Movies That Changed Everything: Signs

October 30, 2010 at 11:00 pm

Movies That Changed Everything: Signs

I’m an aspiring filmmaker.  Like every filmmaker out there, I have a lengthy list of films that have inspired me along the way.  This series will examine twelve of the films that changed the way I looked at movies forever.  Films that have greatly influenced the filmmaker I hope to become someday…

Signs

Movies that changed everything: Signs

Signs is my favorite movie.  Ever.

Normally when I make that statement, I receive a confused look in return.

It IS my all time favorite.

When Signs was released, I was already obsessed with M. Night Shyamalan’s films.  The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable were both amazing movies and I was eagerly anticipating what the director would come up with next.

I had no idea his next film would literally help me decide what to do with my life.

Signs was fun.  It was a simple yet well executed concept with incredible characters but what stuck with me was how well he told his story.  It was original, funny, emotional and entertaining. (Yes…  Even the alien water thing.)

I can’t explain what happened.  I just loved it.

I’ve never felt so inspired in my entire life.

Movies That Changed Everything: Signs M Night Shyamalan

Around the time that Signs was released,  I was thinking seriously about making a life altering decision.

I was in University and well on my way to becoming an English teacher.  The idea was to teach and use my summer holidays to write.

Truthfully, I was unhappy about the direction my life was heading.  I had just realized that I didn’t want to be a teacher at all.

I felt lost

So I took a chance and transferred out of English and into a college broadcasting program.

It was the best decision I ever made as it led to my career as a professional editor.  Now I have a job I absolutely love and I write whenever I can.

Where does Signs come in?

Signs arrived when I was weighing whether or not it was worth it to pursue film at all.

Am I going to write screenplays or not?

M. Night Shyamalan’s brilliant film opened my eyes again.  Screenwriting is a big part of my life and there was no way I could leave it behind.

Before Signs came along, screenwriting was merely a hobby.  Once I saw it, screenwriting became my passion.

To this day, whenever I see that movie, I want to stop everything and write.

Some people may think it’s strange that Signs is my favorite movie.   I will even concede that there are tons of ‘better’ movies out there but that’s not always a good way to measure the impact a film can have on you.

Forget the fact that Mel Gibson isn’t the most popular person in the world right now.  It’s not about Night’s current string of disappointing films.  It’s not about the awards, the critics or the popular opinion.

For me, it’s about the movies you connect with.  The movies that inspire.

Signs came along exactly when I needed to see it.

I’ll always be thankful for that.

Movies That Changed Everything: The Sixth Sense

October 7, 2010 at 8:25 am

Movies That Changed Everything: The Sixth Sense

I’m an aspiring filmmaker.  Like every filmmaker out there, I have a lengthy list of films that have inspired me along the way.  This series will examine twelve of the films that changed the way I looked at movies forever.  Films that have greatly influenced the filmmaker I hope to become someday…

The Sixth Sense

Movies That Changed Everything: The Sixth Sense

M. Night Shyamalan is one of my favorite directors…

I’m sensing a lot of people rolling their eyes but I stand by my statement because 4 of his films are spectacular.

Love him or hate him, you can’t doubt that at one point, he was one of the most entertaining and original filmmakers out there.

It’s movies like The Sixth Sense that gave him the fame he has (or doesn’t have) today.

Why is it a movie that changed everything?

Pacing.  Story.  Character development .

Most importantly:

Subtlety

The entire film is essentially one giant build up to it’s phenomenal twist ending.  However, such a giant plot point has to be carefully setup without giving too much away.

Watch the film again…  It wasn’t easy but Shyamalan pulled it off.

From the very first shot he is skillfully planting the seeds he needs to sell the incredible finale.  From the cold breath to setting Bruce Willis’ character up as a sympathetic child psychologist.  Everything is important.

Personally, I think it’s one of the best openings sequences in film history.

From there, the director tows a fine line as he builds up his characters and raises hairs on the backs of your neck.

I love how this film is paced.  Very slow yet deliberate.

Sometimes, slow paced movies can become long and boring but The Sixth Sense is as entertaining as thrillers get.  Beyond that, it’s an intelligent film that gets you thinking about what is possible after this life.  It’s gets you to think about what frightens you.

Great movies tell stories that resonate.  Stories that ignite conversations between friends.

The Sixth Sense achieves all that and more before blindsiding you with a legendary twist.  M. Night Shyamalan wasn’t given the key to Hollywood for nothing.

He earned it by creating one of the best thrillers of all time.

I watch that movie and immediately, I’m ready to write simple yet effective stories that get all the details right.  It sounds simple enough but it’s a balance that’s hard to nail.  When I feel like I’m not getting there I always look to movies like The Sixth Sense for inspiration.

It’s definitely a movie that changed everything.

Movies That Changed Everything: A Few Good Men

September 24, 2010 at 9:47 am

Movies That Changed Everything: A Few Good Men

I’m an aspiring filmmaker.  Like every filmmaker out there, I have a lengthy list of films that have inspired me along the way.  This series will examine twelve of the films that changed the way I looked at movies forever.  Films that have greatly influenced the filmmaker I hope to become someday…

A Few Good Men

movies that changed everything: A Few Good Men

It’s no secret that I’m extremely passionate about screenwriting. I can’t get enough.

Yet, it can be difficult sometimes to find time to write while balancing my career in television and other normal life responsibilities.

I still try to get into screenwriting mode as much as possible.

The goal?

To someday write something as good as A Few Good Men.

Forget the amazing film and the legendary performances of Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson for a moment.

In my opinion, the screenplay for A Few Good Men is one of best ever written.  It’s a phenomenal script.

Aaron Sorkin’s brilliant work has been a source of inspiration for me since the moment I heard Tom Cruise yell:

“Thank you for playing! Should we or should we not follow the advice of the galactically… stupid!”

Thought I was going to mention this famous exchange didn’t you?

That’s WHY the movie is so fantastic.  There are so many iconic and legendary moments.  I love everything about this movie but every time I think about how the story is structured and how well the characters are developed I just want to launch Final Draft and lose track of time.

A Few Good Men changed everything because of story, dialogue, action and drama.

Screenwriting.

Every aspiring screenwriter has a set of films they hold dear to their hearts.

A Few Good Men is at the top of my list for millions of reason but there is one reason that sticks out for me.

Inspiration.

Something every creative person craves.

Like a drug you can’t stop feeding your pressing need to write.

Thankfully, all I have to do is pop the DVD in and let my imagination  come alive.

Movies That Changed Everything: There Will Be Blood

September 2, 2010 at 9:09 am

Movies That Changed Everything: There Will Be Blood

I’m an aspiring filmmaker.  Like every filmmaker out there, I have a lengthy list of films that have inspired me along the way.  This series will examine twelve of the films that changed the way I looked at movies forever.  Films that have greatly influenced the filmmaker I hope to become someday…

There Will Be Blood

Daniel Day Lewis Daniel Plainview There Will Be Blood

Character is king.

If you can create a character strong enough to carry a film practically alone you are a gifted and talented storyteller.

This is what I strive to be.

It’s easy to set your goals high when you have movies like There Will Be Blood to turn to for inspiration.  Paul Thomas Anderson created an incredible screenplay based on (what I’m assuming is) an equally incredible novel.

There Will Be Blood feeds my constant need to feel inspired. To be excited about telling stories.

It’s addictive.

Daniel Plainview is a fascinating character and thanks to Daniel Day-Lewis’ performance, he will surely go down as one of the best characters in film history.  However, the story doesn’t rely only on it’s main character.  The entire world is unique and interesting.  I love the quiet pacing of the film and the way it portrays the oil industry.  Everything about this movie is inspiring in subtle but profound ways.

I truly feel like an amazing group of artists got together and created something legendary with this film.

The perfect storm.

Daniel Day Lewis Daniel Plainview There Will Be Blood Paul Thomas Anderson

Yet it’s the character that I keep coming back to.Watching Mr. Plainview descend deeper and deeper into darkness is an unreal journey to witness.  Every single time I see it, it makes me want to sit down and create something new and original.  It makes me want to be a better writer.

It makes me want to really put the work in and develop a complex character.This is no easy task.  Still, continually putting in the effort is inspiring enough.  Just the thought of creating someone like Daniel Plainview keeps me going.  It keeps me typing.  It keeps my imagination running wild.  The possibilities are endless.

It’s easy to say There Will Be Blood changed the way I looked at movies.  This brilliant film literally changed the way I think about film and my entire approach to writing interesting characters.

Effort.  Creativity.  Fun.

These are the elements that keep me glued to the screen.

Blank pages beware.

Movies That Changed Everything: Pan’s Labyrinth

August 24, 2010 at 9:56 am

Movies That Changed Everything: Pan's Labyrinth

I’m an aspiring filmmaker.  Like every filmmaker out there, I have a lengthy list of films that have inspired me along the way.  This series will examine twelve of the films that changed the way I looked at movies forever.  Films that have greatly influenced the filmmaker I hope to become someday…

Pan’s Labyrinth

Movies That Changed Everything: Pan's Labyrinth

How did Pan’s Labyrinth change everything for me?  One word:

Imagination

Guillermo Del Toro has one of the most original and artistic imaginations in the world.  The pic above is a perfect example of this.

Pan’s Labyrinth was one of those movies that looked so amazing that I bought it without having seen it.

I literally left my apartment, purchased it and watched it that night.  Fantastic decision on my part.

Pan’s Labyrinth essentially reignited my love of fairy tale movies.  I was blown away.

It’s such an original and dark story set in essentially TWO worlds I’ve never seen before.  The first being Spain during a civil war and the second being the fairy tale world.

The movie is a perfect balance of the two and overflowing with imaginative characters and imagery.  Above all else, the director ties everything together with incredible characters and a story that has stuck with me every since.

It’s strange saying this but I can never make it through the movie in one sitting.  I mean that as a compliment as I always end up stopping it and writing for a while before returning to finish the film.

I’m extremely thankful of every film that gets me in front of a computer to write.  Especially one with so much originality and imagination.

Pan’s Labyrinth makes me want to be a better writer.  It makes me want to create better characters and stories.  It makes me want to work harder and set my goals higher.

It’s definitely a movie that changed everything.