I spend most of my time thinking about light. It's my favorite part of cinematography, and probably the most difficult thing to master about it. And it's also a symbol for goodness. Which is something I ponder in my heart constantly. Additive color is a concept that I use quite a bit and today I realized it's a metaphor for something that's been weighing on my mind over the past few weeks.
Additive color deals with light. If you combine the primary colors (red, blue, yellow) of light, it yields white light. In subtractive color (which deals with pigments and inks) the primary colors combined yield black. (I'm looking at this symbolically, where light is hope/faith/goodness and darkness is prejudice/hate/violence.) More on this later.
One of my favorite things about myself (in spite of my many unattractive flaws, which I won't delineate right now) is that I love to love things, and I'm very open about it. As a small child I was obsessed with Bonanza (pretty sure I discovered it on TV Land at a hotel and life was never the same) and I wasn't even five when I specifically asked for Celine Dion: All the Way... A Decade of Song for Christmas. I still have that CD—it was a defining memento of my childhood and I'll treasure it forever.
More recently, I often share my love of Roger Deakins, Reed Morano, and Bradford Young—it's such common knowledge that people even made birthday cards/memes featuring them for my last few birthdays. Law & Order is something that's also a constant for me (see photo below; I'm wearing my heart on my sleeve), and I've been gushing a lot about The Night Of, Kate McKinnon, my sisters, trying new foods, sneaking Orange Julius into the movie theatre, listening to true crime podcasts that are creating a space for women to talk about their anxieties, and going on road trips.
The last few months have been a delight as a filmmaker—so many incredible films have been released in such a short time and it's been an absolute joy to experience. Some of my favorites (in no particular order!) were Arrival, Nocturnal Animals, Moonlight, La La Land, and Loving. For me the top two of those were Moonlight and La La Land.
I think they're representative of what is going on in our world right now. La La Land is a love letter to classic musicals and provided a lot of joy to audiences in a time of conflict and despair. And Moonlight used the language of film to boldly and beautifully tell a story that has been perpetually pushed to the margins and create a space to open hearts and promote empathy and love. I'm glad that Moonlight won Best Picture at the Academy Awards! I wanted it to, not to mention that it was beyond deserved and the implications of it winning are so joyful. Love is love and it will pave the way for more marginalized stories at the table.
And that brings me to the idea that light is additive. Over the last few weeks, people have aggressively criticized me to my face for openly adoring La La Land so much. I've openly shared how much it means to me quite a bit. It was released a few weeks after I decided to move to LA when I graduated, not to mention Singin' in the Rain is the first film I remember seeing, and the cinematography spoke to my soul (the colors, the movement, the old Hollywood long shots) in a way that words can't. I love it! And I share that! And the goodness of La La Land in no way negates the goodness of Moonlight. Light is additive and there's no finite quantity of goodness. It begets itself.
This year for me the Academy Awards was the perfect example of light being additive. The goodness of each of these projects doesn't take away from each other. They lifted each other and no doubt they inspired other people to create more light themselves.
It's vulnerable to love something. To open yourself up to it, to connect with it, and share that connection with other people. And unless it's harmful with its ideas, motives, or implications*, I'm not going to criticize you or shame you for loving something. You can love what you love. Like what you like! I have afforded myself the ability to welcome the light (from many different and diverse sources) that speaks to me and it has lifted me up, made me better, happier, and more compassionate and whole.
The goodness of one thing doesn't diminish the goodness of another. It's additive. And that's my favorite thing about light.
*an essential caveat