The Man Who Listens

I am about to partake in a huge study on Steven Spielberg. I am a filmmaker and one of my greatest teachers through the years has been Steven. Through the countless behind the scenes looks, online interviews, and TV specials, I have learned A LOT from this Master filmmaker.

My “huge study” consists of going over several of Steven’s films on “mute“, and studying how he composes shots, directs acting, creates emotion, and tells a story. For each of the movies I will write a small paper on what I have learned and post them on this Blog for whomever to see.

This particular post will be devoted to what I think of Steven Spielberg now and why I am choosing to do this long and draining study.

Steven Spielberg is a story-teller, and naturally that interests me. Through out the years I have seen movies directed by this man that include many genres. That in itself is very unique. We have been introduced to completely new world, with movies such as Hook, Artificial Intelligence, and Jurassic Park. Steven has thrilled us with movies such as Indiana Jones and Jaws. He has brought us movies full us clever entertainments with The Terminal and Catch me if you Can. And, he has reached deep into our emotions with movies such as E. T., Saving Private Ryan, and Schindler’s List. These movies have span through more then three decades have all been hailed as great and powerful pieces of work.

Indeed, it seems as though I have chosen my teacher well.

What makes this man able to tell stories in so many genres, so well? Why are people so effected by this man’s movies? What has made Steven Spielberg one of the greatest story-tellers to walk this earth?

A few months ago I watched a interview with Steven Spielberg on Inside the Actors Studio. Through out the 2 + hour interview, Steven was asked some very compelling questions. One of the last questions was along the lines of, “If there is a God, what do you want Him to say to you when you show up at the gates of Heaven?” Steven answered, “thanks for listening”.

Right there Steven told me the secret to his success. With that answer he told me the reason why he has been able to effect me so greatly.

Steven Spielberg listens. God gave Steven a great gift and told him to use it. Steven chose to listen. I believe that Steven has been able to make so many great movies through so many different genres and over so many years, because he has heard God speak about the heart of what makes a story great.

Steven’s movies accentuate Life.

Whether it is a boy on a bike flying across the moon, a once corrupt man learning to live again, or a uncommon liberator crying out for one more soul. All powerful examples of the Life that comes from Steven’s movies.

God is the essence of Life and he speaks to us all. Steven is a man who has chosen to listen. It is amazing the power that comes from a man who is able to listen. It takes patients and guts, but the results are worth it.

The world has truly changed through one man’s ability to listen. I have been truly effected by Steven Spielberg; he inspires me to make stories of my own. Steven was once quoted saying, “I dream for a living”. This quote rings true through out his life.

I only hope to follow in his footsteps and become another man who chooses to listen.

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A Lesson From Pixar

I think we as a society can find many lessons from the Animation Studio Pixar. Pixar is a studio I have looked into, with great detail, for the past few years. They are the most successful film studio of this decade. They have come out with ten movies, all of which have been hailed both critically and publicly as great successes.

Pixar has not failed. They have pushed the boundaries of film making and dared to do the unconventional, with nothing but success to show from it.

Many have asked the question, “What is the key to Pixar’s success”? The CEO’s and Producers of Hollywood have seen the vast amounts of money Pixar has brought in, through the popularity of their films, and they want a piece of the pie.

The secret however, is something that money can not buy. When Andrew Stanton, director of Pixar’s Finding Nemo and Wall-E, was asked about the secret of Pixar Studio’s success, the answer was simple, “What is best for the film?” That is the question that Andrew says, guides the studios every move. There is one core Visionary (the director) who has an idea on a film that he wants to create, and nothing will get in the way of making that vision come to be a reality.

Unlike typical Hollywood, it is not lust for profit that guides the Pixar Studio. Nor is it popularity, safe/conventional storytelling or power from the higher ups, that directs Pixar’s path. The Pixar Studio is guided by Vision.

Pixar is successful because they are not worried about money or what critics think. They are not in the business for the popularity or even the big buck. They all want to create something great, and are willing to put the time and effort into making this Vision come to pass.

Most of the film business can not have the success Pixar has, because they are too caught up in profit and safe reliable storylines. When you put money first you are not able to take risks, you do not open yourself up to what the actual film needs. To let Vision come first you need to be willing to let go of the control.

I have seen through the years, a lot of similarities between the Church and typical Hollywood. The audience is who both Hollywood and the Church rely on for money. When you are guided by money, you tend to want to take the safe rout. A Pastor usually tries to stick to a typical yet safe message just as Hollywood tries to come out with the safe love story that will attract a broad audience. There is also a need for control.The need to have control is a typical thing you see in both Hollywood and the Church as well. This is perfectly understandable, I mean if you need to worry about, salaries, rent, and keeping an audience, you want to have a certain amount of control and know that you will survive the jump.

The problem is that the Vision sometimes asks us to jump without looking. Vision sometimes requires us to have a blind faith, and be willing to sacrifice everything to accomplish the goal.

The Pixar studio has been told many times that movies like Toy Story, Ratatouille, and Wall-E would be their undoing. Pixar dared to create unique stories and go place never gone to before, and with that came the possibility that no one would follow. But they chose to jump anyway.

They jumped because they were following something that could not be calculated, something that required dedication, the willingness to work together and follow the best ideas no matter where the source came from.

Let us learn from Pixar. Let us truly follow Vision no matter the destination or what we will have to question. The only thing that will bring on revival and freedom is a dedication to Vision that surpasses our human need to be safe and goes for the calling that God has given us.

The Impossible

Some people just can not get a clue. They are told and told that it won’t work and it isn’t possible but they just won’t quite.

Gandhi is a fine example of someone who does not get it. He was told and told again that peace could not win wars. He was brutally beaten several times because he was not willing to put up his hands to fight. He was taken to jail numerous times because he would not stand down for what he believed. Gandhi literally starved himself so that his people might stop fighting. Millions told him that he was trying to do the “impossible”.

A young man from Kansas named Walt Disney was just as foolish. He came to Hollywood with the idea that people would be entertained by moving drawings, in fact he wagered all of his money on the belief that an audience would be willing to watch a full length cartoon. People called the Idea “The Disney Folly”. Nobody thought that people would be emotionally moved by simple drawings.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was another person who was said to be ignorant. He told the world that blacks could work as equals with whites. People told him that he asked for the impossible and that he was blinded by a dream. Martin payed the ultimate price for his “ignorance”. On April 4th 1968 he was murdered.

What made these people sacrifice so much for things that the world thought were so obviously impossible?

A glance at these people and one might see what they are doing to be IMPOSSIBLE. But if we are willing to look deeper into the lives of people like Gandhi, Martin Luther King or Walt Disney, we begin to see something most of the world is afraid to acknowledge. We begin to see Hope.

Hope is often shunned by the world because it requires us to become active and leave our comfort zone. It requires us to be willing to fail and push through our faults. Hope is a dangerous thing because like King we can end up paying the ultimate price.

But something like hope, can make the impossible, possible.

Naive, Clueless, and ignorant people like Gandhi, King, and Disney are the people who have inspired me the most. Today they are looked up to as some of the greatest people to ever live on this earth.

Walt Disney was told that moving drawings would not entertain a audience but he still chose to make the first full length animated movie Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. A movie that is now hailed as one of the greatest films of all time. Gandhi was able to lead millions to independence and drive out the English army by making his words and actions sharper than any sword or louder than any gun. Martin Luther King, Jr. was able to spark a generation into excepting equality instead of segregation and blood shed.

Hope and inspiration are dying words. Today more and more things are becoming impossible. Solving world hunger, purifying the world of sexual molestation, and stopping violence may be naive and ignorant dreams. Hundreds of millions of people would say that they are IMPOSSIBLE to resolve. And yet,… those who are willing to dream, do the impossible.

The time is now to define our dreams with actions more powerful then our definition of Impossible. What is possible has no limits when you are willing to hope and choose to act on the dream God has given you.

A Waist of Time?

A passion in my soul has arisen. Why do I do what I do? Many people should ask themselves this question. I mean I would say I do art because I feel that I am gifted at it. Or, I study film because it inspires me. But those two things are done very little by me if I really think about it. I mean, I spend most of my time complaining about hyper spiritual Christians and watching mindless television that does not effect me in the least.

I can say that I don’t waist as much time as most of my friends. Or, what I do when I waist time is much more productive then some people. But I really don’t know if this is true and it will not help me in any way.

Why do we make excuses for neglect and lack of vision?

It might have to do with us being born with a “sin nature”. We might just be born with a inherent, “I don’t give a dam”. But, “I don’t give a dam”, is no fun. I mean I have seen many people who do not really care about life but none of those people I have seen who just “don’t care”, seem very happy.

A harsh thing time is. I always seem to worry about time and if I am using it wisely. I have come to the conclusion that worrying about wasting time is a waist in itself.

So what do I do? I guess I need to just not waist time. It is not about constantly checking yourself and trying to measure if you are wasting time or not. It is about going for the things you choose and not stopping. I believe everyone can find a vision and I think that should be all of our goals.

There is so much that needs to be done and so many who are just right for the job of doing these things. Life is not a right, it is a gift. A gift that we have been aloud to use as we wish.

The Key of a Child

I really am not big on Bible verses in my blogs. I don’t think I have quoted even one verse directly yet. But this blog calls for a (direct) scripter quote. This scripture gives a fundamental point that we must get a hold of if we do indeed want to enter into God’s kingdom.

Mark 10: starting at verse 13 “PEOPLE WERE BRINGING LITTLE CHILDREN TO JESUS TO HAVE HIM TOUCH THEM, BUT THE DISCIPLES REBUKED THEM. 14 WHEN JESUS SAW THIS, HE WAS INDIGNAT. HE SAID TO THEM, “LET THE LITTLE CHILDREN COME TO ME, AND DO NOT HINDER THEM, FOR THE KINGDOM OF GOD BELONGS TO SUCH AS THESE. 15 I TELL YOU THE TRUTH, ANYONE WHO WILL NOT RECIEVE THE KINGDOM OF GOD LIKE A LITTLE CHILD WILL NOT ENTER IT.”

A child is often selfish wanting anything that she or he can get his or her hands on. Just from personal experience I know that my three year old sister asks for the world and then some. A child doesn’t seem to obey very well, either. Their favorite word, no doubt, is “no”. You need to watch them like a hawk so they don’t get into too much trouble. You need to pick up after them and clean them because they are so messy. Why then would Jesus tell us that we need to become like a little child to enter into the kingdom of Heaven? What qualities does a child have that I as an adult do not?

It is a really funny thing and you and I probably often wonder if Jesus was all there when He told us that we need to receive the Kingdom of Heaven like a little child if we wish to enter into it. But as frustrating it seems to be when it comes to a child’s ability to listen and obey I have found some things that only a child seems to posses now a days.

A child looks at the world with curiosity. As an adult I sometimes don’t have time for looking at new and unique stuff. I am too caught up in what I like to call “life”. But a child does not have a obligations to go to work, deal with family issues or need to talk to a friend at a curtain time. A child has time to examine a flower and even needs to be taught to stay away from a stranger because their natural instinct is to be friendly. A rubber ball or a lady bug are interesting things to a child. They have time to devote to things as simple as a pile of dirt. Yes, we can consider this a bad thing. “Billy! Get out of that dirt”, or “Sally, don’t bother that man”. But what if we as adults could get away from our common life and routine and spare some time for a stranger that might not have any friends? Or give time to things, that we have been taught don’t mean much?

A child is not afraid to show emotion. I realize that this can be frustrating at times. But what if we as adults were able to show others what we truly felt? There are many examples of my three year old sister telling me straight up to not call her a name she does not like. I never worry about her not telling me if she is hungry or wants to go to Mc. Donald’s. Too many times I see people that get made fun of, and instead of telling the person how they truly feel about what was said or done they act as though it is ok and laugh along with the crowd. So many grown ups hide there emotions so far inside themselves that they become lost and their self worth is extinguished.

As much as a child might seem to want everything so that they could be happy I do not see them as selfish beings. They aren’t just caring for themselves they grow attached to the people around them very quickly and begin to care for others. They are not worried if the person is rich or poor, strong or weak. They have not been taught who you should care about and who you should not. They see the people in need and truly feel for them without the lens that society tends to put onto us.

When I was sick with a fever above a hundred and was dizzy every time I stood up, it was my three year old sister who came to my side and asked me if I was ok and drew pictures for me so I could get better. There have been many times that I have been hurt and my sister was teary eyed because she couldn’t stand seeing me in such a condition. She was not interested in the mistakes I made that might have made me sick or the way I might have treated her badly a few days before. She cared about me getting better and was not afraid to show her love for me by the emotions she expressed and the pictures she drew.

Having a childlike approach is what counts when it comes to who enters into the Kingdom of God. Jesus does not need you to be a good student or athlete in school. He does not look at how skinny, fat, strong, or weak you are. Instead God wants you to strive for something more – to strive to become a child once again and see the world with the clear view that you were originally given and not look at it from the lens that society or even your friends have given you.

If you want to have a wonderful life, if you want to see the true value this world and the next has to give, if you want to be able to change the world you must see the world as a little child sees it–without judgment or condemnation, without the need for money or accolade.