#43 Applause please!!!

As we sat at the Bayerische Staatsoper, excited to be watching a ballet performance that evening with the Bayrisches Staatsballett, I was reminded how wonderful it is to sit in a live theater. About two and a half hours later the performance was over and the public applauded. I applauded as well. I smiled, whistled, applauded. The dancer who played the part of Solor reminded me somehow of Nureyev. Possibly thanks to his jumping skills. When he jumped he seemed to float in the air and when he landed he would do it so softly that a feather would’ve echoed louder. I had the privilege of seeing Nureyev dance live in Paris when I was around 9 years old before he passed away. It obviously made an impression on me and I’ve unintentionally compared every live performance I’ve seen since then to his amazing skills. So I applauded when the ensemble came out and I whistled and screamed Bravo when Vadim Muntagirov came on stage along with Ekaterina Petina, who played Nikija.

Rudolf Nureyev, New York, 1967 © Photo by Richard Avedon

I looked around and remembered the applause from my days working in the theater. Then I realized that a filmmaker doesn’t get the instant satisfaction of hearing an applause at the end of a performance, I mean at the end of the film. Unless it’s a premiere or you are at a festival with the film, everyday someone might see your film and applaud at the end, except you will never hear it or feel it.

It’s bittersweet.

As a filmmaker you’re just happy to get your film out there to an audience, but unlike a performance in the theater, you have no idea what your audience sounds like. You do however know how many bodies filled the theater: it’s called box-office numbers. In the end, it’s probably safe to say, that a filmmaker’s applause is it’s box-office. The higher the number, the louder the applause. Box-office hits are like standing ovations. I’m sure it’s thrilling to see all those numbers, but as an artist, the instant gratification of a job well done is always desired, no matter what one says. This instant acknowledgment  you do get in the theater right after you gave it your all, you don’t really get it behind the camera, except from your crew when a scene is really well done, if you are lucky, but it’s still not your  whole work. It would be like applauding one act at the theater and sitting in silent during the other two acts. No matter how business oriented the filmmaking industry is, therefore the numbers are actually really important, you can’t take the artist out of the filmmaker. No matter how hard you try. It’s called passion and passion has little to do with numbers and everything to do with humans.

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