Okay, okay, okay.
So, you’re wondering why cinema is important to me?
You’re wondering if I’m 100% committed to pursuing this crazy dream. And that’s fair, because it takes so much effort. Because this life, that we’re going for…it’s difficult. Unbelievably difficult. And if you’re not passionate then you’re pretty well fucked.
So, I know I don’t seem it. And I don’t know why that is. I think at school, back in Armidale, I was ALWAYS talking about films. But I was the only one talking about films. I was the only one, saying “look how amazing this shot in Birdman in” or “holy fuck the editing in Whiplash is incredible” and really no one listened. So when I moved to Sydney to be part of a collective that actually talked about films, maybe I decided I didn’t have to talk so much anymore. Because everyone else around me was talking, and they all seemed to know more, which was scary.
That’s probably why I don’t come off as a huge cinema nerd to all of you. I feel like you guys have got it covered and I know that I love it so I don’t have to talk about it all the time. Also I feel a tad daft because I don’t know half of the films.
But let me tell you about the first film I actually remember watching: The Lord of the Rings (cue eye roll from copious amounts of people). I think I watched LOTR at age 4. It seared something into my mind: imagination and scope. It told me that this was as good as it could get. Somehow somewhere you could create a world that you could escape to and kill Orcs and eat Elvish bread and walk around with no shoes on because your feet were like leather (something I did for the next 10 years). LOTR taught me about cinema even if it didn’t intend too. It made me obsessed. Almost every weekend I remember watching LOTR. Watching snippets of just action and then running across to the park to Direct my own version of the battle with the greatest camera imaginable: my mind. LOTR was my gateway drug into stories, imagination and cinema.
After LOTR I was constantly trying to write my own stories of hobbits, or create my own universe like Tolkien had done. It didn’t occur to me that I was doing things that a film maker would do, I was simply just playing in a park. Imagining the world in the camera of my minds eye, unknowingly cutting for emotion and impact with every flick of my head.
It wasn’t just LOTR. Batman Begins was the first time I saw something truly dark and scary, it was my introduction into Nolan who became the lamp that lead me to Directing as a profession. There was Studio Ghibli constantly stimulating my imagination and getting me to think and to try to draw and write new stories. Avatar Last Air Bender made me start my own book series that I never finished, I also created my own plans for a sequel television series that one day I will create.
I didn’t have anything to film with so I never knew I could. I just knew that I wanted to tell stories. That’s all I ever wanted to do. To make people smile, grip their seats and cry as I had. I wanted to affect them in some way. Make them think, and engage with their imagination.
It was only in the deep dark places of year 10 when Dad handed me an article about Christopher Nolan when I was feeling down that I realised someone had to be at the helm of the things I had loved growing up. I became obsessed with finding out what exactly a director did, who they were and how they did it. I would read books and watch interviews. I found every behind the scene feature I could and watch and rewatch, over and over until it had shaped in.
This moment was when my love of film began to truly take hold. It was now a conscious love, that’s the only difference. I was consciously coming to an already long ago decided conclusion: I love film. Here in the beginnings of this I found new muses to inspire me.
Wes Anderson and his unrelenting style and control brought me joy in the dark times. I remember very clearly coming home to my father watching The Grand Budapest Hotel. He asked me who does this remind you of? I looked at the film, it was new the very end, Zero was in the chapel about to escape. I looked at dad “It’s Fantastic Mr Fox” and as soon as I uttered those words I knew I was hooked. I went to the library and (thankfully) they had all every single one of his other films. I watched all of them in two weekends. He taught me that you should always embrace your eccentricities and really just believe in yourself. And I’m sure he’ll continue to inspire me forever.
Taika Waititi is a treasured find of mine. His off the cuff, dry humour never failed to make me laugh. What We Do In the Shadows will forever be one of my most quoted and beloved movies. But then going through Taika’s filmography I found that he could do more than just be funny. He could create something that hit you in your heart and then tore it out: Boy. A hauntingly beautiful, quirky masterpiece of a film that made me cry hysterically and then laugh with those same tears in my eyes. Hunt for the Wilderpeople was my secret favourite film of last year, and deserved far more praise in a dull opening.
Damien Chazelles Whiplash is I think the most perfectly timed and edited film I’ve ever seen. Alfonso Cuoran has become ever more relevant, Children of Men is one of, if not the best, film made this century.
Film is a collection of perfect moments, displayed in a perfect way. It’s life captured forever, for everyone to see and learn from. It’s incredibly enticing to be able to add to the collection of human life. Immortalising part of your soul. I think that’s why I love cinema. It allows you to put yourself out there, your fears and concerns and obsessions in a very honest and raw way. It’s also a social creative experience. Books are written in a room by yourself, music is written in a recording studio with only a few people, even acting is a very singular experience. Film making is the only creative industry that requires other people. It’s this giant cloud of minds working towards a singular goal. A perfect example for what humans can do when they put their minds together. And with other people is where I belong. I could never be a writer because I need human interaction and that’s why film interests me so much. You get to make something, that’s your baby but it’s raised by all these different influences. It’s incredibly flexible and profound and it can change lives. Because cinema is magic, it’s a trick. A trick that convinces someone for a second that life is better, that life can be better and it can be different. Film is the only medium that completely encapsulates peoples minds. On that silver screen we don’t just create images with words that tell important stories that need to be heard and connected to. We create worlds. Worlds for people to fall in love with, to be swept away by, to be inspired by.
(Written with help from Bon Iver and Alexandre Desplat, you guys make rocking writing music)