One of the most motivating and fruitful areas of inquiry for learners can be to investigate the early paths of diverse individuals as they navigate their ways into professional, creative, and adult lives. I was very satisfied to have been able to document some compelling stories in the interviews done for Moving Images, such as those with Greg Butler, David Riker, and Hiro Narita. In relation to filmmaking professionals, particularly directors, there are many books published in recent years that document perspectives about how these creators started their careers, such as Breaking In by Nicholas Jarecki, The Mind of the Modern Moviemaker by Josh Horowitz, My First Movie (1 and 2) by Stephen Lowenstein, and Moviemakers’ Master Class by Laurent Tirard. For me, good places to start are with Doug Liman or Michel Gondry in Horowitz’s book. And from this summer, a great early-in-the-directing-career story emerged with the discovery and restoration of Orson Welles’s film Too Much Johnson.
The New York Times just wrapped up an excellent series in this vein: They asked a variety of creative and critical professionals about first inspirations that may have begun them on their journey to a professional life in their artistically-oriented field of endeavor. The series, titled First Crush, features many great short pieces, including TV critic Alessandra Stanley’s essay on the perils of keeping your children from watching television. There is a nicely diverse selection of narratives here, and featured articles are available about television, theater, video games, dance, and more. One of the most refreshing aspects of the article “Remembering the Spark that Ignited a Creative Fire” is that the people interviewed here are not famous celebrities (at least to our students); they are professionals who have found fulfillment and success in a career of their choice. Of particular note for media literacy are the pieces by Katie Chironis (a game designer for Microsoft Studios) and actor Evan Handler.