FINDING THE RIGHT LIGHT
I remember a Tyrannosaurus in the side-view mirror of a jeep.
It was chasing you, and it was gaining. Words in the mirror even noted that it may be closer than it appears.
Much of my early childhood is littered by similar memories from movies. They could be specific scenes or particular moments, sometimes lines, sounds, and even music. Most of them were usually interrupted by me having to flip a giant disc, and press 'play' to continue. This was annoying. But it always built on the anticipation of what was to come next, even more.
The feeling was special. It was unlike anything else. It was an extended moment of transport.
From watching alone with my parents in their room, eventually my brothers joined the fray. Next was cousins, relatives, friends, and so on. The memories that used to be just mine became shared. I could talk about what I had seen with others. I could reminisce, and better yet, reenact. That was fun! We would reenact saying to each other, “Long live the king!” as the other then plummeted into a pile of pillows or sometimes back into the pool. But once in, we never swam to the deep end because a shark was lurking. We don’t have to talk about that.
Soon enough we didn’t just watch things at home anymore. There was this thing called the cinema. Here, we had to buy tickets. We had to line up. We could even buy food and sodas. There were many chairs. They had a smell. But then the lights would turn off. I heard a cow moo. It was loud. I didn’t know what THX stood for, but I liked it. I liked the sound of the cow. And then…there was orchestral fanfare. I had heard this at home before--but never like this. The words flying onscreen said Episode I. This happened 5 more times for me in the next few weeks.
The feeling was special. It was unlike anything else. It was an extended moment of transport. You would be in another world, full of adventures, suspense, horror, grief. Things outside the cinema didn’t matter for the time being. And sometimes when you stepped back outside it was still bright out--this made it feel all the more surreal.
Back in grade school my friends and I would tell stories with ourselves in them. One of us would narrate and discuss the events unfolding, while the rest would act out and say what our character--ourselves--would do next. We always took turns on who was telling the story. I think I always preferred that--the telling, as opposed to the reacting.
But it always built on the anticipation of what was to come next, even more.
Then in high school, one of my English classes had this oral exam. In it, we had to talk for quite some length about anything we liked. We had to stand in front of the entire class, and orate about this particular topic. A few days before the presentation it was the Golden Globe Awards, and Steven Spielberg was the recipient of the Cecil B. DeMille lifetime achievement award that year. He talked about seeing “The Greatest Show on Earth” at a really young age; being wowed by everything he had seen. That was his turning point into the movies, and the rest fell into place afterwards. During my orals I talked about that. I reference the awards show, I talked about Spielberg, and I talked about how I, too, felt the same kind of affection for the movies.
This was maybe the first moment in my life that I remember actively professing my love for the movies. And better yet, that I had wanted to get into the filmmaking of it all--more so than just watching.
There was this thing called the cinema.
The rest, as they say…is still ongoing. But hopefully, just like the Tyrannosaurus in the side-view mirror, things may be closer than they appear.
Story by Quintin Panlilio Cu-Unjieng, Director at Globe Studios