Recently my buddy Ken Scholes blogged about the impact his favorite movies had on him and I realized I should probably do the same. Because movies and TV have hugely impacted not only how I tell stories but the kinds of stories I like and the fact I even have and want to tell stories.
You may or may not know I went to film school at Cal State Fullerton and graduated in 1992. I then spent four years working for a documentary film company and shopping spec scripts and screenplays. I did have one in development with producer Phil Nemy at Disney once, but nothing came of it for various reasons.
My whole love of scifi came from movies. I will never forget the time my cousin David said “We’re going to this movie, and you’ve just got to see it! I’ve already seen it like ten times.” Ten times seemed like an excessive amount of times to see a movie to me at age 8, but David was 9 and wiser, so I said “Sure. What’s it called?” “Star Wars!” “Star Wars?” Sounded kinda stupid to my 8 year old brain. But it blew my socks off. In fact, the battle on the rebel ship with black vested, blue shirted rebels fighting the evil white stormtroopers remains one of my all time favorite movie scenes. And of course, I loved the robots’ banter in the midst of it. The hero story of the awkward young kid who wanted more than life on a farm resonated with this kid from small town Kansas, and the adventure of life “out there” in the amazing world of the stars captured my imagination. Also, the battles, characters, aliens, etc. were so well done. It was real and popped off the screen for me.
After seeing “Star Wars,” which I have now seen way more than 10 times and David has seen several thousand times (I never caught up though I am surely close to 900 by now), I fell in love with the art of movies, story telling and science fiction. I began devouring scifi books as fast as I could read them. The first “Star Wars” tie-in, “Splinter Of A Mind’s Eye” by Alan Dean Foster made me an Alan Dean Foster fan and remains one of my favorite scifi novels.
But other movies influenced me too. “Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan” was powerful. In part, this was no doubt due to the fact it was so rewarding after the punishment of sitting through “Star Trek: The Motion Picture.” What was Roddenberry thinking? If anyone was in love with his own creation, it was Roddenberry. That movie proves it. I heard him speak once and he was “Star Treks” biggest fan, not that it didn’t have great qualities. But I loved the mix of humor, action, and drama in Khan, and the way they built on the series and the previously established relationships between characters to take it to a new level. Great space action, too. Plus the cameo by Ike Eisenmann of “Witch Mountain” (movies I’d loved from Disney) as Scotty’s nephew was cool.
“Wizard of Oz” was powerful for us. We saw it on TV regularly, but also replayed in theatres and various sequels in animation and live action. It was powerful story telling and characterization, and I’d always been a music fan so I loved that aspect as well.
I have never been a football fan. So my life changed one Super Bowl Sunday when my dad let us watch “The Hobbit,” an animated movie, instead of the Cowboys v. whomever. I loved “The Hobbit,” animation, songs and all. What a great storytelling, and after that I devoured the book and then the “Lord of The Rings” trilogy.
I caught “Planet of The Apes” as a TV movie presentation and just loved it. It really fascinated me as an image of the future. The animation of apes was pretty cool too for the time.
I loved action movies, especially “Lethal Weapon 2” and “Die Hard” for their mix of comedy, action and character in telling fun, fast paced stories.
“Green Card” was brilliant because it was made by Peter Weir, whose “Witness” and “Dead Poets Society” had so powerfully touched me. I loved the cross cultural aspect of “Green Card,” and no surprise, the prominence of music also played into it.
“Notting Hill” moved me because it’s such great story telling and well acted. I loved the humorous touches and surprises which kept it from being cliche and the prominence of books, too.
“Gandhi” amazed me. It was long and slow, yes, but so powerful as a story and character study and well acted with powerful messages.
“Chariots of Fire” also was powerful even though I struggled to understand all the British accents and found the crossed storylines confusing at times. I just loved the passion of the characters for their sport and especially how Eric Liddell stayed passionate about God in the midst of it.
My movie list could probably go on forever, so these are the ones that pop out at the moment as having significance at their time for particular storytelling styles and ways of moving me. I’m sure I’ll think of more later.
For what it’s worth…