She keeps asking me, my Aunt. She is a deeply loving but deeply disappointed person. She spent as long in art school as I did in film school and, poised to retire, she has never gotten to be the artist she wanted to be. Because she loves me, she keeps asking, “Why do you want to make movies?”
The answer is simple, “I don’t.”
What I want is to be a spy. I want to save the world through guile and guts. I want to be a gangster, a Mafioso, a keeper of a criminal code and underworld ideology as seductive as sin, itself. I want to be a vigilante and dispense justice on my own terms. I want to die and talk to the living. I want to travel in space, to see things that others have scarcely imagined. I want to overcome a disability so debilitating that others had always assumed I could never be anything but a burden to society. I want to lead a revolution. I want to be a Kung Fu master. I want to be arrested for a crime I didn’t commit and lead a jailbreak so daring it will never be forgotten. I want to be a cop that was sold out by his own people and go outside the system to avenge the death of my partner. I want to be the most inspiring English teacher in the world. I want to be a war hero, a sports hero and an antihero. I want to hunt zombies. I want to rescue the princess. I want to die slowly of a degenerative illness and change everyone else’s outlook on the world in the doing of it. I want to dodge bullets with grace and ease. I want to get the girl. I want to win the game or diffuse the bomb with one second to spare. I want to have subtitles.
At one time or another I have said to myself that I want to do each of these things, and many others and I want to do them because I saw each in a movie. When I was a lonely little boy in suburban Milwaukee I would waste my Saturdays hopping theatres in the Marcus Cinemas at the end of my block. It was there that my dreams were born, on a yellowing screen, at the rate of twenty-four frames per second, in the twilight of Plato’s cave reborn. I will never get to be a spy and I will never get to be a Kung Fu master. I will never go into space and I will never get to hunt zombies but I can help make dreams for some other lonely little boy.