Monday, October 01, 2012


In any field, there are people that love to get buried in the details.

Ask an architect about the 'materiality' of a building, if you don't believe me. But be prepared to lose hours of your life that you will never get back.

In filmmaking, with so much technology around cameras, lighting, sound, editing, SFX, VFX, etc etc, there is an absolute plethora of 'techies' willing to speak about their given field of expertise.

Now, understanding certain elements of the technology is important. As a storyteller, you need to know what tools the technology gives you to actually tell your stories. 

You also need to know how to speak to the specialists who will help you achieve your vision. I believe it's called 'speaking techie'.

But keep in mind that technological knowledge can go too far.

Often, extreme levels of technical knowledge are simply a way to feel better about the fact that filmmaking is an ethereal business, where no-one really knows what will be a hit or not.

It's easier to memorise the technical specs of a new camera, rather than accept that, despite your best intentions and depthless technical knowledge, an audience might not connect with your work.

It is a powerful narcotic. A semblance of control in a frequently unpredictable industry.

The irony of course is that technical specs and cameras change quickly and frequently, but storytelling is timeless.

Keep in mind, however, that I am a writer and producer, not a camera person. I speak techie, but I am most certainly not a techie.

So, to all of you fellow non-techie people out there, I offer this advice. 

Respect the technical knowledge of your supporting experts, but don't be intimidated by it. Know your limitations and develop a process to mitigate them while harnessing the abilities of your experts.

For example, rather than memorising a camera spec sheet, you can do a camera test.

Just ask these experts in their annual 'Camera Wars' event.

They don't talk about camera specs. They talk about the final product as it appears on the screen. 

And these are camera people, so they would be even more tempted to obsess over camera technology details.

But they don't. 

So remember, the only thing that is really important when it comes to film technology is how the final product looks.  

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