But as much as the girls love to lay in bed and listen to me or Kelly read stories to them, they are now getting more and more into creating their own stories. Their imaginations are unbelievable. It’s seldom a day goes by without a royal wedding in our living room, or a fashion show, a or a battle with giants, witches or dragons. At Aubrey’s age her creativity and sense of possibility is basically infinite, and she hasn’t yet learned to throttle it down and put a lid on it, like all of us adults tend to do.
So when Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez took the stage to accept the Oscar for Best Original Song (for Aubrey and Elise’s absolute favourite song ever – “Let It Go”), I thought their acceptance speech was touching and profound. They dedicated the well deserved award to their daughters, saying “This song is inspired by our love for you and the hope you never let fear or shame keep you from celebrating the unique people that you are.”
Later on during the Oscars I was hit by another emotionally powerful message, during the commercials. It was an ad for the iPad Air, and I won’t dive into all the things I loved about how the video was produced, but the ad’s message was essentially saying that life is a story, we are wired for creativity, and it’s up to us to contribute something, to bring our own stories to life, summed up by the line “that the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse”.
The Oscars, and the art of filmmaking and video production for that matter, are about “bringing stories to life”. At least that’s what they’re supposed to be about. For me, my passion for video production is an incredible opportunity to express myself and create stories that matter. Ultimately, my intention is to use it to have an impact on the world. We all have that innate desire to do work that matters, and to make a difference. So what is it that often holds us back from bringing to life the stories that matter to us? I think it’s exactly what the Lopez couple pointed to. Fear and shame. If we can get in touch with our inner 3 year old – or maybe all we have to do is buy an iPad Air – I know that it’s possible to truly let go of that shame and fear, and to contribute a meaningful verse to the powerful play that is life.
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