Beyond “The End”

For most of my teen years and all of my adult life I have been a dedicated watcher of movie credits. My reasons are many and have evolved over the years.

First among them, at the end of the movie, I don’t want the experience to end. Staying for the credits lets me float in that movie’s bubble for just a few minutes longer. The moments while the credits roll by usually provide a sort of transitional space for me, almost like an airlock I need to go through in order to rejoin the real world after the movie. Sitting there, still in the dark, I can relive my favorite parts of the movie, reflect on what the characters or scenes meant to me. And on how the experience has already changed me or my perspective. Sometimes it takes me until the middle of the credits to begin to process the words I’m seeing on the screen.

It is in this moment that I begin to read the credits beyond the cast and director’s names. I look deeper and begin to think about the people, their jobs and their creative skills that brought them to appear in carefully crafted typography in front of us.

Naturally, I always want to read the names of the costume designers and wardrobe crew. Costume design, after all, is a direct influence on my own work. Set design and staging also fascinates me as a designer and artist.  And the music in most movies is so important that I’m willing to wait and see the song credits–almost always near the end of the credits list. I usually end up seeking out the soundtrack on Spotify, while still in the theater, to add to my rotation of playlists.

Let’s not forget, too, that if you are a Marvel Movie fan, there are usually bonus scenes and teasers during or after the credits. And many movies have magnificent art throughout the credits. Some have hidden words, messages or even animations of characters popping up at random. A well crafted movie will include messages, inside jokes and some gorgeous graphics.

But beyond and behind all the razzle-dazzle of Hollywood creativity and bonus material there is so much more to consider!

Even without the glitz and glamour, the end credits tell a story, many stories, depending on how you read them.

There are hundreds of names scrolling there on the screen. To dismiss them is to dismiss hundreds of people and their thousands of tasks that fit together into the great puzzle that is the movie you just enjoyed. Hours and hours of work. by hundreds of people. People with their own lives, their own stories and dreams. Often there are credit notes dedicating the movie to someone who died during the filming, or before the script was even imagined. Deeper into the credits, and no less important, are names of crew members who were lost during the making of the movie. Sometimes cherished pets are even listed and honored.  Even deeper into the credits, I’ve begun seeing lists of babies born during a movie’s creation. Imagine what stories might lie within that list alone. And then imagine what some of those babies may grow up to be, to do, to create in our world. What a birth announcement!

New industries are launched as a credit in a movie sometimes. Consider Skywalker Sound and Industrial Light and Magic–two companies who came out of a tiny film on a low budget in the 1970’s. George Lucas had to create his own sounds and effects because there was nothing in existence to do what was needed. Now you’d be hard pressed to find any major motion pictures without at least some mention of both companies in the credits. But their birth stories are wrapped up in the making of Star Wars. History was made, babies and companies were born.

The credits of a single movie contain the hopes and dreams, beginnings and endings of hundreds of people. There are seeds of books and movies contained there too, waiting to grow and be nurtured and shared, complete with a soundtrack and setting! It’s all right there in the credits. There is always more beyond “The End”.

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