Behind The Curtain

I’ve always enjoyed looking behind the scenes. And I do mean always; I remember as a younger kid loving seeing how movies are made or devouring those books that explain how, like, paper is made and television works. It all seems just so cool.

I knew someone once who said she grew to not like the behind the scenes stuff of movies because for her the artifice and seams started to show and she couldn’t just enjoy it for what it was. And I get that: there is a mechanical aspect to the craft of it that filmmakers (and really, any storyteller) uses to make the viewer feel certain things. It can be a particular cut, it can be a musical cue, it can be the lighting. When you know how it works, the magic disappears and you see the gears behind the magic show.

Of course, that relies on the magic being lost. I find that knowing how something works, knowing why something works, and then feeling it work is a magic unto itself. There is an artistry and intentionality behind the craft, to take the camera and footage and make it into something, just as writing is more than arranging words on a page, just as painting is more than just throwing pigments on a canvas.

Perhaps why I enjoy looking behind the curtain is it helps me learn to appreciate things. If you give me a painting or a cake, I can like it, but I don’t really know what goes into making one, let alone making one well. Being taught to bake or learning about Rembrandt’s use of light lets me know how to appreciate the craft and skill that went into creating something. I liked reading comics, but reading Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics deepened my appreciation of the art form (it helped that I read it while reading Hawkeye by Fraction, Aja, Wu, Hollingsworth, et al. at the same time). I like liking stuff, and I like learning to like stuff with reason.

Maybe that’s the part of me that likes figuring out why things tick, maybe that’s part of the DNA of this blog, maybe I’m a self-important git that likes to sound intelligent. Either way, it’s part of how I enjoy things in life.

Except for when I don’t; sometimes it’s okay to just enjoy stuff.

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