In film school, there’s a lot of introduction action. New professors, new students, new classes, new, new, new. And with every new, I give the same little, inarticulate tale of who I am and how I came to be there. Now what’s truly terrible about these interludes, is the dreaded follow-up question: “what’s your favorite movie?” That’s not to say that movies are dreaded (I am in film school after all), but do you know how hard it is to pick a favorite one? It’s like picking a favorite child – bad example, since my mom would pick me easily. 🙂
This question is stressful. “I should pick something everyone likes, right? Or at least make it a high art film, if one exists. Anything from the AFI list… Just don’t go rom-com.” My thoughts run rapidly, and I’m stuck.
“What’s the film that made you want to be a screenwriter?” The professor usually thinks this question will help me answer, but really, it just sets me back further. And I find myself wondering, honestly, what was the cinematic experience that made me want to do this? The movie that spoke to my heart and said, “this is where you belong.” Wouldn’t that be crazy if movies could speak to your heart? (writing in moleskin now)
Was it Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken or Pete’s Dragon or Free Willy? Atlantic City! Mickey Rooney! Sa la na, a yuum, iasis! I certainly loved them. I certainly remember them. But really, Wild Hearts just made me want a horse, Pete’s led me to develop my own “imaginary friend” (who was a horse thanks to WHCBB), and Free Willy shaped my future career dreams as a marine biologist for the next blah-blah-still-halfway-a-dream years.
Or couldn’t/shouldn’t the film that made me want to do film be super epic? Like seeing Citizen Kane for the first time? Rosebud! Maybe not Citizen Kane. You can’t hurt me later, but I find it to be the most boring movie I’ve ever sat through more than once.
But It’s A Wonderful Life? Clarence! Clarence! ZuZu’s petals! Surely that film is both epic enough and one that had a huge impact, right? I mean, it makes me speak in a James Stewart accent for at least three days out of each year. That’s something, right?
Or could it be the time I saw Click? Yes, the Adam Sandler movie. After watching it I thought, “I just have to be a part of making people laugh like that.” Or Dumb and Dumber or Tommy Boy? Movies that shaped most of the dialogue I share with my brothers. Oh, Richard. Harry, your hands are freezing.
Or watching Sleepless in Seattle and You’ve Got Mail with my mom? And the experience of witnessing a woman who can’t remember the name of a movie she’s seen the day before (love you!), suddenly recall every Ephron-infused line. It was… magic! Shriveled little legs! I wanted it to be you!
Or maybe going through the Indiana Jones and Star Wars lineup with my dad? Watching epic worlds unfold right before my eyes.
Or the coolest moment of my life, when my chic older sister took me (the annoying little one) to see Princess Diaries at a sneak preview?
Or watching Prancer with my whole family as the Christmas tree lights tinkle in the reflection of the screen.
Or maybe it’s all of them. Movies hold memories. I remember seeing Austin Powers: Goldmember in theaters not because of the movie (trust me), but because I met a very good friend that night and we talked through the whole thing. Calm down, it was a theater full of middle schoolers.
Is it the fact that Free Willy, a movie, made me believe that I wanted to work with orcas without ever being around one? Isn’t that power magical? Isn’t that, combined with every movie that holds a place in my heart, the reason I wanted to be a part of making them?
Now, the question is, how do I make that into a one-word answer? Maybe I’ll just go with Citizen Kane.