“Life After Pi” is a short documentary about Rhythm & Hues Studios, the L.A. based Visual Effects company that won an Academy Award for its groundbreaking work on “Life of Pi”– just two weeks after declaring bankruptcy. The film explores rapidly changing forces impacting the global VFX community, and the Film Industry as a whole.
This is only the first chapter of an upcoming feature-length documentary “Hollywood Ending,” that delves into the larger, complex challenges facing the US Film Industry and the many professionals working within it, whose fates and livelihood are intertwined.
In Western cultures, we tend to over-emphasize how much we know and so feel that not knowing is unacceptable. So when we really just "don't know", we put ourselves in something of a conundrum. Our fear of admitting that we don't know leads us to try to save face. So we conjure up some sort of appearance of knowing so we can feel we're in control and hope to fool others into believing that our veneer of competence is intact.
In contrast, many Eastern cultures view not knowing as a self-supporting, personal-developmental practice that can improve how effectively we experience life. Approaching a situation or problem with a sense of "not knowing" can be a catalyst for creativity and insight. The darkness of the unknown supports us to access our inner strength and inner wisdom. And asking positive (not-fear-based) questions can help us to overcome our uncertainty and feelings of inadequacy.
Creative people thrive on serendipity, spontaneous interactions, moments of ribald humor, intense debate or just simple eye contact, and I felt as if I was losing myself. I decided that it was time to act. So I tried an experiment. I just stopped saying yes and started saying no to things.
Actually, there was a bit more method to my madness. I started a ritual that I still use today: I sit down and look at my calendar every Sunday night, pore through my coming week’s meetings and cancel a bunch of them — redundant ones where I don’t need to be “in the loop,” ones where there is an opportunity for someone else to make a decision, ones that don’t particularly inspire me, or ones where I can’t really add value. My overarching goal right now, wherever possible, is to give myself more time to simply be.
I have a similar ritual on Sundays as I prepare for the week and I make as many decisions as I possibly can for the week on Sunday so I don't have to think of the day-to-day and can focus my attention on relevant details. And speaking of details, don't miss an early TED Talk by Bennett on the small details.
Comfort-seeking missiles, we spend the most to minimize pain and maximize pleasure. When it comes to technologies, we mainly want to make things easy. Not to be bored. Oh, and maybe to look a bit younger.
Our will-to-comfort, combined with our technological powers, creates a stark possibility. If we’re not careful, our technological evolution will take us toward not a singularity but a sofalarity. That’s a future defined not by an evolution toward superintelligence but by the absence of discomforts.
The sofalarity (pictured memorably in the film “Wall-E”) is not inevitable either. But the prospect of it makes clear that, as a species, we need mechanisms to keep humanity on track. The technology industry, which does so much to define us, has a duty to cater to our more complete selves rather than just our narrow interests. It has both the opportunity and the means to reach for something higher. And, as consumers, we should remember that our collective demands drive our destiny as a species, and define the posthuman condition.