For The Love of Movies
By Shelly Howieson
It began when I was three. I don’t remember, but my father used to tell me the story of how I sat on his lap and shouted in excitement each time Thumper and Flower appeared on the large screen. He thought the other moviegoers enjoyed watching my toddler responses much as the movie itself.
It was one of his favorite moving-going experiences.
Next, it was the drive-ins as a family. We only went to the ones you could pay for by the carload. The six of us piled into the family station wagon with cans of cold soda and a large shopping bag full of freshly popped, still warm popcorn Mom made just before we left the house. My siblings and I were loaded into the car, already wearing our pajamas so we could be deposited promptly into our beds upon returning home.
We’d leave early enough to arrive while it was still light so we could find the best parking space and make sure the speaker that would hang from Dad’s car window for the next four hours had “good” sound. Then we’d beg to go down to the playground until the movie trailers started.
It was always a double feature back then. The first feature was the “B” movie, and the main feature wouldn’t start playing until way past my bedtime. So I’d try my best to stay awake to see the second movie, and sometimes I’d manage to stay awake for at least half of it.
We watched The Duke show True Grit, and Elvis kiss his cousins. We tried to count the little spotted dogs to see if there were hundred and one of them. The special effects of The Love Bug left us amused and amazed.
The drive-ins were some of our best times as a family.
At 13, I was deemed old enough to go to Saturday matinees with my friend Barb at the mall. That gave me my first bit of true independence. When life got particularly rough, the movies provided an escape and a place to dream. I could cry or laugh and not worry about what anyone else thought in those darkened theaters.
The matinees provided escape during a difficult adolescence.
My love of films gradually morphed from a love of the moviegoing experience to love the movies themselves in college. I studied classics, including early silent films, and wrote student movie reviews. I fell in love with the performances of the Fondas and Meryl and Tracy and Hepburn and Bettie Davis and Redford and Newman, and…it goes on and on.
After college, I went to work for The Burbank Studios. I got to see how movies were made and learned a lot about the business side. But, after four years, my love of film had faded. I’d seen behind the curtain, and the Wizard looked more like a monster than a simple flim, flam man from Omaha.
In 1990 the movies and I reconciled when I treated myself to an opening night ticket to Postcards From the Edge. It had everything my heart could desire, including remarkable performances and a script written by none other Princess Leia herself. It was brilliant, wickedly funny, and I connected deeply to the story. Finally, I was at home in a movie theater once again.
Writers, keep writing! Your movie might be a little kid’s first or the one that brings a family together or gives a 13-year girl the space to dream or helps someone fall back in love with films.
Shelly is a playwright with nine full-length plays and over 60 five-minute plays to her credit. After spending 23 years writing, producing, and directing plays for a Seattle-based theatre group, she decided to move into a different writing discipline. A lifetime lover of movies, she felt learning to write and develop screenplays was a natural marriage of her talents and her passions.
She holds a B.A. in Radio/TV/Film from LBSU and worked in the industry for several years at The Burbank Studios. She has one screenplay currently in final rewrites and several other treatment ideas in progress.