Guest Blogger, Rachel Seidman-Lockamy: “What Movies Mean To Me”

The team at TomCruise.com asked the community on the Twitter and Facebook pages to submit guest blogs about what movies meant to them. Today, we’re happy to share a blog written by community member Rachel Seidman-Lockamy, a blogger and aspiring actress who can be found on Twitter (@RachelSL). Read below for her eloquent take on what the world of cinema means to her:

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guest blogger rachel seidman lockamy“What Movies Mean to Me”

My fascination with the creative medium known as film germinated in my youth, incubating over the years as enjoyment turned to passion. Rather than simply appreciating the images on the screen, I marveled at the creative process behind the development of a movie. True, the camera and the actors are requisite for most cinematic endeavors, but beyond that there are hands and feet working through exhaustion, armed with unmatched dedication to creating something worthy of an audience’s undivided attention; to create something that might endure the ages. That is the heart of my adoration for movies; they are experiences.

Akin to roller-coasters, sky-diving and bungee-jumping, the scope of a movie’s affect on an individual transcends the moments spent physically engaged in the activity. The truly touching, inspiring, frightening, enlightening and logic-defying effects of a movie-going experience bleed into every day life in the form of quotes, lively discussions and animated debate. The emotional highs and lows of the craft do not rest within the walls of a movie theater. As you exit that darkened room you carry the film with you, regardless of your impressions.

That is part of the power of cinema. To me, the truly engaging movies are the ones that trick you into believing you’re not in a theater at all, but instead are dreaming an entirely new world filled with characters hatched from your own imagination. The movie transports you to the point that you forget your surroundings and the narrative and characters consume your reality. Whether obsessing over the romantic leads’ futures or commencing in celebratory fist-pumping over a truly tremendous bomb blast, your senses slip away into this new dimension where you rest for a while. It’s almost dizzying, the power of a 120 page screenplay masterfully interpreted and presented on the screen.

These days, the finesse of post-production inks out most blemishes in the quest for cinematic perfection, but in no way negates the on-set efforts of experienced and dedicated crew members. Beyond the actor and the camera there may be hundreds of people working in an attempted harmony to deliver the finest experience possible. When the credits roll at the end of the film and everyone else meanders out to battle for the right to pull out of their parking spots first while attempting to avoid running over slow-moving pedestrians I remain cemented in my seat. Why? Well, the magic of film is nothing without the people behind it.

In my youth I sat on many film sets marveling at the organized chaos exploding around me. While seated just over the shoulder of the director, I could see everything on the monitors just as the audience would while perched precariously on the edge of their favorite theater’s cushioned seats. On the flip-side, I could see everything the audience never would. Track was laid for the camera and a Director of Photography ensured the shot captured the scene perfectly. There was a make-up artist and hair artist constantly re-applying lipstick and resetting long locks after two actors embraced. A costumer ran back and forth between takes attempting to smooth out any wrinkles emerging from the day’s exposure to the elements. Beyond that lights and shades and dollys had to be perfectly in place. The extras worked their way through the shot with precision while the script supervisor attempted to keep track of the leads’ actions. Craft Service slipped through the amassed crowd with hot coffee and the gaffers and electricians sipped gratefully. Between shots the actors chatted to keep their energy high, smiles all around despite any outside factors, like the screaming fans down the street.

It was like seeing the inside of a clock and finally comprehending how each gear affected the other. We spend so much time looking at the face to see the ticking of the hands and appreciate the finesse of its finish, but we rarely turn it over to remove the covering and glimpse inside to see all the elements that make it possible. Those experiences on-set changed my perspective, and as soon as I found understanding, I hungered for more. I dreamed of being a part of it. Rather than being passive in the experience, I wanted to aid in its development. When a writer sits down to outline a screenplay, he or she brings so much more than words onto the page. There are experiences and emotions, desires and dreams, heartache and hunger pouring into sentences and characters. When a Director sits down with a Director of Photography to develop the shots that will tell the story, the camera almost becomes another character in each scene, and it’s up to them to decide whether or not the lens is passive. Every decision will affect the viewing experience and shape the viewer’s perception.

When make-up artists and costumers delve into the requirements of the piece, so much more than “pretty” comes into play. Time-periods and appropriate styles factor into the decision-making process that helps shape the look and feel of the world in which the characters live. Set dressers scour the world looking for the appropriate props to instantly give the audience insight into the mindset and attitude of the characters.

Then there’s the actors, removing themselves from the picture to slip into the shoes of someone perhaps more heroic, more debonair, more compassionate. Personal cadence and diction might need to disappear to better inhabit another’s thought and speech patterns. Prosthetics and clever lighting can mask a familiar face, but if the character is left wanting, then so too is the audience. The best actors are chameleons, capable of shifting from one person to the next like a body snatcher in an old horror film. If the audience is capable of temporarily forgetting the name of the star in favor of the character’s monogram, then the illusion is complete.

Movies are an experience. From the moment an idea springs to life inside someone’s mind the cycle begins. That one idea spreads and multiplies until hundreds engage in the molding and shaping of a film. Whether the story takes place on Mars or in New York City, each movie rests in its own unique world. Those hundreds of crew members, cast and promoters immerse themselves in the film in an attempt to manufacture the ideal adventure for the viewing public.

Then it’s your turn to taste the experience.

When you sit down in your favorite theater, armed with your customary treats and snacks, do you ever wonder if you’ll leave satisfied? Most of us have that fleeting feeling flipping through our stomachs as the lights dim and the film starts to wind through the projector. Truthfully, you may depart the theater after a few hours disappointed in how the film turned out. But take comfort, for just like in life, not all experiences are good. But, to me, they are worth the time and effort.

Just like any other experience, a movie can change your life. It can challenge your beliefs and affirm your greatest hopes. Through a theater trip you can dig into your own soul and find the child within starving for a taste of blissful innocence captured in a moment of delight shared between you and the faces on the screen. You can conquer your greatest fears in a burst of cathartic relief as the hero or heroine overcomes the impossible. You can remember what it was like to be loved, and dare to open that bruised heart once more to the affections of a caring person. You can see yourself mirrored in another’s eyes, and take note of the rough edges requiring some sanding that might have remained in shadows had you never purchased your ticket.

No matter which side of the screen you’re on, movies are more than rolling film or digital images. From slap-stick comedy to drama to horror and beyond, these are experiences that we carry with us long after the theater closes its doors for the night.

At least, that’s my take on it.

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Thanks for that wonderful post, Rachel. The team at TomCruise.com encourages all interested bloggers, writers and fans to submit their own guest blog as a comment below for consideration.


  • Vince DeMicco

    “What Movies Mean to Me” Really short answer. It is a Business. Family comedies are an endangered species right now. I have two actors on comedy project and three other big names want the “Offer” yeah big bucks that I do not have. One producer is little help, but better than none.

    On my last comedy one guy wanted ten million for his services. Yes movies are not so easy to get made with a bubblegum & duck tape budget. But I will keep trying that is all I can do. That’s what movies mean to me.

  • http://thisspacereserved.blogspot.com James Martin

    Fantastic read, very insightful, and a great perspective from someone who’s had the privilege of viewing the screen from both sides, as it were. The vicarious experience is second only to the experience of completely losing oneself in the story, such that all suggestion of vicariousness is replaced by total immersion. I can only imagine how rewarding it must be to see both the finished film, and a film in production – that’s part of the reason I’m working to succeed as a screenwriter. The idea of seeing something you’ve conceived become a reality for others to enjoy is an experience I can imagine must be second-to-none!

  • dawne larkin

    eloquent and purposeful. truly enjoyed reading through the responses to the question:
    ‘what movies mean to me?’. in short – all of our art forms whether it’s music, fine arts, cinema, theatre…tell a story. a reflection of who we are past, present and future. cinema is a unique medium because it incorporates all art forms in order to tell the story. visual imagery and sound are core features to our being. it is visceral. it is organic. deep. physical, mental and spiritual. some stories, profoundly display our personal life experiences intimately and we relate to it, while other stories dramatically open up whole new worlds otherwise unknown leaving us exposed and wanting to draw nearer, explore
    ….either way, movies have become an event, a happening, a positive change agent between us…the photography, the acting, the lines are discussed, laughed over, debated, repeated….movies are very much a part of our cultural way to self express and share….