Lives Like Ours #4 - Impetus

Note - This post lacks pictures because the pictures I have from this particular period in my life are all the old-fashioned, hold-them-in-your-hands kind and my scanner's busted. Deal with it.

In the spring of 2001, I was working a job not unlike the one I’m working now and I wasn't crazy about it. The money was decent enough for somebody who didn’t have a degree but it reeked of a career that I was pretty sure didn’t interest me all that much. Something was missing. I didn’t have any idea what it was but I knew it wasn’t there and it was making me miserable.

My schedule ran Wednesday through Sunday. The girl I was living with at the time usually worked the late shift on Mondays so I kept them for myself, doing the mopey twenty-something routine, hitting coffee shops or indulging in the occasional night of binge drinking. On one such Monday, when I was up to my ears in pedestrian things like walking the dog and doing laundry, my buddy Beau stopped by my apartment with a duffel bag full of movies.

I don’t wanna get too philosophical here but, for my money, there are people in our lives that set us on the path to becoming who we’re meant to be. For me, Beau was one of those people. It’s a little grandiose to say that I owe him everything. I owe a lot of people a lot of things. In Beau’s case, I owe him much, much more than I ever got the chance to give him. Here endeth the mushy part.

He showed up that day because the night before, my girlfriend and I had been hanging out at his place and I made the mistake of admitting that I’d never seen Army of Darkness. He gave me the kind of look usually reserved for someone who’s just confessed to molesting puppies. It was a practiced maneuver of his; a spastic jerk of the shoulders, eyes bulging, his voice rising to a high pitched, thoroughly offended crescendo that made you feel six inches tall because you hadn’t seen this movie or didn’t like that record. Coming from anyone else it would have been obnoxious. Coming from Beau it just reminded you of why you dug hanging out with him.

That afternoon was my first lesson in watching movies. As soon as he showed up, he dropped the bag off and we made a quick food run. We came back armed with a sack full of burgers and I sat there eating while Beau pulled out one videotape after another (I didn’t have a DVD player yet). He didn’t say anything. He just held them up, one at a time, so I could give him some indication as to whether or not I’d seen them.

Taxi Driver?

No

Evil Dead II?

No

Reservoir Dogs?

Nope

Citizen Kane?

Negative

And so on and so forth. When he was done, he stacked them all up and said, “I’m leaving these here. You have to watch them."

Then he popped in Army of Darkness and proceeded to break it down for me. He told me about the importance of recognizing movies for what they are. Don’t hold A Nightmare on Elm Street or Evil Dead under the same lens as Casablanca because you'll just be disappointed. He broke down stories for me. He pointed out the nuances of the direction, the writing and the effects. He showed me why he thought Army of Darkness was fucking brilliant. He made me love movies just by showing me why he loved them.

I never learned to love Army of Darkness. To this day I think it’s idiotic. But when Beau left that day, I started loving, really loving, movies. Everything started to change. It would take the better part of the next ten years for those changes to take hold. My life has reset itself a dozen times over since then. In that time, we lost Beau to cancer. He never got to make a movie of his own, something I know he dreamed of doing right up to the end.

I’m not a church-goer and I’m not one for prayer. Not the way most people think of it anyways. But on the first day of shooting of every film I've ever made, before I left for the set, I sat down and talked to Beau. I still read through the scripts I’m working on and I wonder if he would like them. I miss him. If I’ve made anything of substance (the jury’s out on that one), I owe a good chunk of it to him. I make movies for a lot reasons but without Beau, it never would have occurred to me to start making them in the first place.

Ta,

Matt