It's no surprise that guys working in ad production are drawn to movies. Films have story, composition, lighting, color, subtext, a soundtrack – everything you could want for inspiration. When we started this post, #7favfilms was trending on social media. However, when we actually were able to narrow our lists down, the trend had come and gone.
But, we decided to post it anyway.
We hope you enjoy this glimpse into our crazy heads.
(Disclaimer: Some write ups may be completely bonkers and/or what the movies could have been.)
1. THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (1980)
Being dropped off at 9 years old at a public theater on opening night of a new Star Wars film release may seem over the top in todays social landscape, but that was one of the big benefits of living in small town USA in the summer of 1980. The Empire Strikes Back roared into my hometown and I had to see it! My family had other plans, but not me, I was going to see this film some how some way on opening night! It was my very first movie to be seen all on my own, front row center, with popcorn and drink by my side.
From beginning to end, it was fantastic in the eyes of this former 9 year old, and the formation of my creative imagination. This film made the impossible seem possible. If you can dream it, you can do it. It meant that my imagination had no ceiling. Spaces were wide-open now. I bet I wrote over a hundred short stories, collected Star Wars comics and drew just about everyday afterward. The film's morality played a big role in my life as well growing up. In elementary terms, “Don’t be a bad guy, be a good guy with a good group of buds that help people.”
2. CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND (1977)
I never saw this film in theaters, but I bet I watched this everyday after school for a solid year. My family got our first VCR in the Fall of 1983. Of course you could watch movies on rented VHS tapes from the only video store in town at the time, but I recorded Close Encounters of the Third Kind off a local broadcast TV station (commercials and all). The VCR had a wired-remote, and I use to pause the film to study the effects. I was really interested in effects as a kid.
There were no real behind the scenes documentaries or specials broadcast on regular TV back then. We didn’t have cable, so I was at the mercy of the 2 channels we did have from our antenna, ABC and NBC. When Close Encounters was advertised to premiere on ABC Saturday Night movies, I made it a point to be there in front of our 13 inch color TV, with VCR remote in hand and VHS tape ready to record. The cinematography and camera work in this film is really fantastic. It highly influenced my wanting to get into video production. I still get ideas off the film some 30 years later.
3. STAR WARS: A NEW HOPE (1977)
My Mom had remarried just before summer of 1979. My step-Dad took me and my younger brother to see a re-release of Star Wars: A New Hope at our local theater, and it was my very first PG movie ever. We all sat on the front row, and as soon as the title sequence popped on screen, we were all blown back into our seats. My step-Dad had already seen the film a few years prior, but this was my and my younger brothers' first time. I remember actually leaning forward when the giant Imperial Star Destroyer roared overhead. The music was captivating. The sound effects was amazing. The effects were hypnotizing and the picture on screen was just overwhelming. Every Star Wars fan can tell you what Star Wars means to them personally. But no Star Wars fan can describe what they felt like when seeing Star Wars on the big screen for the first time. It truly is indescribable. To me, I can only best describe it as “One of a kind experience!”
4. OCEANS ELEVEN (2001)
If the word “cool” ever had a film, it would be Oceans Eleven. This film to me, is spot-on when it comes to a great buddy “heist” movie. From the films cinematography, to its music, the wardrobe, cast and storyline, what a great film to watch over and over again. The camera angles and editing in this movie just captivates the senses. And the story even pays off at the end. I remember watching this film for the first time think “How in the world are these guys going to knock over 3 casinos in one night and get away with it?” The end of this picture is so great and so “dude-perfect” it made my top 5 movies of all time. Most people have Shawshank as most being a “must-see” movie every time it’s on cable TV. Mine is Danny Ocean and the boys, and always will be!
5. THE BEST OF TIME (1986)
Probably the funnest movie I’ve ever seen. It’s not the big laugh moments, but the little ones that make the most impact. The sweet story of a hometown boy who dropped the game winning pass as a high school senior that cost the town a state championship, is the main storyline. But the best storyline of the film is that of friendship. Old friends pushing each other to get out of the negative state of mind they have lived with for over 20 years, and do something special to correct it all by playing the game again. A do over! Robin Williams and Kurt Russell will make you laugh and tear up over and over again in this film. It’s a sports movie with a great message, but man it will make you laugh throughout. Robin Williams at his best! It really taught me how to not settle. And "can’t" is all in the mind.
6. THE GOONIES (1985)
This film I know is corny, but it did hit me at the same age as the cast were at the time. Again, it was a great shot to my imagination. Even though the film has its moments, it was funny and fun when watching it with a few of my junior high friends. After we all left the theater, a few of us began writing short stories. My friends would do the creative writing and I would illustrate out the ideas. Today, as a creative professional, we call that storyboarding. The Goonies taught me how to work with a group of creative people - how to share ideas. That’s the truth!
7. THE BREAKFAST CLUB (1986)
The social movie event of 9th grade. A group of friends and I watched this film on HBO. This film was one that taught me to be friends with everyone. Not to judge a book by its cover. I was friends with everyone in my school years. My family and I moved a lot. When I was in junior high, as well as senior high, we moved 5 times. I had a VHS of The Breakfast Club that a friend recorded from HBO. Man, I wore that film out. I would watch that movie every time I switched schools. Besides listening to my mixed-tape cassette collection my friends made me, this film was the only familiar daily routine I would use to calm myself down and be less stressed switching to a new school. This film will always be my most familiar friend. MTV was a real close second! And really, if you were a teen in the late 80’s, who can forget that soundtrack?
This is an example of perfect viewing experience meets great cinematography. I saw this in LA in a great theater, which gave the film more of an impact. Regardless, the use of color, framing and music really sets this off as my favorite film at the moment.
2. O Brother, Where Art Thou?
I believe this is the movie I quote most often. Of course, you can't go wrong with a Coen Brothers movie shot by Roger Deakins. You just can't.
"Say, any of you boys smithies? Or, if not smithies per se, were you otherwise trained in the metallurgic arts before straitened circumstances forced you into a life of aimless wanderin'?"
3. Star Wars
It's hard to choose which of the original trilogy is my favorite. I grew up with ROTJ on repeat (yes I knew the plot twist before I saw Empire). Empire is the best story. But A New Hope is set apart because it was originally a one-off. No one knew it would spawn into the mega-franchise it is today. It was a huge risk, but it paid off for decades to come.
4. Ocean's 12
When I tell people that 12 is on my list, they're curious. Usually, people love 11. But the side conversations and crazy music just put this one over the top for me. Plus, the lost in translation scene cracks me up every time.
5. The Raid
You'd be hard-pressed to find a better example of brutal fight choreography. The plot is simple, the characters are basic, the dialogue is Indonesian (unless you watch it with the horrible English dub), but the physicality and artfulness of the fight scenes (of which is the entire movie practically) are unmatched.
6. The Shawshank Redemption
This is another beautiful classic shot by Roger Deakins. But it's the story and characters that draw me in. I don't think I'll ever get over "Brooks was here".
7. No Country for Old Men
Ok...one more by Roger Deakins. His work becomes invisible because it's that good. It serves the story. Again, it's the dialogue of 2 scenes that push this to such a high mark. Watch the movie and pay attention to the conversation with the gas station proprietor and the conversation with the trailer park manager's assistant.
A (then) modern ghost comedy featuring the greatest comedic actors and special effects of the era. Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi chew up scenery in this future-set sci-fi/horror/comedy, inspiring young Derek to have decent taste in film.
Bill Murray and Ivan Reitman’s take on the Dark Knight of Gotham really took me by surprise. Although the script by Tom Mankiewicz can be a bit campy, the Reitman/Murray team hit a home run.
3. Teenage mutant Ninja Turtles
A TV news reporter suffers PTSD and severe hallucinations after falling victim to a violent mugging.
4. Back to the Future
This rip-roaring time travel adventure featuring a Jeff Goldblum as the eccentric Dr. Brown and Eric Stoltz as Marty captivated me from my first viewing as a small child. Perfectly written, perfectly directed, designed, acted, edited, etc. Plus, who doesn’t love a time traveling Ford Mustang?!
Vince Vaughn and Anne Heche star in a nail-biting original script by up and coming screenwriter Al Hitchcock.
An intensely-acted drama from the mind of Alfred Yankovic about an independent TV station competing with a national broadcast affiliate.
7. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
A well-researched documentary about dangerous mind-wiping practices.
I was having a hard time deciding so I made up some guidelines for myself:
Favorite zombie movie: Dawn of the Dead (1978)
Favorite Kubrick movie: Full Metal Jacket (1987)
Because Anthony Hopkins is amazing: The Silence of The Lambs (1991)
Favorite Tarantino movie: Reservoir Dogs (1992)
Favorite movie as a kid: Jurassic Park (1993)
Favorite Fincher movie: Seven (1995)
Favorite movie as a teenager: The Matrix (1999)