Working Towards The Close Encounter

Posted by Wayne Sheppard On October - 26 - 2011

When I saw the movies Close Encounters of The Third Kind and ET, I loved the portrayal of beings from beyond our little beautiful blue and green planet. We all know there was the obvious symbolism of being “different” especially in ET but also definitely in Close Encounters when the main male character, Roy Neary, played by Richard Dreyfuss was so deeply affected by his close encounter, affected to the point of obsession that eventually drove away his wife and children. He struggled and I struggled with him when he said  very passionately from the depths of his person, “But this is important!!!” and  “I know this means something important.” His unstoppable determination, intelligence and intuitive savvy finally got him past all of the roadblocks and obstacles until he climbed  Devil’s Tower and came to the secret landing strip and the crew that awaited the coming of the extra terrestrials.  His childlike nature and sense of ethereal wonder was portrayed so beautifully when the alien children came towards him, held his hands and chose him from all of the others suited up to go and brought him into the blinding light of the boarding ramp. He looked back at us with an indescribable joy.

Seeing that movie planted in me the conviction of how wonderful a motion picture can be, and how whether consciously or subconsciously Steven Spielberg knew how to tell a beautiful story . As a high school Art and photo teacher I then began a program called Telecommunications in which in addition to broadcasting and journalism, we began to make “electronic cinematography” movies with teen oriented issues of self esteem,  drinking and driving, etc. and presented them as half hour movies in assemblies in our school and also on local access TV.

The great promise of what this kind of technology could do when used to reach the masses with good messages was a seed that grew in me further over the years. When I wrote Burden of Privilege:The Secret Life of Geoffrey Collins, I wrote it as a movie, dreaming like Ray Neery that something important was waiting to happen and waiting to be  born. So I continue like Mr. Neary to work past any roadblocks of doubt or bureaucratic complexity to make it to the mountain. My hope is that when I meet the special ones, everyone will come for the ride.


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