By Erica Richards
“Film is the only art form that allows us the close-up. And it substitutes for real life, two eyes looking into two eyes. I think we need to remember how powerful that is in a world that is consumed with different sized screens.” – Glenn Close
I have been fascinated with film and television since childhood. I distinctly remember the moment I knew I was deeply fascinated, not just in the surface level way a child is captivated by the hour of a television show you’re allowed to watch before you go to bed. I was with my family on vacation and my parents turned on the local evening news while we sat in the condo rental to have dinner. Then:
Me (maybe 8-10 years old?): wait–the people are different.
Parents: what? What are you talking about?
Me: the news people–they’re different here. These aren’t the same people on the TV at home. The people on the TV are different in different places?
Parents: endless laughter
Clearly, I was adorable and curious, but mainly I was fascinated with the idea of production and how it worked. This exact moment is what sparked it: I was wildly intrigued by there being people in every little town giving the news to other people in their little town. That fascination grew with scripted television shows and then, of course, film. I always wondered how shots were composed in films–how did they do that? But more importantly–why did they do it a certain way? Unlike most people, I knew since middle school that I wanted to work “in the biz” and I would study video production. Other than a short stint of learning and falling in love with American Sign Language (ASL) making a living in production was always my goal.
“The term “cinephile” sounds pretentious, right? Identifying as a cinephile means you are an individual who is fascinated and has a passionate interest in cinema. To me, that means you also have an appreciation for cinema.”
Once I arrived at college, I fell in love with my production courses. The opportunity to shoot and edit my own footage, conduct the interviews that would tell the stories; finally! Finally I was fulfilling the curiosity of that little girl who wanted to understand why news broadcasters were different in every town. Storytelling became an obsession. I still geek out over documentaries. Then–I had to declare a minor for my degree. A friend was majoring in English and her focus was in Film. Wait–I can watch films, read and discuss and write about them in COLLEGE? Sign me the heck up! I committed to the cinephile life and have never looked back.
The term “cinephile” sounds pretentious, right? Identifying as a cinephile means you are an individual who is fascinated and has a passionate interest in cinema. To me, that means you also have an appreciation for cinema. It’s funny sometimes that people find that cinephiles, and film critics especially, love film so much that they hate it. But that is what we do: criticize, analyze, challenge, obsess, discuss, and adore film and it’s creators. Sometimes I question if I am a terrible critic, because I truly attempt to appreciate each and every film I watch. I compare it to people: people have their flaws and I still try to find the best in everyone I meet. As someone who understands, even at a minimal level, what it takes to make a production happen, I have to appreciate the art that comes from it.
Challenge yourself and your friends that ask you for movie recommendations to step out of their comfort zones. Yes, a safe, predictable rom-com is needed for a night of decompressing after a long week. Escapism is why those films exist. But that indie film or documentary that you heard about from some guy at the water cooler might actually make you feel something could change you in a way you never expected if you just give it a chance, just like I gave that local news station broadcasters my attention that night on vacation.