My son, who I like to call “Chance,” has loved the art of film since he discovered its power in eighth grade.
As a bored 13-year-old he complained every week his history class was the same: read the chapter, answer the questions on the last page.
With some prodding, he asked his teacher, Mr. G, if he could, instead, make a movie to show what he’d learned about one week’s reading.
“Sure,” his Mr. G replied.
It was the Civil War. Chance recruited some classmates. Well, just one classmate, the son of the science teacher.
With his brother, the three boys dressed up in period costumes improvised from jeans and t-shirts and a length of blue fabric I contributed to their cause.
They set up a soldier’s camp and practiced shooting each other with sticks, dramatically clutching their torsos and falling out of trees.
Chance didn’t actually appear in the movie, except for one scene where he rushes across the lawn with an air-gun in his arms and a desperate look on his face.
He used plastic plates and some moldy bagels from the depths of our fridge as props in a camp scene.
He drew the camera in and out and across to liven stills of real Civil War battles and rows of white and sepia brown tents.
And he narrated, providing details he found interesting: he talked about prostitutes in the camps.
He turned it in and returned the following week from school ecstatic. The teacher had not only praised his work, he’d shown it to all six history classes.
The following week, Chance held auditions for his Gold Rush film. He chose two pretty girls and headed for the creek with a gold pan.
This time he added a brief advertisement to the feature; he was running for class representative. If the teacher was going to use his work to teach his class, he was going to pay for it.
“Give Chance some Pants” became his catchy campaign slogan. Wearing only his Mickey Mouse underwear and a button-down shirt, he emerged from behind his podium, shrubs in the backdrop, to announce his candidacy.
The prior year he had offered to shave his shoulder-length blond hair but had lost by six votes to a popular kid.
This time he won.
Fast forward six years. He’s been in film school at Colorado College two years but he’s taken all the film classes and blown up the school’s fastest computer trying to render his films. He’s moving on to the University of Southern California with buildings named after donors like Spielberg and Lucas.
And mom’s job is to get all his microphone stands, camera boxes and backpacks of outdoor gear from central Colorado to Los Angeles.