Hi, my name is Chad. You probably know me from such blog posts as "Making it Complex" and "Bummer Summer: Bright Eyes is really depressing guys..." and "Bummer Summer: Spiritualized's 'Ladies and Gentlemen We are Floating Through Space' is the story of every ex-girlfriend I've ever had." or from such hits as "Let Me Rant About Dave Eggers and Beasts of the Southern Wild for a Bit and relate it to my life, like that one homeless guy who stayed outside of John Lennon's house for weeks and weeks and thought that 'Carry That Weight' was about him". OR for this - because Dylan is just a nice guy who has decided to let myself and my roommate take over "The Projection List", which is utterly amazing. So, we figured it might be nice to share some experiences we've had with films, our favorite films and our career goals, which have to do with films; or something like that.
So, where do I begin? Well, when I was a child, I happened to be a sick child (Double Outlet Right Ventricle, Situs Inversus) which meant I could get out of school pretty easy. And since I hated school--even early on, I did, a lot. I would admittedly use that illness, so that I could go home and watch movies. Which I did, a lot. I would even pretend that my stuffed animals and I were hosting a movie marathon, to which I was the Johnny Carson. (I was obsessed with Johnny Carson as a child. In fact, because I was a sick kid I slept in my parent's room. And late at night, when they thought I was asleep, Carson's show would come on, to which I would scream, "HERE COMES JOHNNY!") So, I would play host as I watched TV and movies, especially movies and lay around all day. It was my respite from being the sick kid who just couldn't keep up with the kids in his class or his two brothers, one of whom was a year younger, and who could still kick my ass at almost everything.
It was an escape for me, from a lot of things. Worries that I remember and worries that thankfully I've all but forgotten. It was the place where great things could happen, where I wasn't a sick kid, who spent a childhood with wires strapped to his chest. Where I wasn't confined to a bed for weeks and weeks, waiting for the doctors to tell us we could go home. It was a place where I could play the hero, if only for a bit, within my own head. It's what gave me hope. It's what kept me going. It became my love. It became my drive. It became the outlet for everything positive I would do in my life from there on.
You see, because when I was a kid and I didn't see it back then, but there were many times when I felt weak and down and like going on wasn't possible. Times when, and this might get a bit uncomfortable for some of you, I was laid down on a table, a bucket of freezing cold water poured over my face to try to break an arrhythmia. A time when reality just became too scary. And so, much like Mia Farrow's character in The Purple Rose of Cairo, I escaped my scary, sad reality, and I found a new one, in film.
It was an escape that would lead to me wanting to become a cartoonist in grade school, and then later as I grew up and discovered how movies were made, a director. A goal that I'm still currently trying to reach. It's been the one thing in my life that's gotten me through some harsh times, cause when I just felt like things were too rough I'd always have a voice inside me saying, "Come on, get up, you've still got some more things to do." And those things were, writing screenplays, making movies, pushing forward and forward, never deciding to have a "backup" plan, because for me, there is no backup plan. This is what brought happiness to my life when I needed it, and as such, I need to return the favor to some kid somewhere out there who needs a reason to keep trying when everything inside him tells him that this life is just gonna be too hard. It was and it remains my one true love. And hopefully, it always will be. I'd say that, that is the sort of love that is necessary to spread on, right?
That being said I guess I could talk about some of my favorite movies. A list that changes every single time I look at it. But here are a few that remain constants.
1. Magnolia- Despite it's three hour plus running time, I've seen it over ten times. Actually I'm sure it's close to twenty times. And if it weren't for it's length it would be even more. I don't think it is P.T. Anderson's best film, but it is the one I connect to the most and it is the one that simply put makes me try harder. In fact, while conversing with a friend and fellow filmmaker he said that his goal as a filmmaker was to make a movie as beautiful as Magnolia. It was at this point that I decided I wanted him to film my first film, and when I decided not only would we be great friends, but that we were destined to make movies together. And thus far, with my roommate, that's exactly what we've done.
2. Shawshank Redemption- I know that this movie is kind of a cliche as a favorite. I mean, everybody loves this movie, right? But, I can't help but to put it on my list, because every time I see a scene from it, I immediately get the warm fuzzies. A lot of my favorite movies came from the 90's because I grew into my love for film throughout the 90's. Something that always kind of makes me feel nervous. Because I'm afraid serious film folks like myself will judge me for not having enough foreign films or black and white films on my list. And I love a lot of them, definitely. I could list them, but there's no point. I love this movie because it came at a time in my life when I needed it's message; that being perseverance in the face of mortality. This goes back to some of what I brought up earlier. It's a beautiful, beautiful film. And it's saved me from many a depression.
3. Royal Tenenbaums/Rushmore- I love football. And at the same time I simultaneously love bizarre films. As such, it's been a weird life wherein there is no real place to fit in. I hope that you get what I mean by that. Basically, it's hard to talk about Jim Brown and then to suddenly switch and start talking about Harold and Maude, just because you want to. Not a lot of people are up for that. And not a lot of people are up for Wes Anderson movies. Something my brother and I experienced at a friends house when, upon discovering that Royal Tenenbaums was on TV we forced our friends to watch it. And we laughed and laughed and quoted line after line as our friends stared at us like we were insane. I picked two because, well, I love both of these films almost equally. I think Rushmore is a better film, but I've seen Royal Tenenbaums more. They're beautiful, dark, hilarious and quirky. But they're not just all style and no substance. There is a lot of substance in these films. I've often found myself crying as Gene Hackman rides in the ambulance with Ben Stiller, his son, now redeemed. And whenever I feel the "next step" in life coming on, and I feel myself moving on from something big in my life, I watch Rushmore, or at least the final scene. And just that makes me feel happy about any change that could be coming my way.
4. All the Real Girls- I have a particular affinity for the South and for movies that take place in broken towns with broken characters. I think it came from holiday trips to see my aunt, who lives in North Carolina. That and the fact that I grew up in the middle of nowhere. Also, I've not had much luck with the womens. So, this movie was kind of made for me. But in all seriousness, beyond my self deprecation, this is a fantastic movie about growing up, and yes, dealing with heartbreak. When I went to shoot my first film I forced several people to watch this movie, as well as the director's first film, George Washington, since you know we were making a movie about a bunch of broken kids in a broken town.
5. E.T. The Extra Terrestrial- That childhood of watching movies I was talking about earlier, you remember that? Well, most of it was spent watching this movie over and over and over again. In fact I remember at a point during my childhood where I wondered if my stuffed Roger Rabbit was an alien sent here to protect me from other aliens who were trying to kill me, so that they could take over the planet. Because I guess, I figured I could stop them somehow. I was always pretending something, in fact I once made the pact with myself that I would spend every minute of my life pretending I was something. I know, embarrassing. Fortunately I grew out of that, or I think I'd be a much weirder guy. I was an imaginative kid, who spent full nights awake imagining what was lurking in the dark. In fact, to this day I hate being in a dark room by myself, because my brain still works that way. And it's that childhood filled with movies that led me to my current love, this movie being a major reason why that love grew to what it is today.
Tommy Boy- In my childhood I was quite the fan of comedy, and of SNL, another show my parents let me stay up to see, and this Farley classic, which I know pretty much every single line from it.
The 400 Blows- More stories about alienated youth. This Truffaut classic isn't just a really pretty film, it's an accurate document of youth, and youth searching for meaning in a world that they're trying desperately to understand.
Badlands- Malick is one of my favorite filmmakers, and his films often appear in my updated lists of favorites. But his debut, for me, is the one that gets to me the most. A beautiful, beautiful shot in so may ways.
The Shining- I have a soft spot in my heart for horror movies, and this Kubrick directed labyrinth is my favorite. I've always been more of a fan of dread, rather than of scares. Scares go away, dread doesn't.
The Graduate- I saw The Graduate at exactly the right time in my life. I had just graduated from high school and I had dreams in my head and love in my heart, but I was scared and didn't know how to put it all together. This movie set out for me the failures ahead and helped me realize that that failure was unavoidable and okay, in a weird way. We're all lost.
George Washington- Director David Gordon Green's debut (Director of All The Real Girls) is one of the finest movies of the 2000's. And it was made for 40,000 dollars. Which, yes, is a lot. But the man raised the money himself, well, most of it. And with that in mind I set to do the same, raising the few thousand bucks it took to make my first film. As for the film, well, it's a brilliant film about youth and loss, the likes of which has been told over and over again, but never with such brutal honesty.