This month, in honor of Thanksgiving and the spirit of giving thanks, I will be highlighting works of art and events that have shaped & changed my life. Maybe they will change yours too.
“28 Days Later” – a film directed by Danny Boyle that changed my life
Siblings are awesome, especially older ones. I have a sister who is 6 years older than me, which is great because she had a car as soon as she turned 16. This opened up a whole new realm of freedom, of being able to visit theme parks during the humid summer days when the parents were stuck at work. Like any normal teenager, we devoured movies like holy water in an adolescent desert. Especially me, since I didn’t have a minimum wage job to tend to yet, I filled my barren days with vigorous activities that included copious amounts of movie watching. My sister’s license was a passport to all of the local movies theaters.
One of the first movies we saw together was 28 Days Later. Upon initial viewing, we both loved it. As many of you know, it was a fantastic, massively influential zombie/epidemic movie. At the time, there were not many options available when it came to zombie films at the theater. It was fresh, it was different and it still holds up to this day.
28 Days Later didn’t affect me majorly at that first viewing though. My sister and I talked about it amongst ourselves, amongst other people. It wouldn’t be until months and months later after I grabbed a DVD copy when it changed me.
I’m not sure what was happening that day, if anything was different at all or if life was continuing as normal. All I know is, I was perceptive in a way that was more open than usual. I rewatched the film by myself at my house and I REALLY absorbed the images and emotions I was seeing. There was one critical moment in particular that hit a button inside me. Not to spoil a 10+ year old film, but there is a moment when the main character, Jim (played by Cillian Murphy), has lost all hope. He believes the world to be overrun by zombies, and if they’re not one of the undead, they are terrible human beings that are just as threatening. He lays on his back, exhausted – and in the sky above him, he sees an airplane soaring.
It’s a pivotal moment in the film that changes what we believe to know about their world. It hints at a greater society beyond the one currently being witnessed. It’s emotional, to say the least, for Jim. But his emotional state also affected my emotions. At that moment, an idea popped into my head that changed my life.
I want to be a filmmaker.
I had never really thought about that concept until then. I had already been doing music for a few years at that time and decided that to be my sole career in life. Why not film as well? I wished to craft these emotional moments that can affect people in exactly the same manner that I was affected. I loved film so much and could be a part of it. It helped me further realize just how art can shape and change the emotions of spectators, how it can create new perspectives, all in the form of images and music. I was ecstatic for the rest of that day, basking in this newfound path that I walk to this day.
After that moment, I picked up the family camcorder and started working on a new short film I wanted to shoot with my friends. I also got busy writing my first (really terrible) screenplay that I will probably never ever show anyone for as long as I live. For some people, art and entertainment doesn’t change them, it doesn’t shift their life events nor does it alter their viewpoint. But for me, I can point to numerous works that I can see the before/after versions of myself. 28 Days Later is one of the most prominent because it made me make the decision to become a filmmaker.
So thank you Danny Boyle, Alex Garland, and the rest of the cast and crew for making this film.
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