It has been an incredible couple of days here in California (L.A. and San Francisco) — meeting with film makers, Hollywood media people (one man who has interviewed practically everyone famous you can imagine), an incredible speaking and meeting people at Berkeley and Stanford, and then to top it off with a visit to see the inside of George Lucas’ special effects studio — Industrial Light and Magic.
During the visit to this studio, my good friend (who recently won some awards for his work here), showed me some of the original props and special effects workings from movies as old as the original Star Wars, E.T., and Ghost Busters, to as new as Harry Potter, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Transformers II.
Other interesting notes and random thoughts…
“Who tells the stories of a culture really governs human behavior. It used to be the parent, the school, the church, the community. Now it’s a handful of global conglomerates that have nothing to tell, but a great deal to sell.” – George Gerbner
Plato said that if he had to choose between controlling the arts or the government, he would chose the arts. He said the government made the rules and enforce people to follow them — but that people willingly internalize and follow the arts.
George Lucas and Steven Spielberg — normal guys that met in or just after college. They did one thing extraordinarily well — learned how to tell compelling stories. They say George Lucas when a kid was what others might consider a nerd – nose in a book, addicted to science fiction.
World is changing, with technology that exists the barrier of entry is lower in having the power to tell stories and capture attention.
Which makes the following questions that much more urgent and essential:
– What impact have these movies had on your life, and on your culture?
– What stories do we want to tell, which frame our view of the world, of each other, and ultimately frame the future?
– In what ways does the new media influence the way that we can tell and receive stories?
Wow, what an opportunity! How did you snag it?
A screenwriting coach named James Bonnet (author of the book “Stealing Fire from the Gods”) said the following about the impact of stories:
“Having lured us into the adventure by fantasies and a taste, the great story them provides us with a road map or treasure map, which outlines all of the actions and tasks we have to accomplish in order to complete [a meaningful life change], and a tool kit for solving all of the problems that have to be solved to accomplish the actions and tasks. Every great story will divulge a little more of this truth, and bit by bit each step of the passage is revealed. Again, all of this is going on without the story recipient’s conscious knowledge that it’s happening.” (p. 27)
I believe great stories teach us as much or more than what we learn from other forms of instruction. So the impact some of the movies you mention have had on me is that they have taught me what it means to be a human being, and what my obligations are because of that fact.
Great quote and thoughts Jason, thanks!
WoW, really wow, being in George Lucas’ special effects studio is really exciting.
Well I’m gonna talk about the impacts of the movies you mentioned above on the life of a generation, a generation after mine. The history and culture of my country is full of rich stories,literature and poems. Great people like: Saadi, Hafez, Ferdowsi, Mowlana(Rumi) and many others have had a significant impact on the life of we Iranians and even people of other cultures. However the current generation of young people are more familiar with characters like Harry Potter, Spiderman and … than Rostam or Sohrab of Ferdowsi’s Shahname. They wear t-shirts of those characters, stay in the long long queues to wait for the movies or books of these favorite characters like many other young people around the globe. Therefore they get closer to Hollywood-made stories while getting more away from their folklore ones. Yes, that’s the power of Hollywood stories. Although these stories are younger than folklore and old stories they get more acceptance and have a greater impact on today’s people lives. Ask a teen around you that if he/she likes Harry Potter or The Beauty and The Beast more.
The new media influences the way that we tell and receive stories in a more visual and modern way.
Access to the Letterman Center is only on Fridays and only to friends and family of employees. The campus just inside the the Lombard Gate in the Presidio is exquisite and a short walk to the Exploratorium. After the 20-minute film in a state-of-the-art theater of nothing but the special effects they’ve produced, your head is literally reeling. The whole experience is pretty darn incredible, very special.