5) Artistic Intent…Protecting the Dream

Let’s go back to a very basic concept – the very idea behind “Why We Care” about the quality of the picture and sound that our customers experience.

Someone had an idea for a story to tell, and somehow that story met a producer and director who found the money to be able to tell that story as a movie. That is the intention – to tell the story to a bunch of people.

How this story gets told is sometimes called Artistic Intent. Sometimes, because it is the Director who is hired to carry the vision and purpose forward, this is called the Director’s Intent.

The Director and Producer hire Cinematographers – the people who can cleverly make a camera capture the light reflecting off the scenes and reflecting off the actors into the lenses.  They hire Audio people and many others to capture the sounds and make the scenery and clever stunts. Then they hire Post Production teams to manipulate and edit and balance the sound and pictures. Finally, a distribution group puts into onto hard disks or satellites, or somehow gets it into the cinema facility.

In another Lesson, we explained how Engineering is the Art of Compromise. It is the same with movie creation. The Art of Compromise is everywhere. There is only so much time and money, the technology can only do so much, and eventually it has to meet a delivery date.

After all that work, there it is. Just behind that little piece of glass called the Port Window, the final lens. The movie shines through them both, and into the room and onto the screen and through the speakers.

The Director’s Intent wasn’t to spend money for technique and tools at a clever production set or post-production room. It wasn’t to keep a lot of people employed or to make the camera sales people happy. It wasn’t to sell a lot of popcorn, even though all these things may happen and are important to a lot of people.

The Director’s Intent is to create an effect upon your mutual audience.

Which means that your job is to help create that effect. You participate in the Artistic Intent by making certain that your tools are operating at the optimum level possible.

Of course, cinema sound and picture projection equipment, and auditoriums with their screens and seats all live in the bubble of the Art of Compromise as well. Movies want to be shown in a perfectly dark room, but safety requires that there are exit lights and illumination on the stairs and walkways. Movies want the speakers and screen to be perfect, but they get older every day, becoming a little darker and less perfectly responsive. How often are they changed, or adjusted? Speakers and screens (and seats and air conditioning and, and, and…) all cost money, so they get replaced when they reach some compromise level…not perfect, not horrible.

Nobody ever says, “I think I am going to present ‘Horrible’ today.” The opposite, “I think I will present ‘Perfect’ today,” is not going to happen either. Perhaps the best description might be, “Appropriate Compromise.”

Who decides what “Appropriate” is? Some might say, it is the big boss of the cinema who balances the requirements and dreams and ability of the audience to pay. Some might say it is the audience who is the boss, who the big boss has to respond to, but most will agree that they audience really doesn’t know perfect or acceptable, or even what to look or listen for. They just know what is irritating. They may not even know how to describe it.

Either way, it is your responsibility to deliver the best you can with the assets and policies that the big boss has given you. Some might say “Deliver more than you promise”, but what you certainly want to do is remember that you are part of the Artistic Intent.

The purpose of all these lessons is to help you find problems before the audience finds irritation. If there is a problem that they find, who want to know enough so when the audience member describes it you can get enough information so you can give good information to the tech who has to repair it.

And that is our job, to give you tools and information so you can do that easily and well. Let us know what we can do for you, so when that magic day arrives when a director or cinematographer or sound editor comes up to you and says, “Thanks, that was just right”, you know that you did something to make it that way.

Now, when someone asks what your job is, what do you say?

I help create a better experience of audience members.

I am the last person in the chain that delivers the Director’s Intent.

Maybe we need a t-shirt contest for this.

Where Artistic Intent Meets Your Life in the Cinema

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