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One of the Greatest Forces

The power of a successfully communicated thought, from one human mind to another, is one of the greatest forces we know. But like the tango, it takes two to communicate. You can communicate a thought, but your thought may not be understood. In some cases, your thought may not even reach the proper target. That’s why it pays to ask questions to make certain that people understand what you are saying. The great movie maker, Cecil B. DeMille would agree.

DeMille was making one of his great epic movies. He had six cameras at various points to pick up the overall action and five other cameras set up to film plot developments involving the major characters. The large cast had begun rehearsing their scene at 6 a.m. They went through it four times and now it was late afternoon. The sun was setting and there was just enough light to get the shot done. DeMille looked over the panorama, saw that all was right, and gave the command for action.

One hundred extras charged up the hill; another hundred came storming down the same hill to do mock battle. In another location Roman centurions lashed and shouted at two hundred slaves who labored to move a huge stone monument toward its resting place.

Meanwhile the principal characters acted out, in close-up, their reactions to the battle on the hill. Their words were drowned out by the noise around them, but the dialogue was to be dubbed in later.

It took fifteen minutes to complete the scene. When it was over, DeMille yelled, “Cut!” and turned to his assistant, all smiles. “That was great!” he said.

“It was, C.B.,” the assistant yelled back. “It was fantastic! Everything went off perfectly!”

Enormously pleased, DeMille turned to face the head of his camera crew to find out if all the cameras had picked up what they had been assigned to film. He waved to the camera crew supervisor.

From the top of the hill, the camera supervisor waved back, raised his megaphone, and called out, “Ready when you are, C.B!”

Bits & Pieces, May 27, 1993, pp.15-17