Intro to Film 101

Intro to Film 101 is not meant to break open the skull. It is an introductory class, that's why there is a 101 after it. But Professor John Belton changed my life in a way he probably never knew the first day of class.

What I wanted to be when I grew up from college was a filmmaker so taking Intro to Film 101 was necessary and expected. I buzzed in my front-row seat on the first day of class.

Belton looked like John Goodman's brother with an allergy to smiling, but I thought I could overlook that if it meant I got to watch and study films for legit collegiate credit.

He began class with a warning. In the most dramatic way, he said, if you stay this class, you'll never see film the same again. 

It was no stroking of his own ego, it was the truth. He made clear that learning what it takes to study and analyze film would color your perspective in appreciating it as an art form. For every class you learned more of the behind the scenes, you saw the character on the celluloid differently. You knew what kind of decisions were being made to get that shot, you saw where and how the camera had to travel to get the shot. 

But it made it all that more magical when you forgot everything, or just couldn't figure out how you got where you were. It's the twist in Fight Club or the cinematography of 2001: A Space Odyssey. How did they do that, you have to ask!

Professor Belton was right, not just about film, but about life. Your knowledge colors your experience, for better or for worse. You can't know how until you're there and that's a good lesson for life. We can only set out to do something, wherever we end is what we've done.