A Dreamer Walking

Turning 21!

Posted in Uncategorized by Jacob on January 3, 2011

(I thought I would start out the new year with a BANG! This is a paper I wrote about two months ago, when I turned 21. Sort of gives you a good idea of my journey up to this point. A bit long but I hope you ENJOY)

Turning 21!

Well I found myself wasting time looking at meaningless things online. So, instead of continuing to do that I might as well choose to listen to a suggestion from my Mom and write about turning 21. 21 is sort of age marker in many peoples lives. For me 21 means one more year of time gone. As productive as I feel at times I still do not feel productive enough. Believe it or not I already feel like I see my time on this earth counting down. I have so much I want to do and so little time to do it. Personally I think I should be making movies now, trying to bring some of the stories I have in my head and in hundreds of different notebooks, sketchbooks, computer files, and random pieces of paper, into reality for everyone to enjoy, be inspired by, and choose to act through.

I can not complain about life up to this point. I have found myself truly blessed. I have grown up in a country and with a family that has allowed me follow the burning passions which pull at my heart. Some of those passions I need to admit I have not done a good job following, some are not there anymore.

When I was young I had ambitions to become a professional baseball player. It was a game where the physical problems I had with my hips did not hinder me. To be honest I actually think it helped. since I went through the first four years of my life not being able to use my legs well and spent a couple months in casts not being able to walk at all, I was able to develop a curtain amount of patients that most kids and even adults don’t have. Even when I was young I found that I had the natural ability to keep my cool in tense situations. This helped me both with winning when I got into fights with my big (at much STRONGER) brother and doing really well while pitching in baseball. When I was twelve years old, and Little League baseball games only lasted six innings, I averaged more then 12 strikeouts a game.  During the last All-Star game I pitched in that year, I had a temperature of a hundred and two and still was able to throw a no hitter through five innings. The game was 0-1 and I was pulled for the sixth inning. The coach put his son in. We lost 5-1.

Sadly the passion I had for baseball did not translate to much action. Sure I was naturally talented and that carried me through several years. But to be honest, my older brother was much more driven to practice then I was. I had a better temper for baseball but my brother had a much greater dedication to the game. Because I lacked dedication I found myself slowly becoming average. Moving to Montana did not help my dedication, but in a sense I feel it was a blessing. Instead of doing a mediocre job perusing baseball in Montana (a state where the game is not usually taken too seriously) I chose to pursue another passion: movie making.

I do not quite know when I became really drawn to film making. I know I always enjoyed Disney movies when I was little. I especially remember watching and being effected by the movies Dumbo and Bambi when I was a small child. I was able to watch plenty of TV when I was in my casts and I always loved to watch the transforming orange on Sesame Street. The orange with sunglasses would come on screen and bounce all around and turn into boats, cars, sports wear, and household items right in front of my very eyes. It was magical and it effected me deeply.

The first theater experience I remember was with my dad. We went to the movie Star Wars. They showed it at the college where he taught at. We went into a little theater, just my older brother, my father, and me, and we saw the words “In a galaxy far far away” slowly fade onto the screen, to which I had hard time reading all the words. Then it happened, music jumped out from all the corners of the theater and I saw the words Star Wars in huge yellow font flash in front of my eyes. The rest of the role I couldn’t read but the music was doing everything for me. Then I saw a little ship flying away from the biggest battle ship I had ever seen.

The movie was thrilling. It exited me. It impacted me. And I wanted to have that experience again. I became a huge fan of movies and quickly was introduced to the films of Steven Spielberg. Immediately I became a fan of his work. We did not have much money to go to the Movie Theater often, but each time we went it was a true event, an experience like none other. I was hooked when my Grandpa brought us to the movie How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000). My mind was boggled when we were Transported into a single snowflake that revealed a grand land, a real city, inhabited by living breathing characters.

After dropping my ambitions to become a professional Baseball player I chose to pursue two other talents with the hope that they would somehow lead me into film. I pushed myself in art and story development. This time I made sure I had the dedication I had lacked in baseball. When I found that I was naturally good at drawing faces, more specifically eyes, I dedicated myself to it. I was told by one of my art teachers that the eye were the hardest thing to draw. I figured if I could master the eye I could become a better artist then those I competed against in school.

I was a competitor. Even though I was no longer really playing sports, I was going to become the best artist out there. During my sophomore and junior year of high school I treated art like my friends treated their sports. The majority of lunch times I spent working on paintings. When my friends were practicing for cross country, wrestling, or track after school I was in the art room spending a few hours working on projects. If you look at my math and science notebooks, you would see more doodles of eyes and cartoons, then actual assignments. My pursuit for art paid off in my Junior year. I entered my work in for a scholarship (that was normally reserved for Seniors only) and won one hundred and seventy dollars that I was allowed to use to buy some much needed art supplies. With the watercolors, brushes, and papers I bought with that scholarship, I created a series of paintings that have already been hung in numerous art galleries.

Sophomore year was the year I discovered extra features on DVD’s. I often went to a close by movie store and rented the DVD’s that had the most extra features. Soon I started taking notes on the extra features. I wanted to develop my own stories. I loved video games back then and decided to make my own. It was called “Mr. Waterbottle Man“. The main character was a water bottle and he fought evil fires with a endless supply of water. Then I imagined Waterbottle Man as a actual human who had a water suite. You can only imagine my frustration when I found that Mario Sunshine had stolen my idea.

However I was onto bigger and more exciting things. I used to play outside with my little brother, Caleb. We played hundreds of games through out the years and I began to develop a story out of those games that I still think will be one of the greatest stories I will ever tell. Those games however, did more then help me develop one story. They strengthened my imagination and help me figure out the key elements to making a story work. Playing outside with a few simple sticks did more to help me creatively and in my ambitions to become a filmmaker then any class I have ever taken.

As dedicated of an artist as I was, school in general was not my favorite place. Even in art class I had a hard time getting good grades because I would spend too much time working on projects that were supposed to just take a few days rather than the weeks I gave them. I didn‘t care too much about what I needed to do to get a good grade. What I cared about was making a piece of art I thought was impacting. I refused to believe my mother when she told me only one out of twenty watercolors (my art medium of choice) turns out well. I spent the extra time trying to make all my watercolors look right. Of course spending this extra time, even with going in at lunch and after class, made me always fall behind on my art assignments.

As a sophomore I was convinced I wanted to become a filmmaker, so subjects like math and science were a huge drain for me. I was never good at these two subjects and although I did try to pay attention in class, if it came down to doing a math assignment or working on a story idea or a piece of art, I always chose the latter.

I have however always had a interest in the subjects of English and history. Sadly I must admit that the teachers who often taught those classes were not too interested in me. As much as I tried to push myself in English, I seemed to be “naturally” bad at it. Most likely it was because of my dyslexia. My dyslexia effected my reading, so it took me twice as long to read a book as my fellow classmates. Also, I had no idea how to write. I tried hard, but it is hard to learn from your mistakes when you only get your assignments back at the end of the quarter. To me school seemed to be about getting assignments for the sake of having something to do, not for the sake of learning.

In history I learned a tremendous amount. I often came home talking to my mother about curtain things I found interesting in the lesson that day. I was especially interested in my American History class my junior year. My teacher really seemed to know what he was talking about. Topics like the Civil War and the Indian Wars fascinated me tremendously. I found it very interesting how this nation was built and how it wasn’t as glamorous as we would like to think. The deception, the hardships, and the breakthroughs our nation went through were all intriguing to me. I still remember my history teacher explaining the process immigrants needed to go through to get into America. It saddened me how harsh their lives seemed to be and what they needed to do just to make a living in this “free nation“.

The only problem with my history class was that my grades did not reflect the amount I learned. The major portion of my American history teacher’s grade was determined by his essay tests. I scored horribly on the tests and barley passed the class. Back then my handwriting was hardly readable and I never had enough time to get through all the questions. When my mother went in to talk to my teacher about my dyslexia problem, my teacher just said he would make the tests easier for me. Neither my mother nor me wanted an easier test. We just wanted extra time for me to finish  and someone to act as a scribe. My history teacher had a huge problem with this and told my mother that he didn’t think I had the “capacity to comprehend the important elements of a subject”.

Even though my teacher did not believe in me, from his History class I developed a passion for studying the past. I studied the history of major league baseball. I rented long documentaries from the library and began to read books on the subject. I thought the stories of Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, and Honus Wagner, could make some great films someday. While looking for biographies on baseball players I ran across a book that would change my entire life. It had nothing to do with baseball. It was about a movie producer who made himself known through developing cartoons. The book was called Walt Disney: An American Original, by Bob Thomas.

Of course I heard of Walt Disney before, but I always let the company he created overshadow the man. I had been inspired by the Disney movies, especially the animated ones, but I never really put much thought into how those movies were made and who the visionary behind them was. When I read Bob Thomas’ book I was inspired. Every chapter gave me more depth into a visionary who seemed to be able to move mountains by his passion. I read about Walt Disney’s ups and his downs. What surprised me the most about Walt was how he was able to overcome his imperfections and struggles.

Then I began to get more interested in the movies Walt created and the people who worked for him. It amazed me how so many people were caught up in one man’s dream. I looked into Walt’s Nine Old Men, nine animators who were some of the lead creators in Disney  animation from the 1940’s through the 1970’s. All nine of these animators were extremely talented artists with completely different backgrounds. They also had completely different personalities. Studying these nine animators helped me realize one of Walt’s greatest gifts. Walt was able to bring people of completely different stature and background together to make theme parks and movies that would last, that would effect the world much longer then any one life.

My passion grew as I studied each of these artists. They gave me insight into what good filmmaking is all about and how to carry a vision to fruition. I wanted to find people today who were as passionate as Disney and his artists. This lead me on to studying the Pixar studio, where I was inspired by people like John Lasseter, Joe Ranft, Andrew Stanton, and Pete Docter. All these people have helped to define the Pixar Studio and all of them seemed to have the same foundational belief in storytelling that Walt had. At Pixar I found a place where I wanted to start my career. I found a place that would push me in my own vision as a filmmaker.

The development of my vision for film is a whole story in and of itself. It probably goes back to movies like Dumbo and Bambi. I was intrigued by those movies for more reasons then the “happily ever after” at the end. Especially when I got older, they gave me insight about the struggles in life. The Disney animated movies made me think, made me see how there is loss in life and how a person could grow from that loss.

From Dumbo and Bambi I moved to movies like Braveheart and Saving Private Ryan. These were specifically adult oriented films. In both movies I saw the good guy die at the end. It wasn’t exactly a “happily ever after”; it was a small dose of reality. I needed to realize the fact that sacrifice is frequently needed when fighting for something you believe in. I began to realize the true power of sacrifice through film. I began to realize that you do not usually see the beauty in things until they are taken away. I began to establish sacrifice and loss in the stories I was creating. I can say now, in almost every story I have developed there is loss and sacrifice. I firmly believe that those two things help us truly see the good in this world.

At quite a young age, probably much younger then I should have been allowed to watch this film, I watched the movie which has impacted me more than any other through out the years. The movie was Schindler’s List. I must admit the first time I watched the movie I did not understand all of it. I just watched a story about several different characters all trying to survive a brutal time. I remember not thinking very highly of the main character Schindler at the beginning of the story. I remember feeling sad for all the Jews that were forced out of their homes and made to work for people who made fun and even persecuted them. When the Germans raided the Ghetto I was horrified. I could not believe what I was seeing on screen. I had seen nothing like it before. I found no entertainment in it. I did not understand at first why someone would show such horrific things: of Jews being brutally killed for no other reason then for being Jews.

If the movie just stopped there I probably would have been extremely disappointed and even  traumatized by the inhumanity of it all. But the movie did not stop there. I watched one man Oskar Schindler, give everything to save hundreds of Jews. At the end Schindler changed. The change I witnessed deeply effected me. The end of that film was the most powerful thing I have ever seen in film. When Schindler was leaving the hundreds of Jews he had saved, Schindler broke down crying. He told the Jews he could have saved more. I could not believe it. This was a man who we literally see save hundreds of people, and he was crying out for those he let slip away. It made me see how great an impact such a imperfect man could make. I thought if he was crying out because he could have saved more, I should at least try to do something for people who I knew were in a worse situation than myself.

I decided I was going to start to create the kind of art and the kind of stories that brought up tough issues. There was going to be a meaning behind what I did that impacted people for the greater good. This was when I began to truly own my faith in God. I began to realize my passion in film and art was a gift from God and was not be to taken lightly. I began to realize I had a duty to develop and bring into reality the many stories I had in my head.

My paintings began to be oriented toward those in need, towards problems I saw on this earth. I worked on paintings which brought up the issue of poverty and starvation. I began to develop stories that concentrated on the pains of addiction and loss. However, my work was not about giving into those problems and pains. I wanted my paintings and my stories to be a beckoning for others to stand up and fight for this world.

At age 21 I am only beginning to realize the power of the gift I have been given. I, more then ever, want to develop stories and bring up issues that could make a difference for those in need. At the age of 21 I know the clock is ticking away. I know my passions will not come to fruition without hard work and study.

In my 21 years of life I have gone through many struggles. Some of the struggles were brought on by the world some of the struggles brought on by myself. There are always distractions from my dream. It is always easier to give up and listen to the people who have never believed in me and expect me to fail. I can only imagine what I have ahead of me. There is so much I do not understand. One could easily call many of my ambitions naive and impractical.

I think many people my age still act like they have a lot more life to live and can worry about their ambitions and passions in a few years or so.

It is hard to imagine I could even get into a position where I am creating a story I have developed. It is not like I don’t understand how hard it is to bring about a vision. I have studied Walt Disney and Steven Spielberg, and each one of their visions were greeted by a endless amount of doubts and obstacles.

I guess what gives me hope is people like Walt Disney and Steven Spielberg were somehow able to fight through the endless supplies of doubts and obstacles. Somehow, as impractical as their visions were, both Steven and Walt were able to make their dreams turn into realities. What seemed to give them strength is the same thing I believe gives me strength. They had a reason for believing in the impossible. With every voice I have had turning me down, I have had one lifting me up. In the most impractical places I have had people that believed in me. In 8th grade I had a math and science teacher who for what ever reason gave me respect. He made me feel as though I meant something. He was the teacher who taught me in the two subjects I hated the most, but he still looked at me as though I had something to offer this world. Let me tell you right now, people like that make a difference.

My family, specifically my mother, has always been at my side pushing me to succeed. I never had the mother who babied me, I never was greeted with false love. It was always genuine, meant for one purpose and that was to get me stronger in order for me to fulfill my dreams. Both my mother and father allowed me to walk the path I felt called to walk. They have always stood by my side and encouraged me, even threw the uncommon routs I have taken toward my dream. I have four siblings who love me dearly and never let me get away with mediocre.  The bottom line is I have a reason for why I want to do what I want to do. I see every day the people and things which keep me walking out my dream.

At 21 I find myself to be a very blessed man. Even though I am conscious that I only have a limited time left, it does not stop me from appreciating the present. I will try my best to follow my vision. I can not complain about how it has turned out so far. Through the doubts and the obstacles there will always be the goal. My true ambition in life is to follow that goal no matter where it takes me.

2 Responses

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  1. Carl said, on June 25, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    Jacob, I deeply admire your aspiration and maturity in realizing your dreams. Reading your introduction of yourself was like reading a description of myself in so many ways. And as I’m soon turning 22, the same thoughts and questions has ran through my mind. I feel inspired to know that someone like you is following your heart with such immense determination by taking matter into your own hands, and by foremost acting through being so serene and wise. Thank you.

    On whatever path you set your foot on, I believe in you. You will acquire great deeds.

  2. Jacob said, on June 28, 2012 at 8:27 am

    Hey thanks Carl. It is easier said then done. But through all the stumbles and falls I am getting places. Please feel free to show me some insight on your journey.

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