The Movies in my Mind

Since their invention in the 1880’s, motion pictures have grown into a commanding industry in the world economy and staked a permanent claim in our homes. They entertain and inform. They preserve our history. They make us laugh, and they make us cry. They call us to action. They touch and change our hearts. The compel us to dream.

I love movies. I say that often—probably too much.

Could I live without movies? Yes—and no. I can survive without watching another movie at a theatre or on TV. They aren’t the end-all, be-all of my existence. There are hundreds of things more important than watching my favorite actors carry on and make-believe.

However, the thing I can’t live without is story telling. It’s integrated and so ingrained in our human experience that a lack of story telling would create a vacuum I could not endure. Perhaps I wax a bit dramatic. Maybe they’ll make a movie about it.

I am a writer, not because I just want to be, not because I like to write, but because I must. Like an addict, I have pens and notepads tucked away in every imaginable place, in the off chance I’ll be stuck somewhere and need to write. Ideas don’t always arrive at opportune moments. Muses don’t keep schedules. Writers must tell their stories.

Movies create a wonderful canvas for words to live, move, and breathe. They raise characters to life and fill in details that might never have received their due attention. Movies bring worldwide focus to stories that might otherwise remain family legend. In movies, writers can be storytellers to a national village.

Motion pictures represent all the elements of a story. They introduce a setting, sometimes in a single shot. A storyteller can see that same shot in an instant in his mind’s eye, but to explain it might exhaust a thousand words. The hero appears on the screen. He’s everything the storyteller wants him to be, without page after page of adjectives.

In short, movies are magic for writers. The thousands of words are all written. The tears and sweat and late night worries have all been strained through the word processor. And suddenly, the car chase streaks across the theatre in digital clarity and Dolby surround sound—just as it appeared in the writer’s imagination.

Every story I’ve written is already a movie. You haven’t seen them, because these particular movies exist only in my mind as of yet. I see my characters and their homes and families and problems as clearly as if Josh Duhamel or Emma Stone lived them. I suppose most writers experience the same thing; we’re all a little odd that way.

I’m grateful to the writers, directors, and producers who take that leap of faith required to bring a story to film. I appreciate their willingness to share with us. I dream to one day do the same.

That’s a wrap for this Toast to Cinema. Thanks for reading!

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