There’s no shame in my game
by Abby Ex
I was once interviewing for an executive job at a production company, when the producer who ran it asked me to tell him my favorite movie. I looked him in the eye, and with a completely straight face answered,
Now this guy, who had produced some pretty dubious films himself, looked at me with something akin to disgust and said,
“You should probably never tell anyone that.”
Needless to say I didn’t get that job. But it did make me think about my taste. I know I could’ve responded with some of my more high-brow favs, like Children of Men, Tell No One, The Sting, The Usual Suspects, 2001: A Space Odyssey, etc. I went to film school after all and my resume would lead you to believe I actually do like quality films. But if I’m going to be really honest about what movies I LOVE, there’s nothing better to me than a sentimental musical. And I dare anyone to not start immediately weeping when Barbara Hershey dies in Beaches.
I’m not ashamed of my taste and I know where it comes from. My parents are non-industry folks in Chicago, who just happen to love movies as well, so I was raised on a strange but steady diet of Disney and Almodovar. My parents would equally pop in the VHS for Dumbo as they would Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. It was normal to me to be reading subtitles as soon as I learned how to read. I will be forever grateful to my parents for exposing me to such a wide range of films as I was growing up, lending to my campy yet commercial sensibility today.
But there’s one movie from my childhood that truly changed everything. When I was 11 years-old my parents let me and my then 6 year-old sister watch The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
Yes, that may have been a little risqué for a not-even-teenager to watch; but the music, the tension, and Tim Curry’s corset had me riveted. I watched it so many times I had every word and song memorized. We named our family dog, a little white West Highland Terrier, “Rocky”. And for my 12th birthday I DEMANDED my parents let me dress up as “Magenta” and go with my best friend and sister to a Midnight show. It was at that dirty movie theater, seeing how a film inspired people to dress up like trannies and hurl both expletives and burnt toast at a movie screen in the middle of the night, that I knew what I wanted to do with my life. I wanted to be able to tell stories that were this powerful.
So that’s my barometer when evaluating a script or new cut of a film today. Does it give me that kind of visceral and powerful reaction? Am I giggling reading lines? Am I so scared watching a horror movie or thriller that I’m reaching for some Xanax? If so, then I know the script has potential or a film is really coming together.
Luckily I’ve been incredibly fortunate in my professional life to work for producers who I believe feel the same way. I was at Focus Features during the production of Brokeback Mountain (sobbed while reading the script), I was at The Weinstein Company for Inglorious Bastards (hooting and hollering throughout the director’s cut) and now I’m fortunate enough to be working at a company with its name on Argo (definitely needed Xanax while screening that one). I get to learn at the side of people making today’s powerful films and it‘s a humbling experience for that 12 year-old Rocky Horror superfan.
So while I may not get a job by being honest about my favorite films, I know why I love the films I do and why they inspire me.
And in the words of the wise philosopher Frank-N-Furter, “Don’t dream it, be it”.Tags: Abby Ex, Film and TV business, Film lover, Films that inspire, G-K Films, Hollywood, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, The Weinstein Company