HOW I GOT INTO THE FILM BUSINESS
A MOVIE SAVED MY LIFE
Many of my friends, clients and students have asked me how and why I got into the film business.
My usual answer is that “a film saved my life.”
Here’s the story -
Summer of 1964 – I was undergoing the break-up of my first serious relationship with a female. I was on my way to college – a very threatening environment, indeed. New Haven, Connecticut; cold, wintery, hostile.
Upon the break-up, just before leaving Los Angeles for the east coast, I sought advice from some males. My dad said, “Don’t worry, son, it happens to everybody.” This didn’t help a bit. After all, my girlfriend hadn’t left my father; she left ME!
My best friend said to me, “Don’t worry. They’re ALL (four-letter word).” This didn’t help either. I was the one head-over-heels for her. So, there was an insult to ME!
My second best friend put his arm around me and said, “Oh, poor Eric. You were done so wrong.” Sympathy can be the most dangerous emotion of them all. It tended to “lock-in” or “fix” the negative emotion in place. The sympathy felt so much better than the pain. It was as though I kept the loss up front in my mind…in order to receive MORE sympathy.
I became a man obsessed. Posted pictures of her all over my college dorm room. My life was a mess.
Finally, at the Yale Film Society (which I’d helped to co-found), we showed a film which so remarkably tracked with my incident that by the time it was over, the entire incident lifted off my shoulders. The film was RANCHO NOTORIOUS, directed by Fritz Lang! A German expressionist western, starring Marlene Dietrich.
In RANCHO, Arthur Kennedy loses his fiancée at the beginning, and spends the rest of the film tracking down the killer. At the end, the hero finds the killer, gets justice. Film over.
Unbelievable! The film perfectly paralleled where I was at…and made it okay to be there! Nobody was telling me what all this “meant,” nor what I needed to do about it. This was what I needed. It was as though, after the incident, someone had said to me, “Geez, Eric, that was a bummer.” That would’ve worked!
I then realized that a movie had solved my problem. So, of course, I said, “If a movie can do that – so peacefully, NO drugs, no head-shrinking, no murder – making films is what I want to do.”
So there it was: my purpose in life. Help people through films; films that told stories about interesting people, confronted by interesting situations, and evolving interesting solutions.
My life has become entirely involved with movies: making them; consulting to others about making them; teaching others about making them; and writing books and creating DVDs about making them.
All best wishes to you,
PS. Feel free to tell me your story below in the comments section! What is your purpose in the industry?