Please excuse my rambling but to tell a complete stranger the impact they have made on me is not something that comes easy. The reason I am doing this now directly relates with the sad passing of Roger Ebert. Ebert was a huge influence on me and inspired me more than I ever realized. Unfortunately he died before I could write and tell him thanks and this is something I don’t want to happen again to the people who have influenced me. So here we are and this is the reason I am writing you.
In the fall of 2000 I was starting my sophomore year of college and I was an early childhood education major. At this time I was starting to really get worried that the path I was on was not the correct one for me. I was afraid to chance it all and try to do something that I really loved, which was working with movies, because there were not as many opportunities out there in that field. This was on my mind when I saw down with my girlfriend in a dark theater to see the new movie for a promising writer/director called Almost Famous.
Within a half hour I didn’t think this movie was made for anyone but me. Switch out film for rock and I WAS William Miller. Being totally consumed with my passion for movies and loving it so much that most conversations and relationships revolved around cinema was my life at the moment, much like William’s and rock. The movie showed that it was cool to be uncool a good decade before it reached the mainstream and was a roadmap to follow to reach your dreams and I felt like this movie grabbed me and shook me from my stupor.
On the way back to campus I was still on a high from the movie and I told my girlfriend that I was thinking about changing my major from education to journalism to become a film critic. My girlfriend looked straight at me and told me to do it and don’t think about it. (this is why I was smart and married her, she kicks my ass when I need it). After that day I started working for the student newspaper as a film critic and ended up graduating with a film minor. Now, 10 years later I work at an ad agency as the production coordinator and get to help with commercials and videos for our client. While I might not be in Hollywood, I am involved in the medium that I love. I also have never stopped writing about film and write as often as I can here.
While Almost Famous was the biggest influence on my life, many of your characters are templates on how to be a better man, something I always am striving to be/do. Jerry Maguire, Lloyd Dobler, Ben Mee, you write wonderful characters that are good people struggling to be better and I love them. I even live with the mantra WWLDD, what would Lloyd Dobler do. With I enjoy stories with anti-heroes like Breaking Bad and The Sopranos I love how your films have an abundance of heart and soul and hope you never change.
Finally, I want to say thank you for exposing me to Billy Wilder. The Apartment is my favorite film and I have done a whole director series on the films of Wilder on my website and this all stems from your love of him. Thanks to your book (which is my favorite book of all time) I was exposed to Wilder much sooner than I would have been otherwise and I have tried to “pay it forward” by making my family and friends understand what made him so great.
Thanks for this and many other things. You have helped shape me in a small way and I am thankful for it. I can’t wait for your next film and know that no matter what, there will be a guy in Central Illinois in the theater opening night waiting to be moved again.