I can’t remember a time when movies weren’t in my life somehow. When I was 4, my father had purchased a recently released VHS copy of The Breakfast Club (1985). I was under the impression that he got it for me, and we go back and forth on this all the time, but I thought is was mine and it was my prized possession. I watched it once with my dad and fell in love it. Of course, my mom caught wind of this and quickly took it from me, graciously allowing me to watch it again when I was “old enough” (I later found it poorly hidden and continued to watch it for years when my parents weren’t around). At the age of 5 I was cast in an Emerson College student’s short subject film. The attention was nice but I was fascinated by the process of film production. Every aspect of it was mesmerizing, and before I had finished kindergarten I knew what my future vocation would be: Filmmaker.
My free time was spent doing puzzles, listening to my music on audio cassettes and watching any movies possible. I was raised on a steady diet of John Hughes films, mainly The Breakfast Club, Weird Science (1985) and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986), which I’ve see more times than I can recall. I eventually named my son after Ferris’ best friend: Cameron. I can still vividly remember breaking down the movie’s structure into sections or “acts” and noticing character development as young kid. I wasn’t doing that when I was watching He-Man. My selections weren’t limited to mainstream movies either. One day, staying home from school as I was sick, my father was watching Au Revoir Les Enfants (1987) on TV. It didn’t seem that interesting at first because it meant I had to read. 90 minutes later I realized that I hadn’t moved once, stuck in a trance from the movie.
Years went by and even though most of my energy drifted toward studying music, movies were still my guiding light. It wasn’t until high school when I started writing about movies. Nothing outstanding, just papers for school and free-writing exercises to get my pen to paper. After I wrote my senior paper (Based around The Breakfast Club, of course) it because apparent that my criticism had little basis since I didn’t have much frame of refernce regarding film history. In music we have music theory so I needed to start my next challenge which was film theory.
After begining college at Berklee College of Music, I quickly got a job a video store to cover the expenses of school. In hindsight, it was my start of informal film studies since I had an entire catalog of movies at my disposal. Most of my coworkers were film students so they guided me towards important movies that would flesh out my understanding of mostly modern cinema (1970s-2000). Then I lost my job.
After falling into a very deep depression and living at both my parents places, I discovered an amazing little cable TV channel known as Turner Classic Movies. For the next two years – working small jobs sporadically – I spent my days watching films. Anywhere from 20-25 per week. These movies were filling a massive void in my film knowledge, namely cinema from its inception to the 1970’s. It motivated me to start attending local film festivals and even working as a production assistant (gofer) on small films on location nearby. I developed some great friends and relationships that allowed me to discuss film in general to people in the know. Then I realized I had to start working full time again since I couldn’t live with my parents forever.
I soon began dating the woman who would eventually become my wife, got a full time job and put movies to the side while I joined everyone else in adulthood. I was still able to watch movies here and there, but festivals and in-depth discussion of cinema began to decease more and more. Film studies became a very private endeavor and I seldom had chances to watch the marathons of movies I used to.
I’ve spent the last decade trying to find my balance in life. I became married and have two kids. I have a full time job and I get to see my family whenever possible. Despite my situation, as grateful as I am, I still feel a void that needs to be filled. One day I heard some news that unexpectedly upset me: Roger Ebert had died. I knew that he had battled cancer and gone through a string of procedures. Maybe I was being naive, but I really thought that he would pull through and live another 20 years. Then he was just gone. I was so overcome with emotion, I did something I hadn’t in many years. I wrote. I explained what he meant to me, how his words and opinions effected my life and I decided to post on Facebook.
Even though the piece was about him, I ended the piece by saying that I was a “person who only feels at home when the lights go down and the picture begins”. That last sentence gave me pause. Perhaps that event was the catalyst in my next step as a student of cinema. Instead of keeping my thoughts on film to myself, I could write them and figure it out with everyone else.
So here I am. I am dedicating this blog to writing my education of cinema it happens.
My name is Jonathan.