Film Influences

Most film bloggers will write a list of their favourite films to let the reader get to know them. While this is a good idea, if presented without context, this list will be without true meaning.

Instead of writing a generic list of my favourite films, I thought of going a different route. One that will provide explanation and context to the select few films that have influenced my life and have not only confirmed my passion for film but cemented my need to become a filmmaker.

As it is with any child, I enjoyed watching movies, but until grade four none had really captured my imagination. This all changed one night after my mom, on impulse bought the Indiana Jones trilogy on glorious VHS. My little brother and I spent that night watching these films, sucked into a world, created by a film, like I had never been before. The Indiana Jones series showed me the level of excitement, adventure and wonder possible in film.

It was around this time, with the help of Iron Giant and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, that the idea of a career in filmmaking started taking root.

Looking back on middle school, it is difficult to single out a film that influenced me as much as those earlier ones. But it it was during this time that movies took on a greater importance in my life.

In 2002, my family moved to a new neighbourhood. This meant a new school, fewer friends and more movies. I would go to the video store (remember those?) and rent five VHS almost every second day. I saw anything and everything, from classics to 80’s horror to the just plain terrible.

It was in high school that my love for film became a passion and my preferred career choice. After seeing Alfonso Cuaron’s Children of Men, I decided to dive into Cuaron’s back catalogue, which led me to Y Tu Mama Tambien. Over the summer, my friends and I watched that film almost every week, maybe it was due in part to its high sexual content and our pubescent horniness, but it was mainly the craft evident in the film. The direction, cinematography and writing was unlike anything I had seen before.

While I can’t remember exactly how, this film led me to Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Dreamers. I was shocked, the film combined pure love of film and sexual discovery. While not one of my favourite films, it did introduce me to French New Wave, Neo-Realism and New Hollywood. It was thanks to this that I discovered the Criterion Collection when I realized that if I wanted to watch The 400 Blows or Band of Outsiders, I would need to buy the beautiful but expensive Criterion releases.

Strangely enough, what led me to my favourite filmmaker were Judd Apatow’s films. It was during the summer following Grade 10 that my love for everything Apatow and Rogen began to blossom. It was with the announcement that indie director David Gordon Green would be directing stoner action comedy Pineapple Express that I indirectly discovered Terrence Malick. I decided to look at Green’s back catalogue, and found George Washington and Undertow, two films directly influenced by Malick.

With two weeks of isolation at a cottage coming up, I decided to stock up on films I had yet to see. With my wallet about to be emptied, I went to the video store and found Days of Heaven, The New World and George Washington. These similarly styled films fostered a passion inside me that has now become one of the central interests in my life.

Following my discovery of Malick several years ago, I dove straight into the deep end, watching the films of Truffaut (Stolen Kisses), Tarkovsky (Ivan’s Childhood) , and Godard (Band of Outsiders) among others.

These films have influenced me in ways almost nothing else has. Some of these films remain among my most loved, while others have simply led me to discover films that are now my favourites, either way they have had a profound influence on my life, an influence that has made me realize that a filmmaker is what I have to be.

Film is unlike any other medium or art, as it combines all of them, yet is completely original. The stories it tells can have an effect and influence on lives–like my own–so profound it can change them. This is why I need to be part of this wonderful art form and try my best to influence people as I have been influenced.

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3 Responses to Film Influences

  1. Nice post. I agree that adding context to your list has set it apart from peoples top 10! So much so that I think I’ll one day do my own mapping exercise and work out what films influenced me at the various stages of my life.

    • Thanks a lot, I appreciate your comment. I would really suggest doing that too, it is strange that when you begin to write it you realize what films influenced you more than others. I look forward to reading your post.

  2. RunningSiren says:

    Most foreign films are a continuing world of influence and discovery for me -I love it when I see a film on a whim (or at a film festival) and notice an actor that really stands out in the film and I’ll start a series of watching that actor’s films/TV mini-series. Like the original UK “State of Play” because I was curious about James McAvoy’s previous work. And then one of those films will introduce me to a new director I’ve not paid much attention to previously, so now I’m off on another road of exploration which will lead me to another actor, director, etc. Meanwhile, a few years ago I became aware of IMDB and it was a place where more information was available on whatever current “theme” I was watching/researching. And then on some IMDB message board not long ago I read a well-written review on a film I’ve just seen and there’s a link to a brand new blog called “The Deleted Scene.” So I’m looking forward to exploring some new avenues of film that perhaps I’ve forgotten about (Truffaut’s Stolen Kisses – I think I saw it). So the world of film needs no road map, just enjoy the view.

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