Five Movies That Inspire Young Creatives

Academy Gold interns share their picks

The Academy
Aug 11, 2017 · 7 min read

This summer, the Academy launched the Gold program, an industry-wide diversity internship initiative. Nearly 70 interns worked across 20 Los Angeles-based companies, ranging from studios to talent agencies. These students are the future of film. Here, they share the movies that motivated them to pursue a career in the industry.

Frances Ha (2012)

Jocelyn Contreras, Sony intern

As for many aspiring writers and directors, film has been the constant in life that I take solace in. Sometimes it’s just cosmic timing, when I stumble upon a character that illuminates exactly what I need in that moment, but through and through, the power of this medium goes far beyond entertainment. I would always leave the movie theater in a daze accompanied by a longing to one day helm my own film. But the odds terrified me.

Once I started college, everyone around me was studying a subject they were passionate about. Why wasn’t I letting myself do the same?

Gold intern Jocelyn Contreras

Then along came Noah Baumbach’s featherlight touch in Frances Ha. What is most beautiful to me is that Frances, an aspiring dancer played by Greta Gerwig, finds success — just not the exact kind she envisioned in her youth. Watching her confront all too familiar struggles and forces out of her control made me realize that, while nothing in this life is certain, my passion for film is unwavering, and I’m ready to let it guide me through the obstacles that are yet to come. It may not happen exactly the way I plan, but that actually excites me now. Thank you, Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig for creating something so dear to my heart.

High Noon (1952)

Angie Villafañe, Academy intern

Growing up, movies were an entertainment ritual in my family every weekend. But they became something more when I saw Fred Zinnemann’s High Noon for the first time in 8th grade English class. Through it, my teacher taught us about the concept of duty, and I became fascinated with how it affected Kane and Amy’s moral struggles. It was the first time I studied the human condition, something I became passionate about and continued to do through my humanities degree in college.

Gold intern Angie Villafañe

I began working in an archive and studying archival science in graduate school. Then I heard a terrifying statistic:

More than 90% of American films made before 1929 are lost.

It was the first time I felt in my core the importance of my future field. I became overwhelmed with urgency and an intense moral pull I could not describe. Then I realized what I was feeling: duty — a concept I understood for the first time while watching High Noon as a 13-year-old.

I am now interning at the Academy Film Archive, and hope to become a film archivist or librarian. As someone who is training in the science of preserving cultural heritage, and whose life has been shaped in numerous ways by film, it is my duty to become its custodian. I owe it to movies, and I owe it to the next 13-year-old who discovers their own humanity and passion through a film made way before they were even born.

Up (2009)

Nicholas Sy, HBO intern

When I first saw Pixar’s Up during its opening weekend, the story left such an impression on me. I found the emotional montage of Carl and Ellie moving, and the action sequences were clever in their use of flight and great heights. But it was the ending that inspired me most.

Gold intern Nicholas Sy

The final image of the house sitting next to Paradise Falls was surprising and satisfying because, at that point in the film, both Carl and the audience had already accepted that the house was lost. Then, the film closed with the image that Ellie had imagined all along — the goal that Carl was constantly chasing.

This unexpected yet emotional ending helped me realize the power of filmmaking.

After several repeat viewings, I learned how well the film uses different elements to tell its story, including caricatured character design, immersive sound and a poignant yet sweeping score. As I became more curious about the craft of filmmaking, it eventually led me on a path to editing, which I am pursuing today — in part because of this imaginative, whimsical and heartfelt story.

The Apartment (1960)

Eliana Pipes, HBO intern

I first saw The Apartment when I was about nine years old. Something about the colors on the cover drew me in. Little did I know, it was only the cover that’s colorized. The actual film is in black and white. I felt cheated through the opening credits but I stuck with it, and I’m glad I did, because The Apartment became the film that made me want to be a filmmaker.

Gold intern Eliana Pipes

It’s just over two hours long — but Billy Wilder needs every minute, because The Apartment somehow manages to take a viewer through the complete range of human emotion in one sitting. As a writer, I’m interested in works that traverse genres, and in this respect, I think The Apartment is the Holy Grail. It’s a warm romantic comedy that has a suicide attempt: it contains elements of psychological manipulation, corporate commentary, steamy New York nightlife and everything in between. The film deftly draws the viewer in, and guides them through such a wide range of feeling and empathy.

Watching that film, it was hard to imagine anything that could be more important than making others like it.

I’m not alone in feeling inspired by this film; dozens of filmmakers cite it as one of the greats. But one of the many joys of the Academy Gold program has been that, just last week at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater, I got to see one of the Oscars that The Apartment won in 1960. I can’t help but feel like The Apartment followed me full circle — but that’s how it crumbles, cookie-wise.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)

Dora Palmer, FOX intern

No art, no soundtrack and no film melts me more than Walt Disney’s 1937 Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. I remember watching it over and over as a child, reliving the warmth, terror and redemption every week, occasionally several times in a single day.

The frame-by-frame animation is so complete and delicate that even the still settings take on personalities of their own.

Gold intern Dora Palmer

The soundtrack is combined so seamlessly with the artwork that I can remember growing emotional as a child, spellbound by the imagination and tenderness with which the film unfolds. These qualities moved me to begin illustrating and composing music, but it was Snow White’s characters that inspired my greatest passion of all.

The dwarfs, each representing a human frailty, evolve into heroes of the highest caliber without deviating from their true selves. Snow White isn’t an active hero; rather, she is kind and humble to such an extent that she inspires those around her to act with similarly dignified softness and humility. Her message encourages the audience to soften their hearts. These are the types of heroes I have always dreamed of becoming, and why I aspire to pursue my course as a filmmaker.

This world is not as charming as one with helpful woodland creatures and singing wishing wells, but that does not mean it should not foster imagination so vivid and kind as to stir compassion on a global scale. Filmmaking possesses this ability, whether in 1937 or 2017, and it is my hope that I will be able to do the same using the most effective method I know.

Learn more about Academy Gold, including how to apply or get your company involved, HERE.


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