In 1929, my great-grandfather was living with his family in a mud hut out in the Mojave Desert. They owned a car, but it didn't work. Legend says Great-Grand spent a long time tinkering with it, even inventing a new part that wouldn't require you to crank the car to start it. I've seen pictures of this device, it's real. Had Great-Grand decided to patent it, we might be billionares.
While we never got rich, his tinkering did start a chain reaction that resulted in a whole bunch of mechanics. He got a job as a mechanic, and all his sons became mechanics. My Dad and his brothers all became mechanics. Never owned a shop, mind you. That would have been too ambitious for my relatives. They liked to play it safe.
My Dad, however, didn't care about passing it on. He didn't want his kids to be trapped by family tradition. If I had a question about cars, he'd tell me, he'd show me the insides and talked about how they worked, but only if I asked. He never went "Here, take this screwdriver and come with me."
And I still don't really care about cars. I never ooed and awed over the classic hotrods and the latest in minivan technology. I'm happy as can be with my beat-up 80s Taurus. And as a kid, the mechanics of it all just bored me to death.
No. What I was interested in was movies.
The most I ever wanted to know about cars was how they got the time machine to fly in Back to the Future Part II.
I made my first movie at the age of five. It was five minutes long and was a mock news report about things going on around the house. I later made fan-scripts for episodes of Mr. Roger's Neighborhood and did comics adaptions of my favorite Mickey Mouse cartoons. My favorite movie was Escape From Witch Mountain.
When I was 12, I experimented with stop-motion. I did several one-man Christmas plays (Please don't ask how I made Frosty The Snowman into a one-man play. That was a nightmare) and I got other kids from around town to do plays with me too. I shot most of my family's vacation videos with a huge clunky VHS camera that weighed ten pounds. My favorite movie was Jurassic Park.
In high school, my senior project was a documentary on the private life of teachers. I also did docs for science class on the stages of matter and of the different types of rocks. My favorite movie was Memento.
I'm currently making a documentary on the churchs around town. My favorite movie is F For Fake.
And now, god help me, I'm watching every movie possible that was nominated for an Academy Award.