I can’t get this story out of my head. Even though I first saw the short film, Dark Side of the Lens, years ago, it keeps coming back to me.
The film is a six-minute glimpse into the life of surf photographer, Mickey Smith. I like to watch this with my headphones on and the video player set to full screen—no other distractions to nip at my attention. Once the credits are over and the music’s dissipated, it’s just me, my thoughts and a black screen with my reflection. The story’s grip gradually loosens its hold, sympathetically nudging me back into reality. And so I slink away, not wanting to go.
What is it about some stories that stay with us? The unshakable ones. The ones that stick.
On the surface, there’s nothing in this story that’s in any way reflective of my own life. I’ll probably (hopefully) never find myself waiting patiently under a three-story-high wall of ocean water, but that doesn’t matter.
I’m still connected to the story, pulled in by an invisible cord undulating beneath the visuals and cinematic effects. A cord tangled in nerves of passion, tension, desire, frustration and a slew of other emotions one experiences in pursuit of creative fulfillment and a happy life. So, in a strange way, I do see myself there, diving off cliffs into angry waves, camera in hand, grin on my face. Raw, relentless passion.
That’s the power of good storytelling: when the story is no longer just a mouthpiece of the person who lived it, but a gateway into my own story that has yet to be written.