I spent three years of my life working in movie theatres, and during that time I took full advantage of being able to watch films for free. This was when I was first considering filmmaking as a career, so I made it my mission to watch every single film that opened while I was working there. A part of me was determined to study the films, trying to somehow understand the secrets of the cinema. The other part was content just sitting back and letting the light and sound wash over me, and after a very brief struggle I stopped overthinking it and just enjoyed the films.
I watched everything and anything. One weekend I remember walking from a packed theatre playing ‘Step Up,’ a wildly successful dance film that features Channing Tatum doing a lil’ bit of vandalizing and then a whole lot of dancing, into a screening of ‘Children of Men,’ a stunning productions that went on to win three Oscars in the following months (and become one of my personal favourite movies). For very different reasons I found myself sincerely enjoying them both.
When I finally enrolled in film school I immediately encountered my first very vocal group of film snobs. Their options didn’t reflect the vast majority of the people there, but they were very often the loudest voices. It wasn’t their taste in films that I didn’t agree with, but the mentality that their options were the correct options. They passionately slammed films that they had never seen, often simply because they were successful blockbusters or aimed towards a very wide audience.
I soon got a job at a new theatre, where I continued to watch films indiscriminately. One afternoon I finished a screening of a ridiculously gory horror movie in 3D and I bumped into one of my classmates outside of the theatre. We talked briefly in the lobby and at first he insisted he hated the film, only to slowly relent as we remembered some of the crazier scenes. In the end he admitted with some hesitation that he had totally loved the film.
I believe that the magic of films is something that we first experience as a child – when the lights go down and the screen opens up like a window to another world. The majority of films are meant to be enjoyed, either through humour, or an intelligent script or pure visual masterpiece. You are not defined by your taste in movies any more than your taste in food – and you shouldn’t be judged for liking both the prime rib and cotton candy of movies.
For myself, this manifests in a continuous love of nearly every film I see. Of course I always have my favourites, but even though I’ve watched certain films like ‘Dog Day Afternoon’ nearly a dozen times, I find myself constantly quoting ‘Cannibal! The Musical’ and the admittedly horrific 2010 movie ‘Coach’. There is something to love about nearly every film out there, and it’s an important part of the creative process to open yourself to that possibility.
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