For the longest time, I’ve considered novelist Robert A. Salvatore to be my mentor. I can’t say that he’s my friend, though I’ve met him, met his wife, and I’ve written him and been written to by him. I’ve read nearly all his books, and I love his writing style.
However, as I slip more and more into the filmmaking world, I’m really becoming a follower of another man. I’ve loved the work of Luc Besson for a very long time. The first film of his that I know I watched and loved was Leon the Professional, which introduced the world to Natalie Portman and the United States learned of Jean Reno. I didn’t know Luc Besson at the time; I didn’t know who he was or what the hell a director was. I just knew I liked the movie a lot!
Later, he did the Fifth Element with Bruce Willis and Milla Jovovich, and again I was in awe. Although I nearly consider myself a devotee to the religion of Star Wars, when I’m asked what my favorite movie is, I state early and in no uncertain terms: The Fifth Element. Yes, it can be cheesy. Yes, there are some special effects flaws that bother me. Yes, the costumes are outrageous and Chris Tucker can be irritating as hell in it. But you know what? I love the hell out of that movie! There are lots of reasons why, but the story, the themes, the ironies, the mise-en-scene, the music, and far too many other things all just hit me in just the right fucking way. Would I give a kidney for the Fifth Element? No, but I willingly watch it every opportunity I have!
Over the last two weeks, I’ve come across two films that Besson wrote, though he didn’t direct them: Wasabi and Columbiana, and they have equally amazed me! Wasabi tickled me in all the right ways because it was decidedly French, which I found to be clever and cliche in a refreshing way, colliding with Japanese culture which I have a complete love for. Columbiana, on the other hand, tickles that part of my consciousness that loves strong female characters that just happen to be utter badasses…
In some ways, Wasabi and Columbiana are the Professional and Fifth Element draped in different clothes; there’s definitely a similarity between the films respectively. But I rather than say Besson is being lazy, I would actually declare him an auteur instead. The guy is quite rapidly becoming my hero as I get closer and closer to attempting to enter the film industry…
I’ll be frank… The way to get into the film industry is apparently by becoming an intern someplace and working your ass off for little pay for a long time, looking for just the right break while you put your dues in. I get that, and I’m not going to complain about it. It’s just the way things are. I don’t think I can handle that, mind you, and I’m hoping I can find a break via another path, and I’m looking to explore those meager options, but in all honesty, if I had an opportunity to just sit down with Luc Besson and work as an intern for him for a few months, I really think I’d strongly consider it. I’m liking his style, and I’m thinking that he’d really approve of a particular character I have in mind, perhaps a second as well.
Hell, even without the opportunity to work for the man, I think I’d like to sit down with him for a while and pick his brain on the Fifth Element and Columbiana, and see how I can apply his French perspectives to my own work! Mr. Besson, if by some miracle you read this, please drop me a line! I’d love to just talk with you for a while!