I used to spend a lot of time at the movies.
My 1st real job, besides the one I got fired from when I was 15, was at a 6 screen movie theatre. That was lots of screens back then.
Every Friday and Saturday midnight screening of the Rocky Horror Picture Show was an event. People dressed in character and sang along with the movie.
I worked there for months before I ever saw the movie and when I finally did see it I thought it was fun but very strange to my very young, very naive, Catholic school mind. I’m sure I had no clue what it was about.
My area was the concession stand; I loved popcorn then and I love popcorn now.
When I was a student at UT in Austin, I worked at a movie theatre walking distance from my apartment. Riverside Twin Cinema. That theatre was lot smaller and a lot quieter.
At the movies all the time.
One of the best perks about a theatre job back then was the movie passes.I loved it! And so did most of my work friends so we’d go to movies and discuss what we liked and what we didn’t like.
My co-workers and I would discuss movies, sometimes heatedly. I remember a discussion about a David Bowie movie and I don’t even remember the title and one of my co-workers was like, “It’s a comedy” and I said, “No, it’s a drama.” It was really funny that I don’t remember the details about the movie at all but I remember this discussion and I realized that maybe I was taking things a little too seriously and that’s what kept me from seeing the humor in this foreign film that I can’t remember at all.
Or maybe he was full of crap and it was a drama and he didn’t get it.
Another memorable moment was when my co-worker friends and I were waiting for a movie to start and overhead a conversation about how bad a movie Raiders of the Lost Ark was. One of my friends was so agitated by the negative review, we had to move out of earshot. He loved everything about that movie.
Memorable movie theatre moments:
My parents would drop us off at the movies and come round us up after. I distinctly remember going to the movies to watch Walt Disney’s “The Aristocats” and my little sister must have been too young, probably only about 4 or 5, and not ready to be left in our charge because I remember her crying her head off in the middle of the movie and we didn’t know what to do with her. I was probably only about 7 or 8 and my oldest brother would have been around 11.
It was a different time. Imagine doing that now.
Watching Rocky for the very 1st time when I was a freshman in high school. That was the original Rocky and the best. I was floored and my friend kind of shrugged her shoulders and said, “It was alright.” Are you kidding me? Certainly she was nuts or maybe she didn’t get it. When it won the Oscar for best picture, I wasn’t surprised. And then to learn the story behind the making of “Rocky” and how it came to be! Amazing.
Superman with Christopher Reeve. What a great movie. Sure, Superman’s flying scenes and the super action-packed Superman-to-the-rescue scenes were clunky, but it didn’t matter because the chemistry between Christopher Reeve was Superman. The chemistry between the characters sold the story lines. And the musical score. Holy cow. I got a Superman t-shirt that Christmas and wore it proudly for years.
Conan the Barbarian. That was the only time I’ve ever walked out of a movie and I remember thinking, “Oh my goodness this is so very bad. Why am I here?” Who would’ve guessed that Conan would launch Arnold Schwarzenegger’s long movie career. I could hardly understand what he was saying, although I don’t remember him having a lot of lines.
Film History 101 at University of Texas at Austin. Sounds like a blow off class right? It wasn’t. The course examined the film industry and how the industry impacted history and vice versa. Starting with silent movies and to the then modern movies. When the film industry first began, many people didn’t believe that an audience could follow a story’s development, movement, changing scenes, and evolving characters with moving pictures. In class we watched film segments in class including great American films like “Birth of a Nation” directed by D. W. Griffith and “Stagecoach” directed by John Ford and saw the impact newsreels made during WW II.
A film class I took at San Antonio College taught me an important lesson with one simple group assignment: make a short film using an 8 mm camera. That simple assignment helped me realize how difficult it is to make a film from start to finish. My group’s film ended up being a scene. We didn’t have a story. It was terrible. Another group’s film didn’t have much of a story either but the editing saved it and created a very entertaining character. That lesson transfers to all forms of art, really – film, visual art, plays, poetry, novels.
There’s an old exercise in which you create your perfect job. Mine always involved sitting around talking about books and movies. Mostly movies. I had no idea people actually did that for a living.
How things have changed
Technology’s advanced oodles as has the movie going experience. Lots of movie theatre Megaplexes offer various forms of entertainment now, not just movies.
One thing is the same as I learned years ago, creating something from nothing is a major accomplishment on its own. Creating high quality, interesting, smart, thought provoking, and multi-layered material requires the stars to be aligned and lots of time, tenacity, and pushing forward.
I usually have strong opinions about why I like or dislike a movie, but I try to remember my own experience making that short film and how so many factors influence the final product.
In that way, making a movie must be a little like running a marathon: finishing is winning.