Inspiration and Goals: Notes of an Aspiring Director
by Robert Hoffman
I remember my mother putting the VHS tape of Jaws into the VCR when I was around 3 or 4 years old. At the time I was very interested in Sharks and would go off to the library with my mother to check out books & learn every single fact about them. Since I loved sharks so much my mother thought it would be a great idea to show a 3-year-old Jaws. She went off to use the bathroom after she put the tape in, leaving me completely alone with the movie. As soon as I see the woman getting violently attacked in the water I freaked out. I ran over to the bathroom where my mother was and started pounding on the door. I was screaming for her to let me in; she quickly did. I was shaking and crying in the corner while my mother was trying to finish her business. Even though I was nowhere near water I was terrified that I was going to be attacked by a giant shark (taking showers and baths soon became a nightmare for me and my parents).
That was my earliest memory of watching a film & it made me stay out of the ocean since then (I’m 22 now, plus the beach is boring anyway). That was my first introduction to the power of film and as a kid you take everything you see on screen seriously. Aspiring to be a film director was an on and off idea I had growing up. It always stayed in the back of my mind as other career ideas popped into my head and shouted at me to pursue them. When I was in middle school I got into horror movies, which is ironic because when I was young I thought Scooby Doo was the most terrifying show on TV. I was scared of anything frightening, yet for some reason horror films attracted me. The suspense and the scares become addicting I suppose. After watching George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead and the behind the scenes documentary for it, I immediately wrote short screenplays for fun. They were mostly about zombie apocalypses and other end of the world scenarios. I shared them with my friends and hearing their feedback made me want to write more & watch more movies. Filmmakers like Stanley Kubrick, Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, James Cameron and many others quickly became my influences.
It wasn’t until after I graduated high school and dropped out of college when I seriously considered entering the film industry. In 2013 I signed up for a six-week film workshop for New York Film Academy. It was intense and hands on, but I enjoyed my experience enough to do it again. A few months after the six-week course I hopped onto a bus to New York City for a one-year documentary program; not knowing what to expect. Living in the Big Apple for a year was an amazing experience for me. It was the first time I was away from my family and totally independent. My teachers taught me skills I’ll carry for the rest of my life and my classmates soon became my new family. Being on a film set was like being on a playground for me even if I wasn’t directing my own film. I enjoyed hearing film roll through the camera and you get used to feeling the heat from the stage lights right next to you.
I enjoyed my time In New York so much I’m hoping to save up and go back again and further pursue my path to become a filmmaker. I would love to have people experience the same feelings I had when I watched movies for the first time not knowing what would happen. I couldn’t imagine being something else like an accountant or a lawyer. We only have one life to live and I’m using it to follow my dreams. You should too; I can’t wait for what the future holds for me.