The films that launched a league of filmmakers

With the Oscars coming up, we wondered which movies inspired our contributors to become a filmmaker and why. Here are their rather varied responses.

The Wizard of Oz — I didn’t know it when I saw it at 5 years old, but this is the film that taught me to connect with the characters I was seeing on screen. As I grew older, my love for these people grew too, and I started to understand the story more. I realized once hitting my adult years that this piece of art struck such a deep chord inside me that it had stayed with me my whole life. I wanted to do that for someone else. Give them a story, an emotion, a piece of something that would grow with them until their later years. That’s something only art and cinema can do. ~ Brock Davis Mitchell, DDG

Black Cat, White Cat or City of God — So much life and personality in each of them, and they both have very different but very unique styles to them. ~ James Barry, Ramble

The Tree of Life — It’s visually stunning, capturing the smallest of life’s moments so powerfully. You see shots where kids are playing but only their shadows show on screen, and you realize those are the vignettes you remember as you grow older. Vignettes of how perspective-shatteringly large a tree is as you’re climbing it, of your mother’s necklace as she bends over to kiss your forehead, of lights and shadows dancing on your bedroom wall on a summer afternoon. I’m most moved and inspired by these impressionistic tributes to life. When all is said and done, you’ve done life right if it comes out as a pleasant blur. ~ Everett Thomas Fitch, Big American Story Films

Back to the Future Part 2 — I loved the imagination and promise of a future 2015. ~ Kyle Lowe

I’d say life circumstances, such as moving to the U.S. and the inability to express myself verbally, made me become a visual storyteller.There is a list of movies that inspired me to get better at filmmaking technically and emotionally wise: Forrest Gump, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Cloud Atlas, Inception, Interstellar, Irrational Man, The Shining, Juno, Bridget Jones’s Diary, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I love movies that surprise me with dreamlike narrative, tasteful imagery, unique camera movements, composition and grade, an interesting point of view, and a talented cast. I love movies that expand my imagination and let my mind wander. More than movies, I love cartoons and books, specially fairy tales. ~ Polina Rabtseva

Blade Runner and Time Bandits — I had no TV growing up, but we went to the movies all the time. When I found out I could make them too, it was an exciting day, and then long years of making that actually become a job. I saw Blade Runner and Time Bandits as a kid and they blew my top. Magic! Creating new worlds, the amazing images, world building, and imagination. ~ Michael Peterson, fresh dog

Terminator 2: Judgment Day — I saw that like a thousand times and I was just amazed by a killing melting robot and another robot protecting, and apocalypse stuff. I actually don’t know — I just loved that one and wanted to do stuff like that, but I was too young. ~ Adrian Gonzalez de la Peña, Olos Morna

I was 7 years old and I went to see The Jungle Book at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood. I decided then that I wanted to be part of movie-making and storytelling in any way I could from that moment on. It allowed me to travel to a faraway world — somewhere I’d never imagined before — where I was able to completely immerse myself and my imagination for 90 minutes. ~ Jaime Byrd

Heat — It’s a powerful piece of cinema. Pacino and De Niro are great, and that bank robbery scene is one for the ages. ~ Gerard Miquel

No specific movie but growing up watching the Banff Mountain Film Festival short films inspired me to try to film landscapes. The stories of people exploring and never ceasing to chase their passion for adventure. ~ Jason Melenberg

Kicking and Screaming — The dialogue. ~ Ian Rowan

On the Waterfront — I was in high school, so a little hard to recall, but at the time I was blown away by the symbolism and film noir in general. ~ Corey Hendrickson

A Disney film but I don’t even know what the title is. I remember one sequence vividly, because apparently when I was younger I would watch this film over and over. I remember this wolf, or fox, walking along with the most interesting music to match the animal’s feel. This combination of music and film fascinated me. ~ Henry Willmott

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom — It had everything! Action, adventure, and was perfect for a 9-year-old kid growing up in NYC! ~ Jimmy Olivero

Dead Man — Maybe the spiritual journey. ~ Andras Kollmann

Easy Rider — I saw this movie for the first time after my first year of college. It resonated with me in how it showed the beauty of the open road as an adventure to who knows where. It felt real and that’s what mattered to me. ~ Andrew Riddle

Clerks — Showed anyone could make a movie. ~ Derek Dockendorf

The Seven Samurais — The balance between photography, sequencing, acting, sound, and dialogue that played equally important parts to tell the story. I learned the value of “balance,” which seems still to this day something that is immeasurable yet vital to the art form. ~ Toshiki Yashiro

Press, Pause, Play — For the first 10 years of my career as a writer and art director, I always had to hire other filmmakers to produce my vision. But around 2008, technology started to become affordable enough that I could start shooting and editing my own stories. ~ Michael Holder

Bladerunner — Light, mood, set design/location, CGI, and the soundtrack/sound effects. ~ Henrik Berring

I never had a movie that really inspired me. The story behind why I am a filmmaker is a 2010 trip to Ecuador. I was 15, and my aunt bought me a Canon point-and-shoot to document the trip. When I got back to the U.S, I put together a highlight of the trip with PowerPoint. A filmmaker in the audience noticed how I drafted the story together and had transitions animate to the music. He asked if I would ever pursue visual storytelling. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, but weeks later he invited me to do a career shadow, and I instantly fell in love with filmmaking. Six years later, I’m running two companies and happily shooting for my favorite stock footage company. ~ Nate Brubaker, Rock Shore Media

28 Days Later — Cinematography. ~ Luc Goyer

Pulp Fiction — Unique storyline and unpredictable nature. ~ Mike Greenberg, Konspiracy Studios LLC

American Movie — How to not be a filmmaker, but at the same time respecting the documentarians. ~ Tyler Mann

Kill Bill 1 — This is one of the most beautiful pieces of art I’ve ever seen. Everything about this movie is perfect: the game with colors, the music, the samurai fight in the snow is wonderful … all this driven by the power of revenge. ~ Kayvan Kiani

Amores Perros — Everything! ~ Renaud Stanton

Cloverfield — Editing and niche genre. ~ Josh Howard

Andrei Rublev — Long takes. ~ Oleksandr Homon

Jurassic Park — First, Spielberg. His name was directly associated with filmmaking and Hollywood, and I wanted to become like him and ideally work with him some day. For a young boy like me with big dreams, it was Spielberg and his movies that carried me through any obstacles I faced. Second, the movie itself was one of the first to feature such eye-popping special effects, which made my imagination run wild with the possibilities of what could be made. ~ George Georgeadis, Dissolve product manager

Now see who these guys picked for Best Picture this year — both which movie they think will win and which they want to win — in Best Picture 2016: Will vs. Want Edition.