The 85th Academy Awards ceremony is coming up on February 24, and in honor, this week, we’re sharing a quote from famous cinematographer Conrad Hall. Hall received three Academy Awards for Best Cinemetography for his films Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, American Beauty, and Road to Perdition, as well as having several of his other films nominated for awards throughout his career.
Conrad Hall’s words help remind me of something important– you don’t have to have a Hollywood office or an expensive computer to create something wonderful. In fact, like Conrad Hall, some of the best work I’ve ever produced came from sitting at home, by myself, at the dining room table. Needless to say, I don’t have any Oscars under my belt like Conrad Hall, but I think the sentiment is still important. The dining room table is generally seen as a place for friends and family to gather for a meal, but just because that’s what we use dining tables for most often doesn’t mean they’re not great for other things, too. I see my table as a place where ideas are born and shared, whether it’s through conversations over dinner, or my inner monologue as I hash out ideas while I’m surrounded by stacks of papers and research.
When I was a kid, I used to do my homework at the dining room table every night. I had a perfectly fine desk in my bedroom, but I usually chose to sit at the dining table. Some nights, it was because I needed space to spread out my books, and the dining room table was big enough (and cleared off enough) for me to see everything at once. Some nights, I just wanted to be near my mom while she was cooking dinner. Other nights, I would just sit at the table and remember conversations my family had had over meals. I’d stare intently at the placemats I’m certain had been in the family for years until it was time for dinner. And even now that I’m grown up, I still find myself gravitating towards my dining table when I hit a slump with work.
It may not be conventional, but I’m sure glad Conrad Hall was able to remind me, and hopefully you, that the dining table is more than just a surface for your plate– it’s where the magic happens!