As a film school alum, no cinema question phases me in theslightest. “What’s your favorite Billy Wilder film?” SOME LIKE IT HOT. “Who isyour favorite foreign director?” Easy – Pedro Almodovar. “What do youwant to be when you grow up?” Please – writer/director and probably aproducer, especially if I want to have my own production company.
I can shoot off answers to questions like these all daylong. But sometimes, questions comealong that require a little more thought. One of the interns here at the office asked me one day what I’d like todo in the future. Again, no hesitationwhatsoever: “I’d like to write and direct my own films, and essentially own myown production company.” I didn’t even stutter. “Oh wow,” she replied, “well, what type ofstories do you want to write?” “I –…” I paused. The immediate answer didn’t come to me. So many options ran through my head: good stories, of course, but notcheesy good, really feel-good stories, ones that make you feel your heart inyour throat. But not leave a theatersobbing…
What type of stories do I want to write? I had to tell her I would get back to herbecause I didn’t honestly know. Eversince she asked me, I have thought long and hard about this. I finally realized I should examine a few ofmy favorite films for this answer. Theone that truly stuck out in my mind was THE WIZARD OF OZ. Do I want to write a story about a rural girlwho gets whacked in the head and dreams she’s in a magical land? Not exactly. So what is it about this film that makes it one of my favorites?
It was the first time I had really ever dissected a story,really got into the cracks to see what makes it so appealing to me. And there, I discovered my answer: I used towatch this film all the time as a child. I would sing all of the songs, and make believe that I, too, couldtravel somewhere magical. I used thisstory as a basis for wanting to dream, for wanting to explore places that Icould only imagine, and maybe even go there someday. But like Dorothy, I remembered the importanceof home and how much family means to me. I vividly remember watching this film the night before I left forcollege and crying my eyes out, because I knew that my life was about to change.
And it hit me: those are the types of stories Iwant to write. The ones that evokememories, that trigger that deep feeling and emotion within us that only weknow. I want to write stories that makesomeone remember the importance of all the people in their life, and how takinga risk can be worthwhile. I want towrite stories that make someone realize that it is perfectly alright to beexactly the type of person that they are.
I’ll have to tell that intern that I finally know the answerto her question! But for today, I alsochallenge you to answer the question of: what kind of stories do youwant to tell?
— Marcie Mayhorn, Austin Film Festival Office Manager