Do you know how to use math to understand what things mean, to do what is required of us to succeed in our career? (This is the point at which I can tell you most film people will probably say, “I don’t know what I’m doing, and I didn’t earn my degree in math.”) Do you know how to use this new-found skill or ability to tell a story without feeling dumb for not knowing it, without feeling like a nerd for not knowing it?
I’m not sure how to help you with that yet, but I want to make it clear that this is an incredibly difficult question. This is the kind of question where we don’t really know how to make our answers clear. We all probably need to have our questions answered at some point, even if there isn’t a specific moment when we need to answer. It’s also an incredibly important question for filmmakers because our success will not be determined solely by us taking an exam, reading some notes and doing the rest. We will be judged and rewarded by our ability to tell an interesting story, to make a compelling and impactful movie, to take risks, and to be bold and original with our work.
The truth of the matter is, I’m not as good at the things that count most in any field of work. I have never done anything remotely like what makes me a filmmaker, to be honest. Maybe the only thing I’ve done that’s even really creative as of now is to put a bunch of pictures of my cats into a ziplock bag and put them into a plastic barrel. This is all that I will ever do.
I’m writing you off, and I’m writing them all off. I don’t care about the rest of them (but I have to admit that I do) — my whole life in this industry has been trying to figure out the ways in which one can be a good filmmaker. But I think I’m at least on a path to a better answer than some of them can give me now, for sure. It has to do with my personal journey towards understanding myself and what I have to offer in this life that I have created for myself as a filmmaker.
I’ve been very much on a downward trend in math and science literacy for some time now, not as much out of boredom as a lot of people blame me for this (most of the blame, at least until now, has been put on the parents, the educators, the culture, the media —
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