Not everyone returns to films they have seen before; I am not one of those people. Recently returning to a personal favourite of mine, it brought me back to the summer that my cinematic passion became obsession and my life’s goal was clearly defined. David Gordon Green’s George Washington was probably the main catalyst in my decision to become a filmmaker, but several other cinematic moments have also defined my love for film, some more obvious than others.
While I’ve wanted to become a filmmaker since grade five–something my grade school teachers can confirm–it wasn’t until about five years ago that my childhood dream became an adulthood must.
Having been forced into a two-week cottage stay with my family, I decided to stock up on films I had never seen. Unaware of their connective tissue, I took with me Terrence Malick’s The New World and Days of Heaven, Jeff Nichol’s Shotgun Stories, and David Gordon Green’s George Washington and Undertow. This not only cemented my need to become a filmmaker but it defined the kind of films I wanted to make.
And as important as that summer was, if I look back further I realize the seeds of my cinematic obsession were sown long before.
Even as early as grade school, a friend and I would spend our free time making short films using the earliest of mini-dv technology and his old Macintosh computer. That ultra-low budget tinkering with the idea of filmmaking progressed further in middle school as my friends and I began a terribly unfunny online series.
In the years since I have looked back on that summer and the moments years before and felt a certain sadness: sadness that I would never again be able to feel the way I did seeing those immensely beautiful and influential pictures for the first time, or being able to make terrible short films with absolutely no pressure. And while I previously believed I would never experience a summer that would influence my love for film as much as that one, it is possible this summer has done just that.
While my viewing of films has been limited this summer, I did, instead, finally take the filmmaking plunge and direct my first true short film. And perhaps not surprisingly, it is the films that I viewed all those years ago that influenced this film more than anything else. From their subtle storytelling, the beautiful camera work and the absolute rejection of pretension, it is those films that I saw that summer that have shaped the way that I shot, edited and directed my film. And while I am not saying my film is beautifully shot, has subtle storytelling or even is not pretentious, I simply mean that is the kind of film I meant it to be and hope it is.
It is not only shooting my first film that makes this summer important, but with the few films I did see, two of them happened to change the way I look at cinema. Abbas Kiarostami’s Certified Copy showed me the importance that dialogue can have to a narrative and the secrets that can be held within a performance. The other film, one that is slightly more obvious, was Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life, a film that, with each viewing, continues to shape the way I look at cinema as a whole. The way he shot and edited the film creates a film that feels less like a narrative feature and more like a series of memories plucked directly from the filmmaker’s brain.
I realize that the important moments in life aren’t always the ones that you immediately see as significant. As I have been running The Deleted Scene for just a little over a year, I realize that maybe this one year anniversary is one that I will remember as being immensely important. The blog continues to grow and are the opportunities that it has allowed me.
The last several months I have been unable to work as hard on the blog as I wish I could have, however the trade off was working on my film. Beginning in September, I hope to be able to work on the blog far more than I previously have and give it all of the attention it deserves.
The blog is not something I ever hope to make money with, it is simply a tool for me to express the way I feel about cinema, without doing it in a traditional fashion. Film is the most important part of my life, and I want it to be the way I spend my life. Your support in spreading the word is always needed and will forever be appreciated.
Thank you for the last year.