When I was a kid, I always enjoyed making movies. We had a VHS camera, and I’d always try to film something with my reluctant family, even going as far as to pen an adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol that no one wanted to act out. When I turned fourteen, my parents bought me an iMac to edit films, but alas – I still lacked actors for my movies. I turned to filming illustrations I made and putting them into sad slide shows that were not quite animations.
So when my grandma gave me a camera last year for my birthday, I was skeptical. I hadn’t filmed in years, and I still lacked subjects to film. But she was so proud of this gift and all the little accessories that came with it, from the cleaning rags to the mini tripod. Wanting to please her, I took the camera to New Hampshire and showed her all my footage when I returned: geese, loons, water, sunsets. Raw nature. And when the school year started, I put the camera away because there was no way I’d be able to use it with a busy schedule.
Months passed. She passed.
And our annual Spring Show fundraiser loomed in the distance. I wasn’t in the mood. Our theme this year was Hollywood and film, hence the mural bearing the name of our school atop the Hollywood hills. And an idea fluttered into my head: make the opening number a film. Last year’s opening number that traced the history of music stole the show. This year’s opening number, which celebrated music in movies, had to be a film! And not only that – I could resurrect the camera!
I brought the camera to work and began filming students in the seventh and eighth grade. We filmed/parodied as many movies as we could, from Casablanca to even Jurassic Park. All the while, my grandma’s camera sat snugly in my hand as if she were holding my hand. At home, I edited for hours, adding effects and timing the scenes just right. I felt like I was in high school again.
On the night of the show, the gym went dark. The projector turned on. The film began – a makeshift “premiere” for a real audience. Our students celebrated and affectionately parodied classic films. A kid in a ghost costume played with clay as “Unchained Melody” played in the background, only to be chased through the cafeteria by two Ghostbusters. “(I’ve Had) the Time of My Life” played as a girl ran into the arms of a boy – only to be dropped onto the gym floor. The audience laughed.
But my audience was missing someone. On my director’s chair sat a little picture of my grandma watching the movie that she helped me make. I finally had a cast to film, and she gave me the camera to help me finally reach my goal. I had fun, and so did the kids. She should be proud, and I know she would’ve loved the movie.