I tend to look back at years in terms of development. As a person. I don’t think of the presidential election, the EU referendum. I want to know how I’ve changed, it helps me in my work. To be able to recall life experiences helps you develop characters. It’s something I share with all the writers I work with.
One thing I’ve been thinking about is idols, people who inspire me. I’ve been coming back to these people a lot. A lot are historical. Walt Disney, Chuck Jones, Buster Keaton and Stanley Kubrick. Many are modern or still alive today. Charlie Kauffman, Spike Jonze, Lin-Manuel Miranda and John Lasseter. I use the work they did or their influence as a foundation for not only the work I do, but to some degree the person I am. The work of Chuck Jones and Buster Keaton influence my sense of humour, much like how Charlie Kauffman and Spike Jonze make my question myself in my personal life and my role in the world as a whole.
The biggest influence on me has been Walt Disney. I grew up in the late 90s, early 2000s. The diet for me was the Golden Age Disney films. Snow White to Jungle Book. It was at the stage where we weren’t ready to call the Disney renaissance films ‘classics’ even though, they are today. Walt Disney’s work, his heart, is engraved in the person I am.
I went to Walt Disney World in June. It’s where I’ve had some of my fondest memories as a child. I was last there when I was 7 years old. Since then I’ve learnt so much about Walt and film in general. In those 11 years, I found my passion, my drive and what I thought were the reasons for it.
These two weeks, I thought, were going to inspire me to create more. Being in Walt’s final dream and seeing the stories which inspired me growing up all day for fourteen days. One night, I met a family who were down from Canada. It was a mother, father, their two children and their grandparents. One of the children was severely ill. She was in a laydown buggy plugged into a ventilator. She loved lights and music, she was about to watch the parade which inspired me when I went to Magic Kingdom for the first time, the Main Street Electrical Parade. I kept talking to the parents and we were talking about wheelchairs, stubborn scooters in the parks and how their daughter loved Disney princesses. Their toddler son loved pin badges and kept looking at mine. It was when the parade started when I saw the smile on their daughter’s face that changed me. As all the lights came past, all the characters. She was having the best day of her life. I stayed with them during Wishes and watched the whole family together in awe of Disney’s fireworks as if nothing was wrong, as if they were the perfect family in the perfect place. Something happened to me. It changed the way I think. I remember the last day. I was at the top of the Main Street Train Station at Magic Kingdom, looking down Main Street. I just thought of Walt. Of the people I met and the families having fun together.
A lot of us get into the industry because of something we seek. To answer a question that we need to answer. I thought I was one of those. But I think about Walt Disney’s impact on the world, on me, and I realise I’m not in it for that answer as much as I thought I was. I saw families together, sometimes families who face the hardest times ahead, as if nothing were wrong. I sat there, looking at the Castle and the Partner’s statue in the distance and realised if I can take someone away from reality, from adversary, for even a moment, I would’ve fulfilled my drive, my dream. And I just cried at the thought of that, I couldn’t explain it. I guess it felt the same as when I found out I wanted to make films.
It cemented Magic Kingdom as my favourite place. And that moment is just another Walt Disney World memory I’ll cherish forever.
People call 2016 terrible. I can't. It's the year I was reminded that the people who inspire us shape us, and that others can educate us on what we love, even when we think we knew everything we could.