If you know anything about me, or are currently reading this blog post on my page, you know that I love film. I adore it. I live and breathe it. So much to the point that I’ve dedicated a part of my life to it in that I am double-majoring in film as well as making short films of my own. In a gesture of shameless self-promotion, here is my very first short film, Like A Complete Unknown. It’s low quality, full of shaky camera work, and held a low budget (hence it featuring mostly one actor, no sound, and filmed on an iPhone). It was far from perfect, but it was something that my friends and I created from something that I wrote. There is no better feeling than creating something and seeing it finished. Below is the short film.
And this is its trailer.
I am currently putting the finishing touches on my next project, Smash House. Here is the trailer.
My current attempts at filmmaking certainly aren’t the best. But with each new project brings more experience and more knowledge to apply for the next project. Though this dream of having a career in film is beginning to consume my life, it hasn’t been lifelong. I had an obsession with Disney movies when I was younger – to be perfectly honest, that obsession never went away. Those movies obviously in a way introduced me to what a movie was, but they didn’t inspire me to pursue film. In fact, there wasn’t just one movie that inspired me to pursue film. There certainly weren’t only ten either, but for time’s sake, this list will consist of the top ten. Without further ado, here are ten films that made me film, or ten films that inspired me to pursue film. Note: this is not a list of my favorite films, nor am I saying one of these films is better than the other (of course, some are. But not in this order). The order of these films coincides with how much of an effect they had on me.
10. The Shining (1980) Dir. Stanley Kubrick
This may not have influenced me cinematically at first, but it did influence my taste in film and introduced me to my now-favorite (and arguably one of the most important) directors of all time, Stanley Kubrick. A couple watches later and it is now one of my all time favorites – and maybe even my favorite work of his.
9. The Seventh Seal (1957) Dir. Ingmar Bergman
One of the more recent films I’ve watched, The Seventh Seal questions religion, life, death, and what comes after it. It taught me that films don’t just need to have an interesting storyline, but that they can make you think, as well.
8. The Godfather (1972) Dir. Francis Ford Coppola
I had an obsession with The Godfather the first time I watched it…or the first couple times I watched it. I loved everything about it; the family honor, the betrayal of it, and an example of what power can do to a once noble man. This film introduced me to another great, Francis Ford Coppola, along with teaching me just how masterfully (technically and visually) a story could be told.
7. Rear Window (1954) Dir. Alfred Hitchcock
This was the first film I watched solely because of the director (a practice I continue religiously to this day). It was hard not to have heard of Hitchcock and I stumbled upon a marathon of his films while in middle school. I instantly fell in love with them and, though I wouldn’t realize it for a while, film.
6. Breathless (1960) Dir. Jean-Lic Godard
If there’s one thing I like (if it’s done right), it’s films that mainly feature interesting characters having interesting conversations. As a writer who exceedingly appreciates dialogue, I love movies like Breathless. Not only that, but it was my first foray into the work of Godard and into new territory known as foreign film.
5. Taxi Driver (1976) Dir. Martin Scorsese
I took interest in film in my early teens, especially the ones that were considered “the best”. Taxi Driver was always on “the best movies” lists, so I decided to give it -and by “it” I mean the edited TV version – a try. At that time, I mainly watched Adam Sandler-esque (cringe) comedies. Needless to say, Taxi Driver was a breath of fresh air…or fresh air knocked out of me. It taught me how different films could be and that there is no set formula for making one.
4. The Graduate (1967) Dir. Mike Nichols
Another film I watched early, this time for the sole reason of my dad telling me that it had the greatest movie ending ever. After watching, I full-heartedly agreed, but I loved the film, too. It taught me that previously recorded music could sound like it was composed specifically for the film when applied to the right scene. It also taught me how a great ending can affect the whole film. I cannot stress enough: BEST MOVIE ENDING EVER. I WILL FIGHT FOR THIS.
3. Good Will Hunting (1997) Dir. Gus Van Sant
Good Will Hunting is another one of those movies where nothing particularly major happens, but the characters drive the story. I think what impressed me so much about this film was that it wasn’t written by “professional” script-writers. It was written my Matt Damon and Ben Affleck (through some help, no doubt). But the fact that these two young actors who had never had professional writing credit before could come up with some of this amazing dialogue, especially the park scene, amazes me.
2. The Dark Knight (2008) Christopher Nolan
This may be an odd addition to the list, but it’s for good reason (other than the fact that I’m a one hundred perfect Nolan fan boy). In a world of bland and formulaic superhero films, The Dark Knight stands similarly to its subject: at the top, looking down at its “peers”. This was the first film in which I noticed what a director could do. I took note of the timing, cinematography, sound, everything. It led the way for me into filmmaking and the rest of Nolan’s works.
1. Garden State (2004) Dir. Zach Braff
Probably another odd space on the list, but I cannot stress enough how much Garden State influenced me. This was to me what Annie Hall was to so many other filmmakers. Like Good Will Hunting, I was impressed that the screenwriter had more than one job: he was also star and director. And he was Zach Braff. Not only did I identify with this movie, I felt like if Braff could make this film (though he had the lead on Scrubs, he had to find the funding for this film himself), I could make one, too. It made me realize that you don’t have to be a professional write, act, or direct. It made me realize that I could make films and that I could start now.