Tuesday, November 22, 2011

FREE E-BOOK: Top 10 Reasons Why It's a Great Time to be a Filmmaker Vol 1

My publisher for The Moral Premise, Michael Wiese, came up with a promotion idea for a free e-book. It came out today: Top 10 Reasons Why It's a Great Time to be a Filmmaker Vol 1.

Sure, it's a great promotion for his filmmaking books, but it's more than that. A lot more. Fifty of his authors, including myself, responded. We wrote fifty short chapters that promise to inspired storytellers and filmmakers for years to come.

You can get it for FREE by going to Michael Wiese Productions.com. On the front page you'll see the promotion. All you have to do is give them your email address or confirm it, or buy a product from their website, and you'll get an email to download the e-pub free of charge.

My contribution, THE INSPIRING PROVIDENCE OF FILMMAKING, you'll find near the front on page 11.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Dr. Henry Russell On the Role of Cinema in The Great Conversation

An Interview with Henry Russell, Ph.D.
by Stanley D. Williams, Ph.D.

Henry Russell
Henry Russell, Ph.D. is a classics educator, headmaster of St. Augustine’s Homeschool Enrichment Program (founded with his wife Crystal), and president of the SS Peter and Paul Educational Foundation. He is known particularly for The Catholic Shakespeare Audio Series. His writings have been published in various journals.


STAN WILLIAMS: What do you make of this idea that narrative cinema can participate in The Great Conversation.

HENRY RUSSELL: Well, film is primarily a visual and auditory medium. It can’t easily handle the complexity of philosophical ideas that words allow. So, film demands that the director and producers spend enough time with the ideas to understand them, and then pick which ideas to make the movie around. Filmmakers have to know which 10% of a book to make into a movie. The selection process probably needs to be more collaborative. Because what will happen is that one person, who knows the ideas really well, selects the book’s topic, and the director in exasperation says, “Good, God! How am I going to visualize that?” Consequently, directors default to the ideas that are easiest to visualize. And, as a result society experiences this discontinuity between a good book and an important film.

STAN WILLIAMS: Is there an example in modern cinema?
HENRY RUSSELL: Sure. Peter Jackson in THE LORD OF THE RINGS (TLOTR) had generally no idea what major ideas Tolkien was getting at, such as the patient certainty of Aragorn and his complete confidence in his destiny. The film’s portrayal of Aragorn is one of a man with an identity crisis. Another thing Jackson misses is the power of words. When said relatively slowly and cumulatively, words can change the human heart, and define eventually what is true.  Literature, unlike philosophy and theology, functions by the accumulation of words. Like chipping away at a stone, a little bit at a time. But a film functions by large scale visual declarations. In the TLOTR books the telling of tales to each other is a big deal. But that doesn’t communicate easily to film. When characters talk all the time you lose the line of action that drives the film.

STAN WILLIAMS: Because you’re telling not showing.

HENRY RUSSELL: Yes, but it’s the telling that is how people function.