Cinematography isn’t only about light, composition, color, movement and post-production magic. It also involves a variety of internal processes that are emotional, abstract and difficult to define. Today, I’m venturing into that realm. Let’s see what bubbles up.
Timothy Leary (October 22, 1920 – May 31, 1996) was an American psychologist and one-time Harvard professor who is best remembered for his advocacy of psychedelic drugs, most notably LSD during the 1960’s. Among many outlandish pronouncements made during his public life, the most lasting one has been, “Turn on, tune in, drop out.” While President Richard Nixon once referred to him as “the most dangerous man in America,” to my grade school eyes he appeared to be something of a kook, a little scary perhaps, but not a serious threat. I haven’t thought of him much since then and when I have, my assessment remained the same.
Nonetheless, Leary did have moments of lucidity. Consider the following statement and the unusual yet thoroughly valid ways in which it might apply to a cinematographer’s mindset.
“Admit it. You aren’t like them. You’re not even close. You may occasionally dress yourself up as one of them, watch the same mindless television shows as they do, maybe even eat the same fast food sometimes. But it seems that the more you try to fit in, the more you feel like an outsider, watching the normal people as they go about their automatic existences. For every time you say club passwords like “Have a nice day” and “Weather’s awful today, eh,” you yearn inside to say forbidden things like “Tell me something that makes you cry” or “What do you think deja vu is for?” Face it, you even want to talk to that girl in the elevator. But what if that girl in the elevator (and the balding man who walks past your cubicle at work) are thinking the same thing? Who knows what you might learn from taking a chance on conversation with a stranger. Everyone carries a piece of the puzzle. Nobody comes into your life by mere coincidence. Trust your instincts. Do the unexpected. Find the others.”
I’ll leave it to you for interpretation…but there’s no doubt more to what Leary said than at first meets the eye!