I was a dinosaur kid. I’m not sure why or how it started; I just remember that at the age of five being a dinosaur kid. Maybe it was because I had a little plastic T-Rex and Triceratops. Maybe it was because I saw The Land Before Time and Dino the Last Dinosaur a few too many times. Or maybe it was because, when I was five years old, I read a book called Danny and his Dinosaur. The story was about a young boy named Danny who one days walks outside his house and sees a dinosaur, a friendly one at that. And together, they walk around the city, looking at sights, and play hide and go-seek, all the while Danny rode around on the dinosaur’s shoulders. Now I remember reading this book quite a few times, enthralled by the fact that someone took the time to tell a story of a character who shared my name. At the time, little did I know about alliteration being a great selling tool or that people sang a song called “Oh Danny Boy,” but just seeing my name in print was cool.
Moving forward five years later, an entire lifetime later in my little world, I heard tell of a movie coming out called Jurassic Park that was about—wait for it: dinosaurs. I wanted to see it, and some of my friends were talking about it, but summer was “so far away” so who knew when it was going to come out. I remember seeing the billboards in the Valley—the distinct bone structure of a T-Rex outlined in a circle with the title “Jurassic Park” beneath it.
Finally, one day, I found myself in the theater with my family sitting in the very first row as the theater was packed. I didn’t care, I just looked straight up and it started—I was confused at first by the opening, not knowing why this forklift was driving through trees or what was inside the box, just that I know I wanted to see what was inside the box. Of course, I didn’t get to see, so I was annoyed. The film continued and then I finally caught my first glimpse—Grant and Ellie get out of the jeep and stare up at a lumbering dinosaur, the sight so inspiring it brings tears to her eyes. I remember getting to the T-Rex Paddock and waiting to see it, but she never showed up (remember, all the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park are female) and my frustration continued until they get stuck… and the power goes out… and a distinct two-fingered hand reaches towards the no-longer electrified fence… and then it happened: the T-Rex broke out. Right in front of Grant and Ian, the T-Rex lumbers across the road and roars. It brought me chills and I was hooked— there was no wrong this movie could do. It’s one thing to do a dinosaur movie, but then for all of them to suddenly break free and escape? Genius! I enjoyed the thrill ride that was the rest of the movie, excited and scared when we first saw the Raptors enter the kitchen, and then filled with an over sense of joy and excitement when the T-Rex enters the building, kills the raptor, and roars as a banner that reads “When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth” falls right in front of her and everyone else escaped. Even when I watch the movie to this day, I still fall for it and get the chill down my spine.
I can’t say that I wanted to be a filmmaker at that moment. What I can say, what I do believe is that I and many, many people around me work everyday to try and conceive and create the next spine tingling moment, when all the pieces come together and just inspire the ten year old inside of us. We all hold moments from our childhood in the highest regard, memories from years past that we identify with ourselves because they were there for us when we knew very little about the world around us, but we didn’t care because we had these tv shows, toys, games, and movies that we could see, touch, feel, and experience in our own little ways. And to this day, they remain special to us, for perhaps no other reason than we experienced it when we were seven. So as a filmmaker, I hope I can one day leave my positive note on some kid who likes dinosaurs or comic books or actions figures or whatever other interest they hold. As a gift that was once given to me, I hope to be able to return the favor.