There’s something magical about going to the movies alone. Don’t get me wrong, I love the company of others. I’m a very social person. It’s just that there’s nothing really like experiencing the magic of the movies by yourself. Aside from the pitiful look you get from the ticket-taker, it’s pretty amazing. There are no distractions, no sharing of food, and, of course, you can stay there as long as you want (or until they kick out). That’s exactly what I was going to do when I heard that the 1982 Spielberg classic E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial was coming to theatres for its 35th anniversary. My roommates were all leaving to go see Blade Runner (a film I have yet to see) and invited me to join them. Of course, when I told them I had plans to go see E.T. alone they gave me the same look I would soon receive from the ticket-taker. So later that night, I stuck a bag of Reese’s Pieces into my pocket and walked into the theatre.
As the lights of theatre 9 faded to the dark and the familiar opening theme echoed from the speakers, I was overcome by a wave of nostalgia. You see, E.T. is, by far, one of my favorite films. There are many reasons why and each time I see it, I come up with a new reason to love it. First off, the story. Yes I know, it’s about an alien and a boy but it’s so much more than that. It’s about friendship, maturity, and (something that went over my head as a young boy) it’s about coping with divorce. Spielberg took a lot of his experiences from his own parents’ divorce and implemented it into Elliot’s life. This brings a sense of reality into such a magical story. Second, the details. Aside from clever advertising (Reese’s Pieces, Coors, and many others), Spielberg also made some essential details with the plot. Take the antagonist for example, he is seen at the beginning of the film and throughout it until the end. The catch, however, is that we never see his face until the last act of the film. We know it’s him because the first time we see him he adjusts a keychain on his belt. Spielberg continues to have this character enter time and time again with the keychain until we recognize him just by hearing the jingle of a set of keys. To me, that’s genius.
I could spend hours telling you more and more reasons why this film means so much to me, instead, I’ll leave you with this. An image of me sitting alone in the theatre. The lights turn back on to reveal me drying my tears (yes, I cried and I’m not afraid to mention it). Let me also acknowledge that this always happens. Every time I see this film, I cry. Sometimes it’s because of the score, sometimes the characters, but the last line of the film never disappoints: “I’ll be right here.” After the employees slowly made their way in the theatre to mop up my tears, I took my cue and made my way out. With the ending theme still whispering in my ear, I couldn’t help but realize this is why I want to make movies.
Whenever an exciting opportunity comes my way, I always ask myself three questions: Will anyone get hurt? Is it illegal? Does it make for a good story? The way I see it, if my answer is no, no, and yes, then count me in. Now, this has thrown me into some pretty intense situations, but, no matter what, I always have a story to tell. I'll give an example:
During my senior year of high school, the big clown scare was going on. Videos had been posted of clowns with knives and mallets chasing people. By some stroke of luck or, most likely, insanity, I got the idea of tweeting a selfie of me with a clown neatly photoshopped in the background.
I know, I'm a genius.
Much to my surprise, the picture spread like wildfire. By sixth period, everyone was talking about it. Unfortunately, I was ordered to the assistant principal's office. As Officer Hill escorted me to the gallows, I contemplated what I had done wrong. No one got hurt, I wasn't breaking any specific law, and I'm pretty sure that this would make for a good story.
I arrived into Mrs. Marring's office and was immediately interrogated. "Where is the clown?" she asked me. She even thought I had hired a clown to come to school. I didn't blame her though, I had done some pretty extravagant pranks before. Apparently, my tweet had resulted in at least 38 calls from concerned parents, a visit from the police department, and the nearby middle school being put on lockdown. At one point, during our thirty-minute court case, she demanded that I delete the tweet. To which I replied, "Did you see how many favorites I got?" Marring ended up letting me off with only a warning. I believe she ended our conversation saying that "only a fool would find that tweet funny." Of course, the rest of the school thought it was hilarious.
Mark Twain once said, "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do." I look back on my high school experience fondly. I think about things I would've done differently and honestly, I wouldn't change a thing. Now I wasn't the star quarterback or homecoming king, but I left my own impression on the school. Even if it was in the form of numerous concerning news stories.
Those three questions have kept me out of a lot of trouble, but they've also gotten me into trouble when I needed to. They've kept me young and I know I'll stay young for quite some time. I also know I'll never run out of a good story to tell. Stories are everywhere, all around us. I believe everyone has the potential to have amazing stories unfold right in front of them. They just have to know where to look.