Archive for April, 2009

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“The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of…” Part I

April 27, 2009

Film seems to have always played a major role in my life, whether or not I realized it at the time.  As I look back on my life growing up, I can see that now. I can remember as a child when my parents would take me to the theater to watch whatever caught my attention at the time, whether it be the latest animated film or the latest action blockbuster. I can also remember my parents taking me to the local video rental store (back before the days of Blockbuster, Netflix, etc.) to pick up a VHS copy of whatever I wanted to watch back when I had a weird fascination with horror films.  Fortunately I grew up with parents that didn’t really care what films I watched. I suppose people just didn’t care as much about those things in the 80’s and early 90’s.  I like to think I turned out just fine.

As I grew older, I wanted to get out and go to the theater more often. Of course, my parents thought I was too young to go by myself and for awhile it was always a battle to get them to take me as often as I wanted to go.  Finally, they gave in and just started dropping me off.  I suppose it began as a way to get out of the house and away from the parents and meet up with friends.  The last film I can remember my parents actually staying for was Forrest Gump.  That was when I was in 8th grade.

Eventually it became an obsession. There was rarely a week up until the time I graduated high school that I couldn’t be found at the local theater.  I couldn’t tell you now whether or not it was a developing love of film or just something to do in the small town I grew up in, but I would like to attribute it to the former.

It was when I first watched the original Star Wars Trilogy during my 7th grade year (it actually may have been my 8th grade year) that film slowly began to take on a different meaning for me, although the realization had yet to dawn on me.  Star Wars: A New Hope was airing on TV one night and I sat down to watch it with my dad.  I remember it was shortly before Thanksgiving and they were airing all three films over the course of the next few nights.  I had never seen any of them, though for a long time growing up I often confused Spaceballs with Star Wars.  I remember first hearing about the Force and my dad telling me during a commercial break that he interpreted the Force as being a reference to God.  I can’t say that I agree with his interpretation, looking back, but I can definately see where he was coming from.  I think I fell asleep somewhere around the time of the Death Star assault.  I proceeded to watch the next two Star Wars films over the course of the next few nights, wrapping the series up by watching Return of the Jedi in the guest bedroom at my grandmother’s house in Cincinnati while visiting for Thanksgiving as we did every year back in those days.  I enjoyed the films and eventually went back and watched the first one without falling asleep.  That was my first brush with the subject of religion and film.

I think things began to take shape at that point.  I had always had an abundance of creative energy inside of me, and growing up I often spent a lot of my time writing.  Eventually some friends had talked me into giving roleplaying games a try.  I humored them and gave it a chance, but I wouldn’t say I was ever really hardcore about it or anything.  Most roleplaying games back then were of the fantasy genre, and that just wasn’t really my thing (though I did later thoroughly enjoy the Lord of the Rings films).  I think it was about that time that I had ventured into the world of Star Wars novels, beginning with Timothy Zahn’s Heir to the Empire, which still to this day remains one of my favorite works of fiction.  Also around that time, I had discovered that there existed a Star Wars roleplaying game.  Now that struck my interest.  It allowed me to expend those creative energies, entertain my friends, and dabble around in the rich universe that George Lucas had created.  I know, I was a nerd, right?

Fast forward a few years.  The year was 1999.  It was Christmas.  I had just received my first DVD player and my first DVD.  A little film known as The Matrix.  I had never made it to the theater to see that movie, but I had wanted to.  I had also heard that it was the perfect film for this bizarre new digital format known as DVD.  So, not long after getting the DVD player hooked up, I popped in the DVD and sat down to watch it with my dad.

I think Neo said it best when he said, “Whoah…”  I was completely amazed at the special effects as the Wachowski brothers combined their love of kung fu, gunplay, Japanese anime, philosophy, and comic books into this amazing work of art.  Again, back then all I saw was the surface layer, but it left a seed that would grow over time.

Fast forward a couple more years.  2001.  I can’t say that I kept up my schedule of going to the theater on a weekly basis during my college years, but I still went somewhat regularly.  Over the course of the next year, things really began to change in terms of my outlook on film.  Star Wars fanfilms began to spring up all over the internet and I watched a short film known as Duality for the first time.  I was amazed that some amateur filmmaker could create something that looked so convincing.  I was intrigued and I really started to research and take an interest in how films were made.  I dabbled with my first non-linear editing system back then and realized that I really wanted to create.

In the same year, I began dating a girl who loved old films. Black and white films.  At that particular point in my life, I couldn’t fathom how anyone could enjoy something so old and primitive compared to what we have in the present.  And of course, like any good boyfriend, I agreed to sit down and watch some of them with her.  And what do you know?  I actually ended up enjoying some of them.  I especially enjoyed the old Humphrey Bogart movies.

One of my favorite Bogey films was John Huston’s 1941 film The Maltese Falcon.  It remains one of my personal all-time favorites.  There is a line in that film that has really stuck with me over the years.  Those of you who are film buffs have no doubt figured out what it is.  It is the title of this blog; it is the title of this post: “The stuff dreams are made of.”  Okay, I admit, the line itself didn’t originally come from this film; it was derived from a line in William Shakespeare’s The Tempest.  But that doesn’t make it any less relevant.

You see, I’ve always fancied myself somewhat of a dreamer.  I’ve always been extremely creative and eventually that creative energy turned into wanting to make films.  Not that I ever really lived any of that dream, though I have written a few screenplays.  Some people tell me I should actually do something with some of them.  The truth is…I wouldn’t know where to begin.

I’ll discuss in more detail my later college years and my post-college years in part two of this entry, as it’s getting a bit long-winded at the moment.

Until next time…

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