For the Love of Film

Allison Ditzig ’17

From the April 2015 Issue

I was in Elementary School when Papa came home with the family’s first camcorder. “This is very expensive, you three, so you’re not allowed to touch it,” he told me and my two sisters – we were all gathered on a couch for a family meeting. “Your mother and I splurged on a camera so we can make more home-tapes. But with this one, we don’t need the VHS. We can record you guys and then plug this into our TV and watch the videos we make straightaway!” He pulled the AVI cable out of the camcorders bag for us all to see, as if we were old enough to understand. I nodded in agreement anyway.

“This is not a toy and only adults can use it,” Mama added.

My youngest sister Courtney was at the un-ripened age of two and was picking her toes, not listening. Lauren, the eldest, had already let out at least three sighs since we were first seated. After all, she was almost ten; under no circumstances did she need to be told twice about things like this.

As for myself… a lightbulb emerged. I saw nothing but an opportunity.

It was around this time that I constructed my first forbidden operation: “Let’s Make A Movie.” All it required was convincing my sisters to help, staying up late enough to sneak into our father’s office, apprehending the off-limits device, creating our movie and then, most importantly, deleting it before the sun rose.

“They’ll know we messed with it!” Lauren protested. Perhaps asking Courtney to jump on her wasn’t the most pleasant means of waking her up.

“You heard Papa, they’re not on tapes! Besides, when are we ever going to be able to make our own movie ever again?!” I whisper-shouted back, ironically foreshadowing my future collegiate choices. This got her smiling. The operation was officially a-go.

Everything went swimmingly. All night the three of us took turns using the camera, coming up with ideas and playing different characters. By morning we created a “horror movie” that went a little… well… less than swimmingly. (In our defense our only experience with the horror genre was an accidental peek at a scary movie trailer or two in between episodes of our parents watching The Simpsons at dinner.)

The product isn’t what was important, nor is the fact that I got grounded for a week due to me encouraging my sisters to break the rules… what’s important was that my sisters and I had a blast in the process, and thanks to them joining me, I was able to experience that sense of creative collaboration so early in my life. The downside was that I was able to experience creative collaboration so early… so I never wanted to do anything else. Needless to say, the rule breaking didn’t stop there. The upside was that while I have yet to cease being a ruffian, the learning along the way has been mutually never ending when it comes to filmmaking.

With my first “movie” circa 2001, I learned the harsh lesson of what “formatting” was; that even if I delete a file, it’s still sorta technically on the card and you can still totally technically get grounded.

When I was a in high school, I learned the power of our craft; in creating a documentary on the foreclosure crisis I managed to make bigger waves in my community than my angsty attempts at protest – destroying the interiors of foreclosed homes in a desperate pursuit to “fight back the banks” – did. I learned then that a movie is more than a movie – it’s sharing knowledge, a voice, a story, and potentially a movement. Whether you’re a filmmaker or not, you’re a part of something when you join others in the theatre for a mutual experience of that story represented. We all hold a love for some aspect or genre of film. For me, it’s how much individual and collaborative hard work goes into each and every one and I simply adore sitting back and appreciating what’s been made amongst friends. For my own love of film; that’s why I’m here.

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