Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Writing Time-Out: Movies, Milk-Duds, and MJ

"I don't care what they say. Ain't nobody's business..."

In some shots it's a body double. The production company is milking a dead man's profit-generating popularity. Parts of some songs are dubbed with old tracks. Too much movie-making craft obscuring the real story. It's all a hoax, he's living in an Eastern European castle, pulling everyone's strings. All hype, no history.

Say what you like (and the Internet is saying everything possible), I'm still going to see This it It, the Michael Jackson documentary film made from concert rehearsal footage. I'm fascinated by creativity, by the energy and process behind a multi-talented artist, by what occurs behind the scenes of any major event, and by film-making in general.

I don't think, as the conspiracy-theorists do, that it's a convenient coincidence there was so much high-quality rehearsal footage available, for the same reason I'm no longer shocked to discover that an author's 350-page award-winning novel has a backstory involving an unused 100,000 words, 4,000 pages, and 18 drafts.

To my mind, it's not so much about the "real story" of the run-up to Jackson's cancelled London concerts, but an opportunity to glimpse how the work of so many artists -- including musicians, choreographers, lighting technicians, dancers, etc. -- comes together to transform the original creative impulses of the singer/songwriter into a carefully intended experience for a particular audience.

Because isn't that what writers try to do every day (okay, maybe without pyrotechnics) -- to leave an audience (of readers) feeling differently than before?

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