I was growing up, my mother used to make the most delicious
split pea soup I have ever tasted. Rather than it being
thin and gruel-like, as is often the case with split pea
soup, hers was hearty and full of big chunks of potatoes,
carrots, and ham. When you ate a bowl full of it, you were
left warm inside and very pleasantly full.
brings up this reminiscent recollection of soup in this
April editorial, you may ask?
a lot of people have asked me how Microfilmmaker was started what
purpose it's designed to really serve and why I think
that the team at Microfilmmaker is in a position to actually
help filmmakers. I mean, when it comes down to it, just
who do we think we are? None of the members of our
team are multi-million dollar movie moguls and, as such,
there's a question in some people's minds as to the validity
of this magazine. Every time I hear a question like this,
I am reminded of the Story of Stone Soup.
those of you unfamiliar with the Story of Stone Soup,
it is the story of a wandering beggar a few hundred years
ago. The beggar wanders into a small village and, because
he's very hungry, he asks a number of the wealthier villagers
if they can spare any food. The farmer says that he has
no vegetables, the butcher says he has no meat, the dairymaid
says she has no milk in fact, no one seems to have
any food at all when the beggar talks to them!
beggar then sits down in the square and thinks for a moment.
He notices a few poor people in the town who are hungry
like he is and a few more who have a little food to eat,
but not even enough for a single meal, let alone enough
to share with him. Meanwhile, the wealthier members of the
town don't seem to be willing to help anyone else. As he
thinks about these things, he hatches a brilliant plan.
up in the middle of town and announces for all the villagers
to hear that he will make an amazingly delicious soup from
"nothing more than a few stones and some water."
Because of the absurdity of his claim, the entire village
draws near to see if he can accomplish it.
obviously, if we're going to make soup, we need an iron
cauldron," the beggar begins. "Can anyone fetch
us an iron cauldron?"
got a real big one," one housewife volunteers and scurries
to her home to get the cauldron.
of course, we'll need a fire to heat the soup over,"
he continues. "Does anyone have some logs and kindling
they could bring for the fire? How about a cauldron holder
to let it hang over the fire? Oh, and a stick to stir it
raises his hand to volunteer the firewood while another
housewife volunteers the cauldron holder and stirring stick.
of course, we'll need some fresh water," the beggar
explains after everything has been brought.
can draw a few buckets of fresh water for you," a young
the beggar smiles. "After that, I just need a few stones."
water is placed in the pot and the fire is kindled, the
beggar wanders about the square until he finds two or three
stones that look like they're just the size he needs and
throws them into the pot.
crowd waits expectantly, he points out, "This stone
soup is going to be delicious just as it is, but it's too
bad we don't have some carrots we could add to it as well,
because that always brings out new flavors."
of the farmers raises his hand and says, "Y'know, I've
got some extra carrots I could throw in there, if it'll
make it taste better."
the farmer brings the carrots, he also brings a knife and
the beggar proceeds to peel the carrots and slice them into
that the beggar sighs, "It's too bad we don't have
some beef we could add, because I've always found that beef
really brings out the flavor of the carrots in the stone
I've got some extra beef we could throw in there,"
volunteers the butcher and he trundles off to get the meat.
day passes, the audience goes from waiting for the beggar
to suggest new additions and just volunteers new ones themselves,
waiting to hear from the beggar if their offerings will
improve the taste of the stone soup. To each voluntary contribution,
the beggar confirms that this would be "just the
thing to bring the flavor of the soup out even more."
end of the day, the entire cauldron is full to overflowing
with the heartiest soup anyone in the town has ever seen.
The beggar encourages everyone to bring as many bowls as
they can find and proceeds to serve everyone from the giant
cauldron of soup, rich and poor alike.
everyone is contentedly full and smiling widely, amazed
by the ingenuity of the beggar who could make "such
a filling soup out of nothing more than a few stones and
basically what Microfilmmaker Magazine is all about. As
low budget filmmakers ourselves, we noticed that it was
very difficult to make our films, that we had to learn a
lot of things the hard way, and that we were too small to
be noticed by anyone who had the means to help us out. As
we looked around at all the other filmmakers who were in
our predicament, we began to believe that, if we all worked
together and pooled our resources, then an amazing 'soup'
could be made--one that could even change society. One that
could grow so large that it could even attract the notice
and assistance of larger companies and benefactors so that,
by the end, everyone was much benefited from their association
with this filmmaking 'stone soup.'
I first started the magazine, a lot of people--both filmmakers
and companies alike--were incredulous that I thought a bunch
of people making films for less than $30 grand could change
our society. However, when I suggested that a few filmmakers
send their films into be critiqued to be a part of it all,
they said, "Sure, why not?" When I suggested
to a few software companies that they let us review their
software, they said, "Sure, why not?" When
I suggested to a few writers that they let us reprint some
of their how-to articles, they said, "Sure, why
has gone on, more people have come up to the Microfilmmaking
'cauldron'. Now, filmmakers volunteer their films for critique,
software companies offer their software for review, filmmakers
ask to write tutorials, musicians request to be listed in
the magazine so they can let microfilmmakers use their songs
in their films, book companies suggest their filmmaking
books be appraised, companies volunteer discounts for our
readers, nationally published authors contribute original
articles, national talent agencies choose to watch our best-critiqued
films, arthouse theaters want to show our Editor's Choices,
and comic companies ally with us to give no-budget filmmakers
a chance at comic franchises and professional storyboarding.
folks have come to the 'cauldron' and mentioned their fears
that the 'cauldron' might tip over or, eventually, be left
abandoned to dry out. I have explained to them that, while
nothing in life is certain, I don't foresee there being
a problem. For, as more people become involved in our filmmaking
stone soup, one day, when our arms get tired of stirring
the soup, we will pass the stirring stick on to the next
trained soup stirrers who will stir it for a time and we,
in turn, will simply eat the soup with everyone else. Then,
when those stirrers grow tired of stirring, they will simply
pass it on to the next stirrers in line.
in the end, when it comes down to the question: 'Who
do we think we are?' The answer is quite simple:
We're just a few stone-toting beggars who know how to cook.