On February 26th, MP editor-in-chief, Alisha Grauso created a pretty great article titled 'Dear Movies... Love, Me'. The article has motivated me to make a similar piece. One about my life and how films and television have helped shape me into the man I am today! Together, we will dive deep into the very center of my subconscious! We will take a journey through memory lane, taking many stops to sidetrack avenue and the wild jungle of imagination aboard the train of thought! We may even lose it a few times! So get ready for a tale of action, comedy, valor, nostalgia, and countless anthropomorphic animals!
The Year Is 1998!
Clinton was president and the world was simpler; cellphones were a rather new concept and Justin Timberlake was still known as "the ramen-noodled haired one from N'Sync"! I was born in [insert exact city or hospital name here], California! I lived with my mother, my father, my aunt, my uncle, my grandmother and my grandfather. Those were just the adults! There were also my little sisters and my cousin! Our living space was essentially Full House with a different cast.
Fast Forward To 2002
Like Alisha's, my story contains VHS tapes; four to be exact. I was a young boy, about three or four, glasses bigger than my head and hair frizzy and "afro-like" enough for a entire flock of birds to establish a new colony in it. My mom had gotten a VHS player, and with it, came four VHS tapes. The first two were the ones that would occupy my television set for the next couple of years: Barney: Once Upon A Time and Barney: ABC's! Barney soon became my best friend as a young child. Embarrassing thing to say now, but back then, every kid wanted to be a part of Barney's crew! Just ask Selena Gomez and Demi Lovato.
I would watch those tapes every day, several times a day! Ironically, Barney: Once Upon A Time is what got me fascinated in the Fantasy genre. To this day, I still remember the plot of that tape. The other two tapes were movies. The first was The Lion King, this film was probably in the possession of every VHS tape owning family back then. It was the first Disney movie I'd ever seen, I'm pretty sure (Barney isn't Disney right?). Then I had Back to the Future. This! This movie is what got me hooked! Hooked to movies, hooked to VHS and hooked to the screen! The adventures of Marty McFly were enough to make my young, impressionable and easily distracted mind thinking all day! Now, in hindsight, BttF probably isn't the best film for a four year old to have. But hey, I was young, anything inappropriate flew over my head anyway.
Fast Forward Once More! A Year Later!
It's 2003 and for the first time, I'm going to see a movie in theaters! I mean, I'm sure I've seen them before, but it was when I was three or younger, when I didn't have the brainpower nor the attention span to really know what was going on. This time, I was five! The recognitive power of the brain gets a huge surge in power at the age of five, for some reason. Don't quote me on that, I'm not a scientist or anything like it. Anyway, me, my mom and my dad were on our way to the theater. It was probably an AMC, but it could have very well been any other theater. AMC's were just common during my childhood; there'd be one in practically every mall or store complex. We were going to see Disney Pixar's Finding Nemo! The first movie in my long and more-or-less strong relationship with Disney and Pixar. Seeing a movie on that huge screen blew any other movie-watching experience I experienced out of the water (pun intended)! I remember wishing I could see Back to the Future like this!
[Note: I was finally able to see BttF in theaters last year thanks to "Tuesday Night Classics" at Harkins Theaters. It was an enjoyable experience!]
That same year, around Christmas time, ABC Family was having it's yearly '25 Days of Christmas' special. On what I believe was the last or second to last day, they decided to have a huge marathon of Xmas films; starting at night and ending the next morning. Thinking about it now, I don't really get why they would do that. Christmas films were usually for children and families right? So why would you have a marathon all night long? What family or child would stay up for that?! Well apparently, the answer for that was me and my little sister. We stayed up until the sun rose, watching Xmas classics like How The Grinch Stole Christmas (the cartoon one), Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and The Santa Claus (Tim Allen always cracked me up back then)! This was my first movie marathon and I still remember it to this day! Trying to stay up wasn't hard at all thanks to my unstoppable and never quitting adolescent energy!
After my first movie marathon, I was forever drawn to the wonderful world of cinema. Everyone has their genre preference. Back then, and even sort of to this day, mine was fantasy. Simply because as a kid, I had a very impressionable mind. Watching these stories of fantasy brought to me a sense of wonder and magic! It didn't matter how my day was going, a good VHS tape could always clear the rain. And it wasn't just fantasy films that dealt with knights and castles, or dragons and damsels in distress. Fantasy, in my opinion, is any movie that has a whimsical plot that endears the viewer. Something that makes us go "Wow, I wish that could happen to me". One such film was one I got from my Grandfather, called Space Jam!
Now, say what you will about the absurdity of this movie. I agree that a film that's premise is basically just "the Looney Tunes and NBA star Michael Jordan play a basketball game against a group of aliens" is insane and most certainly only exists because Warner Bros. would be able to cash in a fat check. But there is something about this movie that I enjoy even to this day. I mean, I'm not sure what it is exactly. Here you have the Looney Tunes, which occupied my screen for a good portion of my childhood life (along with the aforementioned Barney) in a full-length feature film, and they're challenging a band of aliens in a game of five-on-five for their freedom! Not the most fantastical of plots and certainly a big Michael Jordan publicity stunt. But I think what makes it so good to me is that I watched it at such a young age.
Movies are impressionable; more so than anyone thinks. The movies we watch as kids shape who we are and have a big part in our lives. They help in shaping us into the people we'll become and even aid in the decisions we'll make in life, to an extent.
But the one genre, excluding Fantasy, because though Fantasy is one of my favorites it didn't so much shape my life; just my sense of wonder. Anyway, the one genre that really made a big difference in my life, was the superhero genre. I had already been a big comic book fan by the time Spider-Man 2 came around, so I already expected to go in there happy and come out ecstatic! Me and my Grandmother, another Spider-Fan in the family, went to the movies to see the sequel to Sam Raimi's genre defining blockbuster! Which by the way, I had NEVER heard of! How is that I, the biggest Spider-Man fanatic in the world (Alisha I am ready to challenge you on that) did not know about the movie that was said to make not only Spider-Man movies popular, but the whole superhero genre in general?! Regardless, we went to see the movie and it BLEW MY MIND. It was the first time I'd ever seen a superhero movie! Sure, I'd seen some animated ones on TV before, but this one was almost two hours long and live-action! That same day, I got the first Spider-Man film on DVD and wore it out.
Superhero movies soon became my favorite type. And they taught me a few lessons. You can achieve whatever you're going for! You just need to make the most of the life you've been given and use your powers to your advantage. Now, "powers" doesn't mean super speed or web-slinging obviously, it means practicing whatever it is you need to learn to become what you want to become. You can go from a down on your luck photographer to a web-slinging superhero (metaphorically speaking of course) if you work hard enough for it. The storytelling behind movies, the characters, the plot; everything about a movie got me excited! So I honed my "powers" of acting so that I could be in a beloved film one day! I challenged my skills of writing so that I could write a script or a successful novel one day! Now, I'm closer to where I want to be!
I write on Moviepilot, I'm working on a screenplay and though I haven't done much acting, I'm confident in my abilities to do so! The point is, don't give up on whatever it is you want to do. An whether or not you want to be an actor, or a screenwriter or a director etc; the movies/TV you watch or grow up on reflects the very person that you are!
So thanks Hollywood for all the awesome stories, now it's time for me to make my own!
[Editor's Note: Listen me, that's an incredibly cheesy and unoriginal line to end on. Change it.]
[Author's Note: Oh yeah, yeah I'll totally...get around to that.]