I have always been a huge film buff (and TV, too, for that matter). I read Entertainment Weekly from cover to cover and I love to read behind the scenes accounts of movies. Lately I’ve become more interested in documentaries; last year I watched Waiting For Superman, which follows several elementary school students as they await a lottery to see if they will be admitted to a charter school they really want to attend. I loved that movie and I was struck by how much I came to care about the kids as I watched the film. At the end I cheered for the kids who made it into the school and felt terrible for the ones who didn’t. After that I decided to make it a point to watch more documentaries, which led to me to Andrew Jenks’ book My Adventures as a Young Filmmaker.
Andrew Jenks was an unhappy college freshman when he went to visit his grandfather at a nursing home. He was struck by how different this once vibrant and brilliant physicist seemed and he remembered that in high school he had done a short film about a local nursing home. Visiting with his grandfather gave Jenks the idea to elaborate on his previous film: he himself would actually move in to a nursing home. When I read about this movie I couldn’t get over how much I liked the concept of seeing senior citizens through the eyes of a nineteen-year-old. The movie, Room 335, was shown at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival and was bought by HBO.
When I saw that the guy that had made that movie had written a book I knew that I had to order it for the library. I’m really glad I did. Jenks starts the book by describing the time his family spent in Belgium when he was nine years old. He was bored and lonely, so he started to make movies with his parents’ video camera. That led to a lifelong passion for and interest in film. When he was in high school he and his friends had their own public access “news program” and he also founded a film festival. After Room 335 Jenks went to Japan make a movie about baseball manager Bobby Valentine. All of these experiences with telling people’s stories led Jenks to create a television series for MTV where he explores the worlds of a variety of young people, including a teenager with autism and a young woman who is homeless. Jenks writes about how much he enjoys meeting and getting to know his subjects and explains that he keeps in touch with them long after the episodes have finished filming.
My Adventures as a Young Filmmaker is a visually appealing book. Jenks uses a lot of photos and different fonts to tell his story; it was almost as if I was reading a movie. My favorite thing about the book, though, was how inspirational Andrew Jenks is. He fuses his love for filmmaking with his love of people. It’s amazing to see how he has created the perfect job for himself and he really encourages all of us to follow our dreams.