It's hard to believe it's been nearly 24 years since I landed in Prague full of that special hubris reserved for the young. I was there to study at FAMU, the world famous film school (or at least famous for those who knew Eastern European cinema). This was not the first time I'd been to Prague. I'd gone three years before, just months before the Velvet Revolution and was already under its spell. I knew I'd be back, but I had no idea then, at 18, about to head off to college, that I would return to make a film.
FAMU was an amazing experience especially at that time. Foreigners had just recently started to enroll in the program. Our Czech counterparts were eager to see if our savvy, democratic ways might rub off. Even in the year I was there that began to sour as they realized it doesn't, and we were just making everything more expensive. But I'll never forget the generosity and openness I felt those first few months as a fellow student.
I'd never studied film much less made one. I was not remotely Spielbergian for whom the fairy tale goes made films on an old 8mm starting at 10. But I had always loved film. Growing up in Arkansas, movies and TV were my windows onto the whole wide world I was desperate to play a role in.
It wasn't till the summer after my sophomore year, under the haze of mononucleosis, that I summoned (or perhaps it summoned me) the idea that I could be a director. I'd burnt myself out overloading on classes that dove deep into the intricacies of arms control and disarmament that were quickly unraveling as a new world order supplanted the old one.
I knew it was crazy to think I could be a director. I had no contacts in the business. No one I knew even wanted to be in the film business. Stanford didn't have a film program. I thought about transferring but I knew I had to finish what I started. So i went back to school and put my nose to the grindstone finishing up all the courses I would need to graduate a year early.
But I still had one requirement; I had to study abroad. And then I saw it: a blue flyer stapled haphazardly onto a kiosk just outside the Coffee House: STUDY FILM IN PRAGUE! I nearly fell over.
Three months later I was on a plane to Prague.
Three months after that I was color-correcting ALEXIA at Barrandov Studios. It was a dream come true, and I was hooked.
I wish I could say it's been a smooth journey on my road as a filmmaker. Alas, it is not the case, as it surely isn't for anyone bit by this bug That said, I'm grateful for this first experience because it gave me a glimpse of what a creative life could be like.
It's been enough to keep me going as I've dragged the negative from house to house, city to city over this last quarter century. Thanks to wonderful restoration work by Cinepost in Georgia and Wes Matheny here in Denver, I give you ALEXIA.