Making a film is like having a hot oil wrestling match with perception.
Battling a tag team that includes your own perception, the critics’
perception, and the thousands who form the public's perception. Flailing,
clutching, you'll do anything to get a slippery grip. The battle's endless,
fought with close-ups, press junkets, digital sound, Oscar, Regis, CGI,
ADR, AFI, HD, full frontal, mini-majors, 800-pound gorillas, bleaching—both
hair and print—re-writes, re-shoots, focus groups and prayer.
All in a hope to shape perception.
This column is about shaping perception. The reader, probably, views
it less and less as a column and more as a rapidly evolving paper glider.
But the guest columnist—director/writer/editor/cameraman/narrator
of the acclaimed surf film Step Into Liquid—sees
it as a golden opportunity for the shameless promotion of his hotly-anticipated
action documentary Dust to Glory. Turns out Dana Brown
is shameless, but not much at promoting.
Dana wrote “The film opens in New York and Los Angeles on April
1st; Nationwide on April 8th.” Then cut it. He contrasted Variety's
rave about D2G being "a kick ass action doc" with DirtSports
Magazine's praise "a journey toward a better understanding
of the human condition." Then muttered something and cut both.
Finally, completely frustrated, he banged out in bold caps, “Dust
to Glory—Coming to a theatre near you. Go early and go
often!,” knowing it would never be used. Dana finished with "visit
Then, Dana stopped referring to himself in the third person, making
it apparent Dana and he are known to be me, and I am moving on.
As a second generation non-fiction filmmaker with a girl’s first
name, I'm used to smartass questions. But one that I've been asked a
hundred times by people with seemingly no malice or forethought, I have
no answer for.
They ask, "Do you ever plan on making a real film?"
Bam. My eyes glaze. I'm struck dumb. Paralyzed by inner voices.
A real film? That's not a question, it's a Zen riddle. Does fiction
make a film real, or filming what's real make a film not real? Will
a snake swallowing its own tail disappear, or leave a label? Of course
none of this is said, only conveyed by my mute, slack-jawed fury.
Next time I'm asked the question, I'll respond with my own question.
If only a real film makes a real filmmaker, and only real filmmakers
like Pedro Almodóvar, John Sayles and Bernardo Bertolucci write
this column, how do you explain me being able to write something this
childish—Na, nana, nanna, naa....Ha, ha, ha....unless I am a filmmaker?
Now who hears the sound of one hand clapping?
Bringing us back to perception.
Film is perception. Baja is perception. The race is perception.
Dust to Glory is about 267 different vehicles all
headed towards the same finish line. People with nothing in common but
a shared perception. This is a race that anybody in any vehicle can
enter, held in a place where Adventure isn't a genre. It's a noun. Possibility
isn't a buzz word. It's fact. And pursuit of happiness isn't a concept,
it's a challenge.
They race each other, the Baja, and themselves—a 1000-mile inkblot
test of fleeting moments never to be forgotten. A perpetual metaphor
featuring man and machine, nature and competition, combining to make
an experience greater than the sum of the parts.
On the race’s second day the sun began to set. It was nearly
over. Still, many kept charging towards the impossible, blazing down
the long forgotten dirt roads. To question why is pointless. There is
only the answer—Why not?
In the golden light of the setting sun, perception changes.
Contradictions are swept together, mingling and swirling like the dust.
Harsh realities turn magic. The machines seem to have been born from
the land, and the racers united as one, charging towards something far
greater than the finish. The dreamers and their dreams. A shared perception.
And you stand and shout at the top of your lungs "Gooooo!!!"
Because they came to tilt at windmills and, damn, if they didn't end
up slaying dragons.