Friday, March 02, 2012

Toto, I don’t think we’re in film school anymore…

Marcie Mayhorn
As a film school alum, no cinema question phases me in the slightest.  “What’s your favorite Billy Wilder film?”  SOME LIKE IT HOT.  “Who is your favorite foreign director?”  Easy – Pedro Almodovar. “What do you want to be when you grow up?”  Please – writer/director and probably a producer, especially if I want to have my own production company.

I can shoot off answers to questions like these all day long.  But sometimes, questions come along that require a little more thought.  One of the interns here at the office asked me one day what I’d like to do in the future.  Again, no hesitation whatsoever: “I’d like to write and direct my own films, and essentially own my own production company.”  I didn’t even stutter.  “Oh wow,” she replied, “well, what type of stories do you want to write?” “I –…” I paused.  The immediate answer didn’t come to me.  So many options ran through my head: good stories, of course, but not cheesy good, really feel-good stories, ones that make you feel your heart in your throat.  But not leave a theater sobbing…

What type of stories do I want to write?  I had to tell her I would get back to her because I didn’t honestly know.  Ever since she asked me, I have thought long and hard about this.  I finally realized I should examine a few of my favorite films for this answer.  The one that truly stuck out in my mind was THE WIZARD OF OZ.  Do I want to write a story about a rural girl who gets whacked in the head and dreams she’s in a magical land?  Not exactly.  So what is it about this film that makes it one of my favorites?

It was the first time I had really ever dissected a story, really got into the cracks to see what makes it so appealing to me.  And there, I discovered my answer: I used to watch this film all the time as a child.  I would sing all of the songs, and make believe that I, too, could travel somewhere magical.  I used this story as a basis for wanting to dream, for wanting to explore places that I could only imagine, and maybe even go there someday.  But like Dorothy, I remembered the importance of home and how much family means to me.  I vividly remember watching this film the night before I left for college and crying my eyes out, because I knew that my life was about to change.

And it hit me: those are the types of stories I want to write.  The ones that evoke memories, that trigger that deep feeling and emotion within us that only we know.  I want to write stories that make someone remember the importance of all the people in their life, and how taking a risk can be worthwhile.  I want to write stories that make someone realize that it is perfectly alright to be exactly the type of person that they are.

I’ll have to tell that intern that I finally know the answer to her question!  But for today, I also challenge you to answer the question of: what kind of stories do you want to tell?

-- Marcie Mayhorn, Austin Film Festival Office Manager

No comments: