How to Watch Rite of Passage and other Steampunk and Steamfunk Movies
When Rite Of Passage, the first Steamfunk feature film, premieres in February of 2014 at the Black Science Fiction Film Festival, you are going to be amazed.
The costumes…the props…the sets…the music…the special effects…the acting, action, production and the story, written by the award winning screenwriting team of Balogun Ojetade and Milton Davis…all at such a high level you will think you are watching a “Hollywood” film, not a low budget film created by two independent multimedia companies and a “tech” university.
And just how should you watch such a masterpiece?
Should you chill with a date and a bucket of popcorn? Should you attend in Steamfunk cosplay with your other funktastic friends?
As you watch Rite of Passage, you should simultaneously be mindful, be emotionally engaged and be critical.
This is the mindset of watching a movie in a non-distracted manner.
This is about being in the present moment; watching with undivided attention and examining the full range of the film’s content without judgment.
Notice when distracting thoughts enter your head while watching the movie; let those thoughts speed through your mind then return your focus to the movie. Also, notice the emotions felt by the characters, and the feelings you are feeling in response.
Be Emotionally Engaged
This is the mindset of watching a movie with emotional investment.
Attach to the characters – in the same way you would attach to a parent, partner, friend or child. Care what happens to the characters.
Receive the protagonist with curiousity, optimism, and trust. You will notice qualities within the character that are likable and unlikable; relatable and unrelatable. This will help you to become clear about the character’s motivations, and to emotionally invest in the character’s experience, which will allow you to tune into the character and fully experience empathic reactions. The more you actively tune in to the character, the more you’ll feel what he or she feels and, in turn, the more you will learn what the character learns.
This is the mindset of deriving lessons for living from the narrative, and actively applying those lessons to your personal experience.
Follow the internal or psychological story of the film – an external story, for example is a dramatic car chase; how the protagonist feels about being chased and how he or she chooses to handle it are the internal story.
Being critical affords the opportunity to examine the messages within the film.
These three mindsets – mindfulness, emotional engagement and critical-thinking – are intrinsic to your successful pursuit of everyone’s primary objective when watching a film (whether you know it or not): using the experience of watching that film to bring about personal growth and positive change.
As you watch the film with these three mindsets, you should also approach the film in two ways:
The first approach is to examine how the movie functions as a coping tool – savor the positive affect the film has upon your feeling of well-being.
The second approach is to examine how the movie serves as a metaphor – capture insight-oriented parallels.
The mere act of watching a movie can improve your mood (emotional), serve as a bonding experience with friends (social), engage memory and attention (cognitive) and serve as a good, clean source of fun on a Friday night (behavioral).
Let’s apply this model to the Rite of Passage tie-in, the surprisingly profound, yet action-packed short film, Rite of Passage: Initiation. The story is about Dorothy Wright – a pupil of Harriet Tubman – who must face a final, arduous trial to prove she is worthy to be a Conductor on the Underground Railroad.
With regards to examining how the movie functions as a coping tool, pay close attention to the scene in which Harriet informs Dorothy why she has brought her to the secret clearing in the forest for the first time and how that scene makes you feel. You will enjoy watching Dorothy’s reaction to the moment and, in turn, become more engaged in her storyline. You will probably also reminisce about your own experience in the face of some great obstacle.
The movie as a coping tool induces immediate, emotional effects, serving to connect you with the character and possibly connecting you with those you interact with well after the movie has ended – those emotions will stay with you for a while and can help you to better relate to others.
With regards to using the movie as a metaphor, examine the different facets of the mindsets of Harriet and Dorothy, Masterfully portrayed by Iyalogun Ojetade and Dasie Thames, respectively. Find parallels in your life, in nature and in society. What do the two characters represent, in general and what do they represent to you personally?
Viewing movies using the above methods now gives those movies even greater value as tools of catharsis and growth.
Of course, these methods should be practiced on movies you’ve seen before until they are a natural part of your watching process, so you do not interfere with the fun of watching a new movie, or one of your favorites, by thinking too much and becoming distracted.
After the worldwide premiere of Rite of Passage in 2015, be sure to see me afterward and let me know how the film affected you.
And yes, you should chill with a date and a bucket of popcorn and / or attend in Steamfunk cosplay with your funktastic friends.