• James Stranahan

Why I Love Making Movies

I’m a pretty fortunate man, when it comes right down to it: I have found a job that I love to do, and I get to do it. I’m in love with the movies, and every workday, I get to either act in them or produce them. I also get to work with some pretty incredible people, all of whom are just as passionate as I am about bringing stories to life on the big screen. It’s safe to say that there really isn’t anything else I’d rather be doing with my life.

One reason I am so jazzed is because I believe just as much in the world I am helping to create as the audience does. I see this world in my mind long before it ever becomes a film, which is completely different from how audiences are introduced to it. Unless the audience watches the blooper reel, they never see the crew members who are holding the microphones or the cameras. All they see is the movie unfolding in front of them on the screen. The pacing has been cleaned up, the score has been added, and it’s magic. If I do my job correctly, people are easily able to suspend their disbelief and fully immerse themselves in the movie, as it should be.

You would think for the producer or anyone else who works on the film that it would be different for them. After all, we’re surrounded constantly by the reality that it’s, well, not reality. There are the costumes, and when the day is over, everyone changes back into their street clothes and goes home. The actor is, in the end, an actor, and they mess their lines up right at the most pivotal moment of the film. That wasn’t really rain coming down from the sky but instead a rain curtain set up to create the effect. We all know it’s not real, but in our minds, it very nearly is. The world in the movie already exists before we even begin making it.

I am not the Mozart of moviemakers, but I’m going to use a scene from Amadeus to explain what I mean. In that film, Mozart is sitting at a desk, composing a symphony. The symphony is playing loudly, and suddenly, it cuts off when Mozart is disturbed by a knock at the door. You realize that he was hearing the violins, violas, flutes, oboes, and other instruments at the same time, and he was putting them all down on paper. It was truly breathtaking.

So, again, I’m not Mozart, but the point remains the same: the world is already in my mind before I even begin putting the film together. It plays in my imagination as if it were already released in theaters; the movie production is to me what writing the score was to Mozart: putting what is in my mind down in a form that anyone else can enjoy.

As I start the pre-production of a film, I enter this world every day. I replay scenes, analyzing them endlessly to be sure that my cast and crew will have what they need to bring them alive. I collaborate with our location scout and director to choose environments that match what I’m seeing in my mind. Everything is designed to create in reality the drama, intrigue, and excitement that is already present in my imagination.

So, why do I love making movies so much? The answer is because they give me the ability to release into the popular consciousness what previously only existed in my own mind. At that point, I have to just cross my fingers and hope that people enjoy it just as much as I do.

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