I'd love to be in my career path, making movies for big names and eventually making my pass at the big time. I can feel it happening. I have this perceptual knowledge inside that drives me. I know I'm supposed to be more than I am. Yet, the biggest feelings I have currently are of loss. I feel so out-of-pocket at my job, with my family, with my friends.
What I rely on is film making. I am finding my identity in movies, and I hope I'm doing the right thing. When I've put together a movie and the week is over, I feel like I've done the right thing with my life and time. When I act and I spend time making movies behind the camera, I again have the feeling of accomplishment.
My work-related victories feel like a chore because they're not about film making. That's how much I love filming movies. I get excited when I think of pre-production of a film. I stay excited when I'm shooting a film. I may be a large man and the concept of large people is they move slow, but when I'm in "it", I'm quick-thinking and frenetic. I know this movement and feelings are all directly related to my love of film making. I spent my life in theaters with my parents. We watched movies in theaters a lot when I was a kid.
Several of my favorite memories are of being at Tandy 10 movie theater in North Little Rock, Arkansas for up to to ten hours a day, sometimes being there at open and staying to see movies until close. I did it several times when I was a kid, hosted by my mother, who loves movies and the experience of seeing movies in the theater, as well.
My mom wasn't using the quietness of movie theaters as a way to shut me up, we were there to study and to remark about what we saw. Most of the time, I had the freedom to see what I wanted to. I remember seeing Peter Jackson's The Frighteners in 1996. Click the title to see the trailer.
Being an R-rated film and seeing as I was only 13, my mother knew I understood films were built for fantasy and catharsis and allowed me to see this. Most likely, it was Michael J. Fox who helped her make the decision to let me see the movie.
It was far out of character for him to be in a horror film, let alone one that infamously didn't pull punches telling a difficult story about serial murder and the supernatural.
I loved Fox when I was a child. It wasn't until I was much older did I learn Jackson, of Lord of the Rings fame, directed the film. The entire style of the film is more like Jackson's previous works than the Rings series, though easily as influential on me as the latter.
Chi McBride became well known in my mind after watching him haunt unsuspecting house owners in Frank Bannister's (Michael J. Fox) grand scam to make money off the suffering of others.
I think it was this time in my life where actors became important to me for what they could do as individuals to my psychological understanding of people. I had a long way to go before I'd learn of hyper-realism and grandiosity. I've always had a pretty good hold on what makes sense for a character to be feeling given the scenarios they're thrust into. Nonetheless, Fox's calm cunning was immediately attractive to me. He looked like Michael J. Fox, but he acted underhanded, creepy even, and the movie was all the better for this portrayal.
I bought the 15th anniversary Blu-Ray last week and watched the film not shortly afterward. The graphics are notably awful in a couple of places, but the ghostly characters are still very well rendered for today's standards. The movie's cinematography and story are top-notch, and the direction in which the story unfolds and reveals its uglinesses is unique and still surprising, 23 years later. I learned from the commentary Jackson had bought one computer server to render CG (computer graphics) footage for the film, and by the time they reached post-production, Jackson had amassed 34 more computer servers, totaling 35.
The entire reason the Lord of the Rings trilogy exists is due to the necessity of Jackson needing to make money to pay the bills that had come due after buying so many computers, and the greatest epic he landed on that would require extensive CG was J.R.R. Tolkien's series. So, LotR fans rejoice in knowing The Frighteners brought to you one of the greatest war epics ever created for the medium of film. I'd imagine he probably used the same servers for The Hobbit, and I know more than one person who would stand beside me in saying maybe he should have drawn the line at recreating Tolkien worlds with Return of the King.
I loved Michael J. Fox in Teen Wolf and Back to the Future. He was the every-man of the film world, someone I could always relate to, even when I was a pre-teen. His countenance made sense to me. He was easy to listen to and even easier to watch. The film was out-of-this-world weird and featured Jake Busey as the Grim Reaper. What a crazy movie to have seen at 13! But, I was in love with narrative fiction film.
The film could've easily inhabited the same neighborhood in Beetlejuice or Edward Scissorhands, but the film's R-rating solidified it as a more grown-up affair. As much as the seriousness of the story brought, McBride's sarcasm helped me process the life-after-death narrative. The Frighteners is a classic good-versus-evil narrative with supernatural elements and splatterhouse gore. R. Lee Ermey even makes an appearance!
I remember seeing both Mortal Kombat and The Mask at Tandy 10, as well. Tandy 10 theater had an animated cat theme. Think "Pink Panther", only there were four or five characters and each of them had their own jobs to do.
See the lobby picture near the bottom of the article and gander at the characters lining the walls. They're hard to make out, but the "lead" character is the tall, orange cat in a walking pose. One cat sold concessions via a button PSA before the film trailers, one reminded you to be quiet during the film, and another led you to the arcade where the games Area 51 and Time Crisis sucked up all my change! The checkerboard tiling of the theater reminded me of every 50's diner been to in my life. That familiarity made repeat visits to the theater easy.
The red velour and suede walls were some of the most aesthetically pleasing I've seen, and no theater has compared to Tandy 10 outside of the recent Alamo Drafthouse that opened last year in Springfield.
The theater closed, sadly, in 2014 when Cinemark decided not to renovate the dollar theater. Memories mean nothing to the business not turning a profit, I'm afraid, and thus, part of my childhood's open doors were physically closed.
I can remember how the bathrooms were near the exit, and all featured upcoming film posters were angled sideways toward the bathroom doors. I use to lean against the red tile wall and stare at the posters, hoping to one day become an actor. I didn't know my life would ever venture into creating film, though.
I was always too afraid to step on stage, even though I'd been told hundreds of times in my life by people who said I had a large voice and should become an actor. I lived vicariously through those faces on the posters, through the hallowed sea of red velour, staring at a glowing screen. Plus, I figured people were just politely trying to tell me I was a loud child. I didn't know how large or commanding my voice was until later in adulthood. In 2011, I willed myself into a "theatre" production, playing the role of Lennie in a stage adaptation of John Steinbeck's Of Mice & Men. I'd finally become an actor.
I had no idea when I was shopping at a hobby store, eleven years old, selling and buying baseball cards then running over to the Tandy in the suite next door, I'd become a professional filmmaker. All of these memories are surreal to me. I think, mainly because I lost my innocence late in life, the times when life was blissful and there was no reason for living other than playing baseball and watching movies make these recollections more difficult to process.
I yearn for a more simplistic outlook on life, to be more care-free, to hop from room to room without having nauseous anxiety over getting caught... because I was a child and they'd just shoo me out if I got busted not paying for a ticket. It's likely no different today if I get caught not paying for a ticket stub, but the weight of that type of interaction overwhelms me as an adult.
Film was my life long before I became a filmmaker. On the many days I mentioned previously, when watching multiple movies in a day, I actually just left one and walked right into the other, sometimes forgoing the actual purchasing of a ticket for a screening. Most times, I would pay for each viewing, as they were only a dollar and I came with a pocketful of ones.
The bad boy in me, the one that never skipped school or said foul things or treated his sister badly, he was the little guy hopping from screen to screen on a Tuesday night! I felt like a rebel. The latest memory I have of the Tandy was when I saw Quarantine, starring Jennifer Carpenter, in 2008. I'm afraid that was the last time I ever stepped foot in the theater. I'd long since moved away from the area by 2004, but I'd managed to make my way back time and again.
After having become a filmmaker and experiencing familial loss in the last few years, old memories have arisen and I do now wish I'd seen the theater off to its end. So many great films have been screened in the theater, and though I'm sure it had been run down in its later years, the whole thing was always really about the feeling I got from the theater, not in how it looked. Sure, the aesthetic was important.
So important, in fact, I described it in detail from ten-year-old plus memories. It was the freedom to choose my escape. Did I want to be thrilled? Terrified? Blasted with explosions and action? All I had to do was walk down the hall and make my choice!
This writing begins the first chapter of my as-of-yet untitled first book, which chronicles my life, perspective, and journey in becoming a professional filmmaker. What I'd love to do with this book is to showcase my ability to be self-conscious and self-aware. I spend a lot of time looking at myself and how I interact with the world and its people. I want to impart upon those reading my works a great level of entertainment, as well as perspective on how to be your own person in a world of conformity, and when to adapt to the changing climate of the workplace. I totally do not have all the answers in life, but I have my words and my understanding of what's taken place in my life. I hope you stick around to see this book through to its completion.