I’ve been looking for this movie all summer.
This was the first movie I ever made. I shot it in the fall of 1988, which means the VHS tape I pulled it from is nearly 30 years old. I was seven and a half at the time and I was found of playing video games. The last six months of my favorite age. We had just moved to Texas. My dad’s friend came to visit, with his camcorder in tow, and I was ready with scripts, props and a cast of siblings. This one was my version of Spielberg’s Poltergeist, which I was aware of but definitely hadn’t seen. Finally having the means to make a movie felt monumental to me. You don’t have to look to closely to see my hanging around the edge of the frame, anxiously making sure things happened the way I intended. It didn’t occur to me to actually look through the viewfinder. Or maybe my dad’s friend just didn’t trust me to hold the camera.
There’s no preternatural brilliance on display here, no innate talent. But I still feel like there’s something there, even if it wasn’t completely intentional.
On the other hand, I made another ghost movie, ten years after this one. It’s called Ghostboy. I produced it my senior year in high school, right around the same time I started this website. Everything about it was intentional. And it is terrible. It was shot on Hi8, on the camcorder I bought as Best Buy with my first paycheck, and it was also my first experience editing on a nonlinear editing system, via some off-the-shelf software I also found at Best Buy. I exhumed it from the same box of VHS tapes that Poltergeist was found in, and had every intention of sharing it here, until I watched it myself. It is bad. Really bad. I made it through all ten minutes of it in piecemeal, and was depressed for the rest of the day. At age seven all I wanted to do was terrify, but by eighteen I was trending towards a terrible, treacly goth sentimentality – a pit from which I am still struggling to emerge. It was a real bummer to see, and I’m sure it’ll end up on YouTube someday.