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If a Tree Falls in the Forest

At some point or another, gentle reader, we have all been asked the age old question. "If a tree falls in the forest, and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound"? It is supposed to be a thought provoking question. It's purpose is to make us think about the way we view the world around us, and give that world view a closer look. Now, being the son of a science teacher, I always thought the answer to that particular question was a fairly obvious "yes". Sound is produced by vibrations moving through the air. Those vibrations are then sensed by the inner workings of the ear and are in turn, processed by the brain which then categorizes and interprets them. The fact that no one is close enough to the falling tree to sense the vibrations it's falling creates on their eardrum, does not mean that the vibrations weren't present. So, yes it makes a sound. The true question is not whether or not the tree makes a sound, but rather, what purpose does the sound it makes serve? The most obvious answer to this question is one of simple survival. If one is walking through the forest and the distinctive cracking sound of a tree trunk breaking under the weight of an unbalanced tree can be heard, perhaps one should take a quick look around to insure that said falling tree is not falling in their direction. The sound it makes serves as notice to those close enough to hear, that they may want to get ah steppin' before tragedy overtakes them. Not close enough to hear the sound? No problem. Walk on gentle reader, you're going to be just fine. So while this hypothetical tree, in this speculative forest, does make a notional sound, if no one is there to hear it, the sound does not serve any actual purpose.

When thinking about the art of filmmaking, and what it takes to become a real live, honest to goodness filmmaker, I think that a similar principal applies. Often times the budding filmmaker becomes so focused on their project, they forget the purpose of their project. The purpose being, to get seen. Presumably, that would be the purpose of most art forms. While I am sure there are those who paint, write, and play music for the pleasure that the actual experience affords them, I would think the majority of artists want their work to been seen, read, and listened to by others who are not themselves, or their moms. I would think this to be especially true when it comes to making films. The only real purpose for capturing a story in some sort of visual medium, is so other people can watch it. This is a fact that can escape the young maker of films. I think it is an easy thing to forget when faced with the prospect of undertaking a film, of any size. There are so many things to do, and think about just to get the film finished, that the thought of what will happen once the film is finished becomes an afterthought. As you know, gentle reader, I have stated before (and still hold it to be true) that a finished film is the most important aspect to becoming a real live, honest to goodness filmmaker. That must be priority one. There is no sound in the forest if there are no trees to fall in the first place. Also there is no forest. That being said, under most circumstances, the purpose of making a film is to show it to others. If a film is projected on a screen and there is no one there to see it, did it still get made? Yes. But what purpose does it serve? On this level of filmmaking, it does serve as practice, experience, and the development of perseverance, but ultimately a film is made to be seen. The upstart filmmaker would do well to remember that fact from day one. It should be as present a thought as the script, locations, and actors. To use another popular saying, one does not want to place the cart in front of the horse. Likewise, one does not want to be dragged behind the horse because no one took the time think about needing a cart either. Now, should that horse begin to drag one through the forest, well, one would also be advised to keep an ear out for falling trees.


  1. Nice work with the analogy. Watching for the next one. Listening, actually...

  2. Thanks. I can't think of anything else clever to say, so I'll just leave it at "Thanks". My most sincere thanks.

  3. When you're done with your current project, I've got a superhero story that could be a movie.


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