I find normalcy boring. Why would I want to relive everyday moments in a source of entertainment? I prefer the fantastical, the adventurous and the theatrical moments. I love Disney films, superheroes, and princesses. But as a kid, watching films was not enough for me — I wanted to live in them.
I started acting classes in fifth grade to pursue this life of adventure and fantasy. It never felt like I was pretending; I was the character. I would memorize their lines, get out of my head and just become them. It was an escape from my reality and it felt so freeing to deal with someone else’s problems for a whole rehearsal or performance.
In high school, I switched to the backstage side of it all. I was still escaping my reality, but I was doing so by solving the problems in performances instead. It afforded me more control over the final product than being an actor did. I wanted the audience to feel what I had felt. I wanted them to be able to escape into a story, to feel transported. I wanted to combine the worlds of film and theatre — to bridge the gap between the technological feats and fantasy of films like Avatar, Inception, and Howl’s Moving Castle, and the social commentary and atmosphere of theatre.
My issue was that I never saw what film could be. Last year, I took a class called Introduction to Film Aesthetics and Analysis. It’s an infamous course at IC that all film majors have to take. Most loathe it, but I didn’t. I loved looking past the story and examining how the montage in Battleship Potemkin highlighted the discourse between the citizens and the police, how the mise-en-scène of Street of Crocodiles symbolically represented the social critique, or how the “gaze” in Vertigo is more present than one would originally believe. I learned that film was so much more than a fantastical refuge; it was also a vessel for societal commentary and educational possibilities.
I had always viewed film as fitting the mold of the Hollywood blockbusters that fill the multiplexes. That grand sense of spectacle is part of cinema culture, but the medium is not so limited. Film can teach us about different cultures and worldviews. It can spread a lesser-know philosophy and potentially change the minds of the audience on a controversial issue (or at least make them think harder about it).
When I entered college, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to pursue film. I didn’t know if there was a place for me. Now I know that if there isn’t currently a niche that suits me, I can carve my own path as many people, especially women, have done before me. I can create fantasy worlds and talk about social constructs and issues. I can provide an escape and an education.