You should go live in Brazil, or Thoughts on Film

by William Wellman / Oct 04, 2012 /

When you think of career paths that benefit from international experience, one that you usually won’t think of is the janitorial business. That’s because it doesn’t, really. But another career path you usually won’t think of is film.

Films, or motion pictures if you like, did not exist prior to the 1860’s. It was then that one Eadweard Muybridge discovered that by showing a series of pictures fast enough, you could create the illusion of motion. The opportunists of the day jumped on that discovery, and by the 1880’s the first recognizable film reels had been born.

Until the 1920’s, there weren’t any voices or sound effects added. In fact, the only sound playing was the gaudy music designed to mask the cantankerous clunking of the sizeable projector in the theater.

But with the discovery that film could be used not only as a sideshow attraction, but as a form of art and popular entertainment, came the idea of using film to tell a story with emotion and depth.

Color was initially created by painting or stenciling over the actual black and white film, but the technology was soon created that allowed it to be viewed in ‘natural’ color, although the film still appeared far from natural. Contrary to popular belief, the first color film was not The Wizard of Oz, but Becky Sharp, which preceded it by four years.

Today, film is a massive industry, full of giants wielding huge budgets, with hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world involved.

And, like any career involving hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world, communication is crucial. In this business you will be dealing with people of all nationalities, languages, and tempers on a daily basis.

It makes most people uncomfortable when they’re taken out of their normal life and placed in new surroundings. You’re not in Kansas anymore. And don’t expect a huge ceremony of singing midgets to welcome you to your new surroundings, either. You’re expected to fall into place; to get adjusted and get on with your new life. Except that because you’ve never left Kansas, it seems extremely challenging. And it’s something that international experience can help you with.

If a foreign country was a restaurant, a lot of people wouldn’t know where it was. Those who do, usually tend not to dine there. Taking a look at the menu, they say ‘Strange language? Odd cultural practices? Bizarre traditions? Different norms? Sorry, kids. This place looks way too expensive. I’m sure there’s a McDonalds a little further down the highway.’

Don’t be that guy.

Because the people who decide to eat there anyway, whether out of desperation or curiosity, always get something more than a good meal out of it. They learn how to adapt. How to get used to other people’s languages, traditions, mannerisms. I cannot stress how important it is to learn that. How to be easy-going, independent, understanding, and tolerant enough of another nation’s norms to stay in their country. It’s a skill so valuable that even in the constriction of a huge, high-profit commercial industry, it’s still useful.

Can you imagine if a director was unable to communicate well with the actors because he was uncomfortable around them? Or the film crew with the director, or the effects department with the film crew? The reason you don’t see that is because anyone who stays in the business long enough learns to work with people they would normally be uncomfortable with. They either become flexible, or they break under the bending pressure of a new environment. But that’s the hard way to learn. You can learn so much from staying in another country; about how to listen to people, talk to people, and how to function when you’re sailing over uncharted waters. Word gets around, and you become known for being a pleasure to work with. You can really open up opportunities with a change of attitude and a little experience with a foreign people. It’s a valuable skill, for the film, or any career.

Even the janitorial business.

 

 

 

 

William Wellman is a member of the Youth Travel Blogging Mentorship Program