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I grabbed my first camera in sixth grade. I would grasp the handle of the silver Sony camcorder like slipping on a comfortable glove, and glide my thumb over the intricate aluminum buttons, finally putting it to rest on top of the big red dot labelled “REC”. My father had been especially reluctant to give it to me, since it was fragile, but my incessant begging to make my own stop-motion LEGO movies made him happy to help.
I would sit in my room for hours on end, painstakingly taking picture after picture of two tiny Star Wars figures dueling with lightsabers. Anakin’s jab was parried swiftly, but he followed up with a lunge that burned a scathing hole in Darth Vader’s cape. The whole fiasco ended with a spectacular explosion, with Darth Vader emerging victorious since I was in control of the ending. The credits would roll up from the bottom, with my name in big bold letters, a crowning glory of the little skit I had created.
Since then, I saved up to buy my own camera, began watching tutorials on YouTube, and learned essential cinematic skills like framing, directing, and editing. A couple friends and I even decided to launch our own YouTube channel, inspired by the online comedians and singers that made up the majority of my web-browsing. Needless to say, we did not become celebrities — but we had a lot of fun.
Over time, a hobby that started as just a childhood dream of transforming into a YouTube celebrity grew into a more profound appreciation for the world around me. Watching through the eyes of a camera is probably the closest thing to truly seeing life in another person’s perspective. The cinema explores every alternate universe in existence — just like my own depiction of Star Wars — and allows it to flourish in the imaginative minds of the millions of individuals.
In the end, when all the cameras are turned off and a production is finished, I sit back and watch my own creation. A window I’ve created, all on my own. But regardless of how many windows I make, they are what they are: just windows. An ideal reality is an oxymoron – a paradox that cannot possibly exist. I can never climb through them, or jump into any of the worlds I created myself. But deep inside, I’m okay with that; the truly ideal reality isn’t out there, where what’s perfect is already set in stone. It’s here, where my pursuit of perfection carves away my imperfections, bit by bit, turning me into who I am today. So I’m okay with not being in an ideal world that perfectly replicates what I have seen on film.
Because I’m living in one right now.
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