30 Day Film Challenge – Day 16

Posted: June 25, 2021 in Uncategorized

Sixteen days straight is a long time. Honestly, I wish I had discovered this during COVID when I had way more time. This is starting to feel like Groundhog’s Day.

So, I had a little trouble thinking of a film that is personal to me. I mean, I’m 45 years old, and I have probably forgotten more movies than most people have seen. I generally don’t look at them like things to get personal about. They’re just constructs, really. Stories, real or imagined, that someone had in their head and thought, “This will make a good movie.” Why make it personal, unless I was the person with that idea in my head?

I was an extra in a couple movies – you can clearly see me pretending to talk to the guy next to me in a crowd scene in Denzel Washington’s The Great Debaters, but I can’t imagine a more impersonal thing than being an extra.I mean, it’s easy money, but I remember the day I filmed that scene, sweating in the August heat in period tweed clothes while going in and out of a Harvard lecture hall, pretending to get ready to watch a debate. After about 12 hours of that, they let us go home, but wanted us to come back the next day, and bring a friend because they were going to be short on extras for that scene. Not only did I not tell a friend, but I didn’t even go back the next day, so I guess they were even shorter. Yes, I was getting paid to sit around, but my time was more valuable than whatever they were paying, as was sleeping in.

So, not so personal. I could have picked a movie like Clerks or something like that, and then just cut and pasted my recent post about it on my sub-stack, but even though my goal in life at one time was to make a movie, and I kind of made a couple, it doesn’t seem that personal all these years later. Just another movie I used to watch a lot when I was 18.

But don’t worry. I did come up with a movie that is personal to me, so strap in for the story of me and:

Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

The funny thing is, I don’t recall the first time I even saw it, but I’m sure I rented it from my local video store and thought it was pretty hilarious. Even back then, I appreciated Donald and Daffy Duck sharing the screen together, and how cool it was to have animated and real characters interacting, and Jessica, well… Everyone appreciates Jessica. I remember years later, at a comic convention, one of the dealers showing my friends and I pictures of her that were drawn for a French porno magazine to promote the movie, saying, “It’s fine. She’s only a ‘toon.” Man, I think I was around 15 at the time, and she was more than that to me.

Years after that, I was at another convention, and I saw a table that had one lone older gentleman standing behind it, with a collection of books and some memoribilia related to Roger Rabbit. Since there was no one else talking to this man, I approached and struck up a conversation. He introduced himself as Gary Wolf, creator of Roger, and writer of the book Who Censored Roger Rabbit, on which the film was based. At the time, I actually didn’t even know it was based on a book. I had always enjoyed the movie, but Gary told me that, since he retained the rights to the character, Roger merch was pretty rare. It is what became known in some circles as The Wolf Clause, where the creator retains all rights to his character and the movie studio can’t do anything to it. To my knowledge, it’s pretty rare.

Gary told me a few stories that day, and I marvelled at how this man could take his love of old cartoons and make a career out of it. He had written a couple other Rager Rabbit books (because he could), and was now doing the convention circuit. I bought a signed copy of Who Censored Roger Rabbit? that sits on my shelf to this day.

Fast-forward many more years, and I am now living in Brookline, MA, and I am a regular at the famed Coolidge Corner Theater. My future wife and I attend a screening of Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, and I probably regaled her with that same story about The Wolf Clause. Nearby, I see a man in a very official-looking Roger Rabbit jacket that looks like something that you would only own if you worked on the movie. I turn to her and whisper, “Geez, that guy must be a pretty big fan.” Moments later, the theater manager, who is giving a brief presentation before the movie, introduces him as Gary Wolf, creator of Roger Rabbit and fellow Brookline resident. Small world.

A couple years after that, as host of a podcast, my friends and I are asked to help out moderating panels at a local convention, and I see Gary Wolf is doing a panel. So I naturally request that one, and then inquire if Gary would like to be on the podcast. He agreed, and it’s still one of my favorite episodes, even though we had no idea what we were doing when it came to audio quality back then (and we kinda still don’t know a lot.) The convention panel was also a lot of fun, and we even had Gary on the podcast a second time, at his request! I even saw him out to lunch once, and he remembered me!

In telling all these stories, it’s really strange that this movie kept popping up at these various stages of my life (Well, maybe not when you consider that we live in the same city. I don’t know), but truthfully, what makes this movie personal to me is that I associate it with a person. I can never watch it without thinking of Gary. I mean, I once met Ray Park at a convention, but I don’t watch The Phantom Menace and associate it with him because he was Datrth Maul (In fact, I don’t really watch Phantom Menace at all. It stinks.) But because Gary is such a funny, lovely man, who realizes that he has brought joy to millions but still just keeps writing books because he likes to, he talks to dopes like me on podcasts because he likes to, and he likes that he stuck to his guns and still owns Roger Rabbit. 

I kind of think someone should take his story and say, “This would make a good movie.”

Ok, back tomorrow for my favorite film sequel. Linktree!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s