Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Walk of Fame/Walk of Shame

Ah the good ole days... Think back for a moment to the great Golden Era of cinema.  The Hollywood heavyweights who ruled the silver screen were considered to be nothing short of American royalty.  Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn, Jimmy Stewart, Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn were amongst the legendary greats of the old Hollywoodland.

Though I can't be sure, I imagine that back then, when youngsters set their sights on the star-studded path that led to Sunset Boulevard, the general perception was that the Entertainment Industry was in fact an industry.  It's difficult to sum up how the general population must have perceived Showbiz at that time. I often wonder if parents were generally supportive of their little budding stars, or if they were actually mortified by the very thought of their first-born sons hitching a ride down the yellow brick road.

When a young Alfred Hitchcock set his sights on this road less traveled,  was he also faced with a certain measure of skepticism?  You want to go make movies? Wait... Horror films?? Sigh... 

I guess it's safe to say that times have changed and along with it, the industry.  The rise of the internet, as well as sophisticated, tech savvy high-school kids, have paved a new road to Hollyweird.  And the number of ways to "make it" appear more multi-faceted than ever before.

Various incentives for filmmakers have sprung up nationwide. The competition to lure Hollywood away from its cozy kingdom of L.A. la  land is a constant and ever changing pursuit. Bring your business to other states and even, other countries, where the production costs are less than in the darling Golden State.

And yet Hollywood, however weird, reigns supreme.

All of these thoughts were running through my mind as I sat outside the front door of this truly wonderful "mom and pop" style book store.  This town is home to many true Independents.  The locals, who are active in the community, support these privately owned businesses as well as their operators: they buy, sell, and produce local.

So is it any wonder that this enchanted little gem of a town is now home to the Traverse City Film Festival? Independents and veterans alike swarm to this community every summer for this prestigious event.  Great films and fantastic entertainment have arrived. Top notch support from patrons, volunteers and city government officials.

I pulled my nose out of my book for a moment to catch a glimpse of the flickering lights of the Old State Theater just two doors down.  And then, without a hitch,  as if I was in a Hitch film myself, two elderly women sat down side by side behind me.  They were almost perfectly matched.  Both, nearly identical.  Short silver haired bobs and matching nautical striped blouses, made up what could have easily been mistaken for jail bird attire from way back when. And I couldn't help but overhear...

"Well, my grandson is in college and wants to get into filmmaking," she sighed.

And as if she were looking at her own reflection, her companion chimed in without missing a beat, "Oh dear... What is he actually going to do for a living? He's in his third year of school. He better get a more realistic plan."

I have to be honest that the entire experience was a little depressing. Here we are, in now what is one of the most prominent communities for promoting and supporting the entertainment industry and yet the perception of that career path is still chalked up as more of a walk of shame than a walk of fame.

The path leading to Monet's pond, where he painted the famed Water Lilies, may have been a lonely one.  And I'm sure that a great treasury of artists have sojourned onward to the lands just under the rainbow. What a bleak picture the great Museums around the world would look like if these soldiers of expression had not marched on.

How sad indeed the world would appear if the glistening lights of the silver screen went out.  I can't even imagine such a place.

I can appreciate the point of view that we need to be practical.  I understand that to pursue film, or any other creative venture for that matter, seems quite unrealistic. The roll of the eyes is merely a scratch at the surface of the opposition and doubt an artist will encounter throughout the course of their journey.

I would encourage our respective elders to try and promote the young artists in our communities.  And I would also encourage these young artists (myself included) to be prepared, resourceful and armed with a number of practical skill sets that span beyond the creative path.

We may not be in Kansas anymore, but can you imagine if we never saw Oz?  If we are to be great, and paint our own masterpieces, we must face criticism, skepticism and practicality with heads held high.  The glow of a thousand great Stars illuminate the path, if you just keep believing.


A Black Dahlia

1 1/2 oz Vodka
1 oz Creme de Cassis
Splash of Lemonade
Shake and strain 
Serve up in a martini glass
Sugar Rim

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