Thank you, Roger Ebert.
I was a senior in high-school when I had my first film class. Having completed all of my requisite courses for graduation in my first three years at Coloma High, I was relieved to finally have had electives to choose from. I was late registering for classes at the time so phys ed was out of the question. Intro to film was my second option.
I didn’t take it seriously. I had always loved movies, but I never imagined them as an artwork. I had taken the class hoping to slide by, by watching movies from the back of the classroom, away from the intellect and away from anything that could lay stress on my brain. I had thought that “Transformers” was the greatest movie ever created. I had thought that clish clash boom and cool stunts were the forces driving a films story-line.
Midway through my first semester I was assigned a critic to study, then to discuss. The assignment irritated me. I was a senior and this class was supposed to be filler-material. I didn’t intend to learn anything.
Anyone who has ever read anything by Roger knows that he was a master of his craft. Writing was his trade and film was a passion he expressed himself through and to be introduced to his work through an assignment that I was not interested in is great blessing.
One of the first reviews I had read by Mr. Ebert was that of “Fargo” which was directed by the Ethan and Joel Coen. In that review I found a passion not only for film, but for writing and for art in general. I learned from Roger that if you are careful and dedicated that you can craft the darkest canvas into something bright and beautiful.
After that assignment I dove in. I studied David Fincher, Martin Scorsese, James Cameron, Ridley Scott amongst other prominent and not-so-prominent names in the film industry.
That was 6 years ago.
Recently I watched “Birdman.” I compared some of the techniques used in Alejandro’s deservedly award winning film to ones used in Orson Welles’ “Touch of Evil” then later in Robert Altman’s “The Player.”
I thought to myself, “Damn… What a great film. Roger would have loved this.”
Thanks Roger, for being more to me, and to others, than you had to be.