Monday, April 18, 2011

Law 4: Hope is Constant

Making Monday

Cameras and close-ups have undermined the ancient thespian art of playing it big: gestures and the emotions they implied had to be big enough that the people at the top of the amphitheater could follow the story. In its place we get dramatization. The camera shows us how the stakes are bigger, the despair deeper, the hope more soaring, and the resolution sweeter.

The hope that is the expression of true making can't get the time of day in Hollywood because it's constant. Steady is the antithesis of drama.

This is not to say that makers plod through life, unperturbed by anything. No, quite the contrary, someone who cares enough to make is going to be perturbed far more often than someone who doesn't care enough to do anything more than go with the flow.

Rather, the hope that arises from the conviction that it's worth it burns steadily, neither flickering into despair nor flaring into irrationality.

You can see it in the steady work of the novelist who, day after day, scene after scene, patiently assembles a book. The work takes long enough that you've got to have something to sustain you when the fires of passion burn out mid-way through the manuscript. This is where techniques like small steps and milestones can protect you from the despair of a half-finished manuscript. Instead of worrying about all the chapters yet to be written, work steadily, a scene at a time.

Like still waters that run deep, hope--the constant hope of the makers--is something that is remarkably powerful over time.

Image: Bill Longshaw /