For the Love of Film

Tony Di Nizo ’19

From the December 2015 Issue

When I was younger, I was diagnosed with a terminal disease. I had contracted cinephilia at the age of three. Now, whether or not that joke was in good taste isn’t the point. The point is that now you’re trapped, reading every word I write. I am here to share with you how the cinephilia started. This is the story of how I fell in love with movies.

My earliest memory is of when I was three: I saw a movie that changed my life. You’re probably wondering how much my life could possibly change at the age of three. But I saw a movie that changed the course and direction of my life. When I was three, I watched Jaws. I know what you’re thinking: “What a great kids movie!” You’re also probably questioning my parents’ ability to censor what I watch. But they didn’t have control over it. My uncle showed me the movie, probably with the intention to scare me. But while the movie did scare me, I’ll never forget the first time I watched it. I was completely captivated—my eyes were glued to the screen for the entire runtime. And after I watched the movie, I needed to see the bonus features. I needed to know how they did that. I remember watching the behind the scenes documentaries and feeling a complete sense of wonder come over me. I was in love with film and I knew it at that moment. I knew what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

Everyone had “that movie.” You know what I’m talking about. The movie that you watched every day—the movie that never got old. For me it was Jaws, and you could probably imagine what my parents and grandparents thought seeing this young boy watching people getting brutally mutilated by a giant great white shark everyday. You’d probably question the child’s moral compass or at the very least his likely destiny of ending up behind bars. But I didn’t watch it for the violence, I watched it for the story, the characters, the score—for everything. It blew me away and whenever I watch it today, it still does.

As I was growing up, a question every kid asked was: “What’s your favorite movie?” It’s a common question asked by your teachers and peers as they try to break the ice in school. But I was always the standout on that question. I’ll never forget any of the teachers’ faces as answers shifted from Toy Story to the latest Barbie movie to Jaws. My answer was always the black sheep of the pack and always garnered the same odd look from the face of every adult that heard my answer. I would love to know what they were thinking after I told them that. I’m sure it’d be something funny.

Film has inspired me for years and continues to inspire me now. I am constantly taken aback by how far things have come and how rapidly things have changed. It seems that every year that there is a film that is breaking new ground in terms of technology.

Pushing all that to the side, there’s one particular memory that strikes me now. I remember being about four. I was doing my daily routine of watching Jaws when my mother came into the room. I pointed to the screen and said, “I want to do that.” She probably shrugged it off because who would believe a four year old would be crazy enough to want to make movies. But that crazy four year old is now in college, getting another step closer to living his dream.

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