As most of you probably know, I met Paul Thomas Anderson the other night at the "There Will Be Blood" screening in LA. It was definitely a night to remember and I briefly just want to share a couple thoughts on meeting him.
For those who don't know me very well, P.T. has been my favorite filmmaker since the late 1990s. Really the only favorite filmmaker I've ever had. It was around this time that I started to get more serious about my aspirations in film and I took an immediate liking to "Boogie Nights". Yes, the film about a "family" of pornographic filmmakers set in the late 70s/early 80s. This film dominated the airwaves of HBO and Cinemax at night in the late 90s.
I was lucky enough to have a cable box and spent my nights watching it over and over. Sometimes, I would miss the beginning. Other times I missed the end. I probably never watched a movie in parts more in my life. Considering I was only in my early teens (born in 1985), my parents probably didn't like the fact that I watched it a lot. Although, when they found out they didn't care that much.
Don't know the date, but eventually the film became my all time favorite. Of course, this was always great for conversations and job interviews when the question of favorite movie came up. I never backed away from the question and always answered truthfully. My answer every time was "Boogie Nights", which used to get mixed reactions from an assortment of people. One of my all time favorite moments was when I was in college and a professor asked something like what film influences you. I raised my hand and said "Boogie Nights" and he laughed and said I was "sick" or something.
My devotion to P.T. did not stop there. I have written papers about "Boogie Nights" for all different classes. I wrote one in high school. I wrote one in a college English class. I wrote a couple for film classes. I even gave a ten minute lecture on the opening of the film (same class with the professor who thought I was "sick").
I have t-shirts, pictures, posters, and dvds. I've tried to replicate his styles in some of my films even though many people may not realize it. Many times it is simply subtle references. I really admire him for all his work. And, I will continue to admire him for I know his amazing work will continue for many years.
Honestly, the only moment I missed that disappointed me was the "Boogie Nights" screening over the summer. I was on a film job in Mississippi and missed it. I actually didn't even know it was happening until after it occurred.
Then, there was the screening the other night. I got there at roughtly 3:25 p.m. or so and waited in line for my chance to see arguably the most anticipated movie of the year. At least for me it was. It was five years since Paul's last night. Well, I waited in line, watched the almost three hour movie, and waited for my moment.
I almost didn't even meet P.T. I waited for the huge crowd to filter out before making my move. Let me explain real quick without sounding odd. I bought an extra copy of "Boogie Nights" a while ago in case I ever met Paul. I wanted him to autograph a mint conditioned copy of the film. So, I brought this copy with me to the screening. I still had it in the shrink wrap, too. The lady at the beginning of the night said, "No photos or autographs." This was disappointing, but I started to see him signing stuff after the film was over. I knew I had to meet him since he is one of my idols. Only two people I would rather meet are named John and Paul. One is dead and the other has many bodyguards (Lennon and McCartney in case you didn't figure it out).
Anyway, I walked up to the stage and ripped off the shrink wrap exposing the dvd. He started to wave as if he was leaving and here is what happened, or at least what I somewhat remember. I yelled out his name a couple times and he looked at me. We shook hands and I asked if he could sign my dvd. He happily agreed and signed it. As he was signing the dvd, I started to talk very fast (I was nervous as you might have figured). I told him I couldn't believe I was meeting him and he's been such a big influence on my career as a filmmaker. That's all I remember before he gave me back the dvd. He kinda gave me this weird look since he probably thought I was crazy or something. I thanked him and left.
That was it. Probably lasted 30 seconds or so. He was humble and very quiet. I know some people think he has an ego or whatever, but it didn't show. You could tell it just meant a lot to him for people to want to meet him. He took time to meet with everyone who approached him at the theater, which was a class act. It was a cool moment for me that I won't forget. It felt somewhat validating that after all the years, it paid off to be a fan and admirer of his work. I'm writing this now and if I look a little to my left there is the dvd. It's in a plastic sheet for protection and "P.T. Anderson" is written across the cover.
Maybe, I'll get to meet him again, but if I don't at least I can cherish those thirty seconds.