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"Bridging the Divide at Home"/"Director's Note"

Bridging the Divide Starts at Home

I met our social media manager through Braver Angels, the grassroots national organization that bridges the divide. Her name is Shania Turner and I was impressed with her work in social media but also her commitment to depolarizing America. I learned that this strong commitment came from her own personal story. You can click on the link below to find out more about her story. It is such a powerful piece about how hard it is to find constructive ways to talk about politics when you and a loved one are on opposite sides of the divide. Reading her story, I was struck by how Shania and her mom had to try many different approaches to find some way to keep their relationship from deteriorating because of the polarization. It is an important reminder that this work is not easy and there will be setbacks. Sometimes many setbacks. But I am impressed that Shania is so thoughtful in keeping her relationship with her mom as the priority and to not give up on trying to find what works. Shania and her mom represent a microcosm of what the whole country is going through. I think what is hopeful is that they really do care about each other and they are doing their best to work through it. If we can learn from that example, our country has a shot at moving forward and not letting polarization push us down a much darker path.

Top Finalist at CWA! and The Director's Process

This week in The Question, we have a fun update.

The Question is now a Top Finalist in the Creative World Awards! The 16th annual Creative World Awards is a leading international screenwriting contest well known for having the writer’s interest at heart when it comes to development and industry promotion.

We made it from First Round Finalist to Quarter Finalist to Semi-Finalist and finally to Top Finalist! Stay tuned because we’ll find out who the winners are on July 8th.

Also, I want to share with you some insights on the Pre-Production Process.

Pre-production is the part of a film production where you prepare everything that will get your cast and crew ready for the film shoot.

From a director’s perspective, they need to really figure out what their vision of the screenplay is so that they can lead the cast and crew to a fully realized film that will be impactful.

Currently, I am thinking about the film's story and imagining what the genre and style of the film will be. In terms of genre and style, it is a realistic political and romantic drama. When I think of political dramas that I connect to, one film stands out: Steven Soderbergh’s Traffic which won Best Picture at the Oscars in 2000. I saw this film when it first came out and was impressed how Soderbergh showed multiple stories about “the war on drugs” in a way that was both compelling and personal. By the end of the film, I felt like we had dived deep into the lives of real people struggling with many aspects of drug addiction and drug enforcement.

Soderbergh is a master at giving us the feel that we are “a fly on the wall” and we are watching and listening in on very intimate conversations and situations. I also appreciate the screenwriter Stephen Gahan’s approach to making the film’s dialogue very believable but also making important political points about "the war on drugs."

So I have been rewatching Traffic and observing how Soderbergh does this. I think one of the outstanding elements of the movie is the cast and their performances. Everyone from Catherine Zeta Jones to Michael Douglas to Don Cheadle to Benicio Del Toro (who won an Oscar for his performance) performs their role with a level of authenticity and naturalism that really keeps you engaged and makes you believe each moment. Soderbergh has helped guide all of these many performances to the same realistic tone and that is no small feat.

The other aspect of filmmaking I appreciate is Soderbergh’s priority in shooting in an almost documentary style of filmmaking. He talked about this style in the commentary on the DVD where he wanted the audience to feel like they were seeing real events transpire. He shot most of the scenes with multiple cameras and this allowed the actors to really play off each other in a way that a single camera setup wouldn’t allow as much.

Just for clarification, many films shoot with one camera set up. For example, if there was a scene with two actors talking to each other. The crew would shoot it from a master shot where they capture both actors talking to each other. Then, they would set up the camera to point at one of the actors only and that actor would do the scene again. Then, they reverse the shot towards the second actor and the second actor does the same. Then the editor puts it all together and it makes it seem like all three angles were shot at the same time when in fact that is just an illusion.

But with a multi-camera setup, the actors really are talking to each other in real-time. If you watch the scenes of Traffic, this interplay makes a difference.

Check out this compelling scene from Traffic:

Warning for strong language

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