Cantor’s Theorem: The Movie
A short film about the famous diagonal method of Cantor
|Source: “One Water”|
Ed Talavera is the chair of the Department of Cinema and Interactive Communication in the University of Miami School of Communication. He is an award-winning cinematographer and director of narrative and documentary feature films. His work has aired on HBO, Showtime, Cinemax, and theaters worldwide. He was the cinematographer for a wonderful film about food that aired on DirecTV, “Mistura.” The film is about how a food festival unites the diverse nation of Peru, but what we notice in the trailer is the food. Gorgeous food.
Today Ken and I wish to announce a new film directed by Ed on Cantor’s Theorem.
We were the scriptwriters, Ed was the producer and director, and his team of students were the actors and crew. Our film is a 7-minute “short,” and you can skip our comments and go directly to see it via YouTube right here or Vimeo at links below. You won’t see it at the Cannes Film Festival, but perhaps it will make the Canes Film Festival, which Ed directs.
It’s Not A Course Video
The usual video-based course is a film of an instructor talking and writing at a board or on a tablet computer. These courses are popular among students, at least partially because they are free. The videos are informative, although it is yet unclear whether they are as good or better than physical courses. You know—course with students in seats and an instructor talking and interacting with them. We will see.
The GLL philosophy is always to do things in a novel manner. After all both of us believe that factoring is easy, and one believes that is possible. Our approach to video based courses has been to be different, not just to film a lecture, but to do something else. Indeed to express this philosophy, several of our draft scripts begin with the end of a lecture. It is possible that this will become an “invariant” like several we have for style on this blog.
Our plan is to make a mini-series length course with characters who have issues, who follow an interesting story line—vampires?—and yet are able to convey the information we want the students to learn. Our view is to create a new type of film: not a documentary, not a docudrama, not a dry lecture. A mixture of fiction and information.
In order to make this happen Ken and I have started to write movie scripts. We are not experts at writing anything, and are rank novices at writing scripts. At GLL we never let something like this stop us from trying, so we have been busy writing a pilot script for our series. The script is available for those who might want to help us see if it is on track.
If you wish us to state the series’ theme in 25 words or fewer, we might try:
What important parts of our lives depend on what we know about numbers with hundreds of digits, and other parts of theory?
We want to get people excited about the concepts, and to know about “factors” affecting how the applications operate and when they are safe. These include secure commerce, online social systems, handheld and sensing devices, and certain numerical applications.
The test of whether we are on to something cool or wasting our time is best determined by seeing at least a pilot film. We have tried to get help—we may be able to hack out a plausible script—but we have no idea how to make a film. Enter Ed. Dick met Ed last year and explained the basic idea to him. He immediately was excited and said:
Let’s make a movie.
Our pilot script for the mini-series itself was too long, and had many actors and many scenes. So following Ed’s suggestion we wrote a much shorter script about Cantor’s Theorem. This is the script that Ed filmed this past December in Miami.
Ken and I were both there, and were thrilled to see the production aspects of film-making. It is a very cool experience. Three Miami students acted, and three others formed the crew. The scenes were filmed in reverse order of occurrence in the script, so we started at 8am in one of the university area’s best-known bars. We gave the actors space and left all details to Ed’s direction, but we interacted a fair bit with the crew, including being fascinated by the second-by-second positioning of a large arm-held microphone to obtain accurate sound. It seems statistically impossible that you don’t see this microphone in any of the frames, but Ed knows his camera.
The result is the film that is now on Vimeo and YouTube. We hope you like it. Full credits to the actors and crew members, whom we thank for their eye-opening efforts, are listed at the Vimeo links (click “see all”): mobile, SD, and HD.
The main open problem is: should we continue to go in this direction? Should we continue going in this direction of fiction and instructional films? What do you think? Is it two thumbs up? Or not?
One last point is, what do a director and a producer do? Maggie Smith in Gosford Park says:
They’re rather a mixed bunch. That Mr. Weissman’s very odd. Apparently, he produces motion pictures. The Charlie Chan Mysteries. Or does he direct them? I never know the difference.
Our apologies to Ed, since I think we now know the difference. Thanks to Ed for doing both jobs so well.