Christian Long

J.J. Abrams: Mystery Box

In TED Talks on April 19, 2010 at 10:08 am

Reflection by KEITH C.

Original TED page w/ speaker bio, links, comments, etc:

J.J. Abrams:  Mystery Box

At the beginning of the video, J.J. talks about his inspirations and why he is so drawn to mysteries. He starts by introducing his grandfather and explaining how much of influence he had on him. His grandfather would always open up electronics and show them to J.J. Well just like any other kid, J.J. took great interest in these type of things and this really shaped the way he is today. J.J. also began to enjoy learning how different objects and electronics functioned. He also mentions his curiosity towards boxes and how he loved to unfold them.

At one point he shows the crowd a tissue box that he had unfolded and brought in his bag. You appreciate just the utter amazement J.J. has towards these type of things and start to understand what drives him to make the movies and TV shows.

Later on during the video J.J. talk about his grandfather not only sparked his curiosity towards mystery, he supplied him with many things to feed this new found imagination of his.

He then tells a story about how when he was only ten, he begged his grandfather to get him a “super A” camera. At this time you would had to have been a very privileged boy to get a gift of this magnitude. J.J. then makes a joke about how he need that camera because one day he was going to make movies and get invited to TED someday.

I know that he was not being serious and only made that comment for some comic relief, but I honestly think that it is little starters like this that will that will begin the start of a kids career. I am not saying that without that camera he would never have been a film maker, but I believe that it helped. Once he got that camera he can only progress from there and gain more knowledge along the way.

This small bit of this video shows the viewers something that we have all seen in stories about people that achieve great accomplishments. Everyone starts out small. Writer, director, and producer J.J Abrams, started out with just a little camera.

J.J. goes on to talk about how his grandfather would also feed his curiosity for magic. Him and his grandfather would go to a little magic shop. In this magic shop he bought this “magic box.” J.J. was frequently ask himself why he kept this box, and why he hadn’t opened it. After pondering why he still had this box in his possession, he realized that this box represents his grandfather and how important he is to him. To J.J. the box represents infinite possibility and hope. J.J. say that this box is so amazing because he believes that mystery if the catalyst for imagination. Something that is mysterious ands something that is unknown is often the thing that people will spend so much time and effort trying to figure out whatever that is.

J.J then starts to talk about how he began to create the TV show, “Lost.”

He explains how he only had eleven weeks to get the show up and running. Since there was such little time, there was time for people to tell him he couldn’t do and what he needed to change. At this point I realized that this is why Lost is so unlike any TV show I had ever seen before. Anyone that watches the show knows the endless amount of cliffhangers and situations that leave you uncomfortably waiting just to see the next episode that will do the same thing. It really makes me wonder what a lot of the shows what have been like if some editor hadn’t shut them down.

After watching the short clip from Lost J.J. explains how much technology has advanced. It is just amazing the things that can be done with video and photography. He goes on to talk about a blank page is like a mystery box in itself. There are endless amounts of thing that can be done with that blank page. He relates this thought with how his Apple computer challenges him to make great stories.

J.J. points out how the scenes that you remember and love in moving are the ones that don’t even support the whole idea of the movie. For example he talks about Jaws, and how some of the most dramatic and memorable scenes don’t even have a shark in it. J.J. then has a major realization of how the technology that he used to make his movies is now helping sell new technology.

After J.J shows a couple homemade videos, he talks about the technology to make movies is now available to everyone.

What was once very hard to get your hands on, is now something that everyone can experience. Then he makes a point that I think is very important. He says, “No community is best served when only the elite have control.” If only the elite had access to this type of technology, creativity would diminish.

This point he made reminds me of something that happened way before video production.

Gutenberg’s printing press is what come to my mind when J.J. said that. All the technology of video making is no where near a major as the ability to print books easier faster and cheaper, it is the same principle. Before the invention of his printing press only the wealthy was own books, and hardly any at best. The majority of books were strictly religious. Only the Clergy owned a copy of the bible and everyone had to trust they way that the Clergy interpreted it. Although once the printing press was invented, a lay public were able to read and interpret the bible in there own ways. The press also made it much easier to spread ideas, religious or intellectual.


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