A continuation from my last post …
Here are the questions the Academy posed during Academy Fan Appreciation Week, along with my responses.
I’d probably stand in silent disbelief for a few seconds before saying, “I’ve been fantasizing about this moment for most of my life. I’m so grateful to be standing here, welcomed by this honorable community. For me, film isn’t about the awards–though I gladly accept this Oscar–it’s about the magic that stretches through the screen and reaches each wide-eyed dreamer sitting in the audience–myself included. For some, an Oscar represents the culmination of a long, amazing career, but for me, it represents my inclusion with this industry that I love and respect so much. I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the worthy nominees in this category, because it’s when I watch films like [INSERT FELLOW NOMINATED FILM TITLES] that I’m reminded why I love movies so damn much. Thank you for this honor. This is the greatest moment of my life.”
Bow Tie Cinema in Chelsea, Manhattan. The theatre leaves much to be desired, but they get all the best movies–including a good mix of indies and mainstream studio flicks.
My most-prized movie possession is this giant 20-panel wall hanging of Alfred Hitchcock I created (using an existing image) that hangs in my living room, greeting all visitors. Hitch is my favorite filmmaker. I’m constantly inspired by his innovation and ability to send chills up the viewer’s spine without the cheap and easy tricks we see too often these days (e.g., gore, dramatic music, etc.). He didn’t dumb things down for the viewer, understanding that the human mind is far more capable of conjuring more terrifying images and scenarios than can be shown directly on screen. It’s this insight that propelled him to become one of the greatest filmmakers of all time.
This doesn’t exactly answer the question, but I think it’s still appropriate. My first year out of college I joined the AmeriCorps, the “domestic Peace Corps.” I’ve long been a believer in volunteerism–using my skills and talents to help better the lives of others. During my volunteer year I watched Mr. Smith Goes To Washington for the first time. I’m a huge Frank Capra and Jimmy Stewart fan. I watched the film with my jaw on the floor, in wonderment that perhaps a man like Jefferson Smith could actually exist in our world (sure, he’s just a character, but that didn’t matter). Smith fights for what he believes in, despite having the odds stacked against him. The film renewed my sense of altruism and re-confirmed my decision to take a year to volunteer, even though it meant making very little money. To this day, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is my favorite film of all time, and a framed poster hangs on my living room wall …
… On a more superficial (yet, still important) level, I decided years ago–when I was 22–that as my interest and passion in film was starting to take shape there were many classic films I knew I had to watch. I spent a lot of time doing research and compiling a list of the 170 films to watch by my 30th birthday. (I also created a blog, the170.com.) A couple days before my 30th, I completed my list (the last was 1916’s Intolerance). I wanted to celebrate my 8-year odyssey in a big, memorable way (as well as my milestone 30th birthday), so I took my first trip to LA to visit the then-Kodak Theatre, Warner Bros. Studios, and several other film-related locations. I usually try to avoid looking like a tourist when I travel (which is not often, unfortunately), but for this trip, I was happy to let my tourist flag fly–all because it meant being in Hollywood for the first time.