Colony Bay TV

The Layered Reality of Film & Video

May 5, 2011 James Riley
When you see a great film, you are watching an undeniably “layered” composition. Unlike a novel or a short story, where the final product is simply the result of a solitary individual and his relationship with the language, a film is
a product of fraternity– screen writers, photographers, art directors, actors, editors and even the groundskeeper who forgets to turn off a distant sprinkler in the emotionally climactic moment. Each contribution, each layer, can only be as good as the layer it’s built on. A great actor can only do so much with a bad script. A terrible director can destroy a beautiful story. Bad lighting can send the audience running.
Filmmaking as covenantIt all has to be great. You can have some layers that are merely competent, and sometimes good music can make up for awkward moments, but everyone has to do their part.

I guess that’s why even established filmmakers, and big studios, can’t really count on their record, or their capital, to guarantee the success of a film. Each round of production has too many variables to calculate and contain.

The oddest truth, in having attempted it on a small small scale two or three times, is that it’s something of a “covenant” venture, much more so than most modern church fellowships. The studiously secular mind of most contemporary actors may be scandalized by the comparison, but I’ll pay them a compliment: A good film company does church better than church — at least on the mutual support and shared burdens front. (I’m not talking about orthodoxy.) It’s one thing to praise a fellowship that takes place for two hours on Sunday and it’s another thing to see people still smiling and encouraging each other after twelve hours days, six days a week.

That’s an odd confession for someone who doesn’t respect most of Hollywood’s final product, but it’s true.

If you want your church to really “be a church” — make a film.

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