Sunday, September 20, 2009

Making Chartarum

“Row, row, row your boat
Gently down the stream,
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,
Life is but a dream.”
Verse from a famous childhood song

I’ve always wanted to be an actor. I was able to pursue that dream for a while when I was younger, when I was in high school and had no real financial worries. I sort of had to give up on that dream when I became an adult and the realities of life slapped me in the face. Acting simply wasn’t in the cards and I needed to get a real job in order to raise a family. In fact, I had to get several real jobs just to make ends meet. I guess that’s just the way things are. You do what you got to do and sometimes dreams must be sacrificed in order to survive.

I had really never been very good at fixing things, but found that with the right training I was able to learn how. When I got started down this path, I discovered that I really had quite a proclivity for repairing things, particularly electronics and electromechanical devices. When it comes down to it, most things in life are not all that complicated. It only takes a little know how and some common sense to figure out how most things work, and sometimes just a bit of instruction to get one started. In the beginning, I really surprised myself how easy it was to learn to fix things that seemed so complicated at first glance.

So I became very good at fixing electronic equipment. I became specialized and developed exceptional skills in repairing certain electromechanical devices. After many years, I became so skilled as to find the day to day work boring. I could fix the units I worked on in my sleep. On the rare occasion that I did run across a problem I was unfamiliar with and needed to troubleshoot, I began to look at this more as a chore than a challenge. How dare a unit have a problem that was difficult for me, the great fixer of things, to diagnose and repair? I became comfortable in my routine and wore a rut in my life deeper than the Grand Canyon.

I was forced to climb out of that rut in January of this year when I was laid off from a job I’d thought I would never lose. I was, after all, the best at what I did. It was and is a long climb up when emerging from a rut. Yet it seems with life that as one door closes another opens. It seems that if you look for opportunities sometimes you will find them when and where you least expect them. I figured I’d take the time granted me by the loss of my job to hone my writing skills and try to find a job copy editing or some such thing. As luck would have it, however, an opportunity I never expected came out of the blue, one that I likely wouldn’t have been able to take advantage of if I had still been walking the rut that was my life. I was given the opportunity to participate in the making of a movie.

My participation in this venture was on a completely voluntary basis. Even though I knew I would not be paid, I jumped at the chance to help with this movie. I was excited to get the experience and thrilled that I’d be able to add it to my resume. That was all that mattered to me.

The title of the movie is “Chartarum” and you will be able to see me in it when it comes out later this year. It is a horror movie about a parasitic mold that enhances some of the more aggressive characteristics of the humans it infects. In addition to being an extra, I helped a little with some technical aspects to the film. It was a real learning experience that I quite enjoyed. I very much hope I am able to do something similar again soon, perhaps as a living. I would love to be more involved in media production of this type. This would not only be the type of work I enjoy, it is the type of work I believe would take advantage of my greatest natural talents.

I was able to discover a few things in the week I helped out on this production. Helping to make a movie is like helping to make someone’s dream a reality. It’s a shared dream in which all participants contribute. Although it may have a message embedded in it, its main purpose is to entertain. Creating it takes a lot of time, thought and effort, and it doesn’t always turn out the way one might have imagined. The important thing is that the finished product is something people will pay to see and will want to become fans of.

As with many endeavors in life, it takes many different types of people to make a movie. It can be quite interesting to observe how these personalities interact. Most of the time things run smoothly with everyone doing their best and working hard at their assigned tasks to create the best product possible, but sometimes there is a clash. There are the inevitable disagreements and sometimes one’s emotions may get the best of one’s self and cause behavior one may later regret.

It is important, in my opinion, to remember that humans are not perfect. We are beings that are endowed with a great many faults and frailties as well as a great deal of intelligence, reasoning power and potential. It is for this reason that forgiveness is also important. If we let our emotions get the best of us and remain angry at each other, it becomes very difficult to achieve anything positive. When working together to try to create a product, it helps when those in charge listen to and respect the ideas of those who are working on it.

When such events and conflicts occur it may become necessary to take into account the motives and sincerity of those involved. If one is truly sorry, sees the errors of his ways and admits he was wrong then it is easier to forgive him, resolve the situation and for everyone to carry on with their jobs and bring the project to fruition. If, however, those in charge are so arrogant as to never admit they are wrong and continue to insist on doing things their way regardless of the feelings of others, or if they degrade and chastise those who are working hard and trying to do their best, then disaster will likely result and the finished product will likely not be as good as it could have been. Fortunately, all those working on this production were reasonable people and were able to resolve conflict in a productive manner.

With what little experience I’ve had in movie making, it seems to me that it is just a little microcosm of life, as are many other things. The purpose is to create or help create something that others will enjoy, perhaps something that will last and that future generations can also enjoy. When we all strive to better ourselves and in the process make for a better product, great things can happen. I hope you will all see the movie “Chartarum” when it comes out.

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