Impressions and Lessons
“The old medicine man smiles through the face of nature. The old medicine man captures the face of nature within the eyes of his camera.”
Part of my compulsion to move to Austin had to do with a compulsion to understand and learn a new artistic medium of storytelling, film. Something that I never thought was part of my path, a strange and terrifying new direction that seemed to come from that place within the universe that pushes our actions toward our destiny. It cannot be denied, but takes some time to understand. This is not one of my spur of the moment new directions, I am taking my time and learning before acting upon the compulsion.
I have always been a movie lover, a devotee of fantasy and story. But film was at the periphery of my experience. A thing to be watched, observed, not to be made by my own hands. But there is this little voice in the wind whispering for me to tell my stories within a more visual format.
Before arriving in Texas, I became a member of the Austin Film Society. Mostly because I thought it was an opportunity to explore what this compulsion means in my world. I have no real definitions for what I’m drawn to do within this concept so foreign to me. I’ll admit, I am quite intimidated by this world.
I am finding myself surrounded by those who have been called to make films at an early age. They have been doing it for years, decades. Some of them are well known in the film industry. The feeling of intimidation is only heightened in the presence of such successful filmmakers. When they ask what I do, why I am there, how do I answer with anything definitive. I don’t even know what role I will play in this new world. And here I am face to face with directors of movies I’ve loved for years, being treated as one of the cool kids.
A Weekend with Filmmaker James Benning
I spent an entire weekend engulfed by the films of James Benning, a filmmaker that I have only recently become aware. I found myself enchanted by his simplicity, yet complex storytelling. In essence he removed some of the intimidation from my perspective of the film world. I had been approaching things from the standpoint of being an outsider peeking into someone else’s window like a secretive Peeping Tom. Inspiration struck while watching the last movie in the series, Stemple Pass. It’s not about being insider or an outsider of the film world. It’s about finding a voice in which to channel my own stories.
I see a lot of my own spiritual concepts reflected in the films of Mr. Benning. The love of nature, the silence of the mind, the communion with all while being in the moment then letting it go as the past. I felt a strong kinship with the man and his work.
The short time I’ve spent just observing films and observing conversations between Richard Linklater and others with the Austin Film Society has given me insight on the definitions I have been trying to formulate. I am learning the art of storytelling from all angles. I may never pick up a camera. I may pick one up tomorrow. Either way, I am finding that the compulsion to learn film from people who have been making films for decades is leading me to develop my own way. And there is no wrong way to do it. There is no need to feel intimidated by the experienced film people. Or even the idealistic youth of the film world that seem to be demanding my reason for being there with them.
Finding the drive to be something different than you have been for most of your adult life is a scary thing. I have basically hit the reset button on my life and am starting over like an 18 year old just leaving home for the first time. (Not that I ever want to be 18 again.) Doing what I’ve always wanted to do is extremely satisfying. For the first time in life that feeling of being perfectly inline with my purpose is all encompassing. I may only write things that end up on film. I may learn to do it all from concept to editing to shooting myself out of a cannon to promote my ideas. The future is unwritten, and mine to mold. But at least I will be entering the future with a new network of supportive film nerds that will understand all of my incessant movie quotes.
Pictures are Poetry
This film series has inspired me to write a series of stories and poetry based on the notes I jotted down while watching. These notes are like a journey into my personal meditations.
Possibly at the end of the series I will post snippets of the actual notes taken. They are surreal. But I will start with this one because it’s weird and funny, “Rick Linklater is wearing ugly socks, just like he is taunting me with memories of my [deceased] brother. The whole time I can hear Bryan laughing at me for trying to hold in my fart by concentrating on ugly socks.”
Here is the first poetic interpretation of one of James Benning’s films. I thought it fit with the National Poetry Month theme.
By Amy Moloney
It has been too long since you’ve reflected upon our world
The ripples upon your brow reveal the worry you carry deep below your surface
Steadfast you nurture and move us to where life begins
And ends and begins again
The world is the distortion, the static, the chaotic mind
Silence is the picture, the image, the solitude of mind
Grandmother, the mother, consort to the sky
Wearing her gown of white
As she opens her earth to let the winged gohead inside
Explosion before the impact of hard into soft
Where the Earth becomes the sky
And the sky becomes the reflection of night
This moment of perfect union
Already a memory of what was then
This moment an illusion
Never to be visited again