Directing Dreams: Interest in film leads to career path

Amy Pham, Print Managing Editor

After the murder of his brother and the death of his wife, he resorted to becoming a bounty hunter with a quest to free a man bound in chains, taking on the name of Dr. King Scultz. Then, a pair of hands ejects the disk, putting in another one to follow. The night is filled with “crazy costumes, blood and gore” on a screen, fascinating a hopeful high school student.

Junior Ethan Sims has wanted to become a major movie director since he was 9, when his family bought their first laptop with a webcam on it. Afterwards, he said he always used the laptop to shoot videos with his friends, sparking his interest in film.

“It’s every creative medium: music, visuals, writing,” Sims said. “It’s all the three big art forms. Basically you’re an author, you’re an artist and you’re a musician in a way. It’s all the senses. It’s the best method of self-expression.”

In the meantime, Sims plans on participating in film festivals in order to market himself. He entered “Imperfection” to the 2015 Fire Reel Film Festival, winning “Best Score” with his group.

“Going through the film festivals, you win an award and you get your name out there,” Sims said. “The Fire Reel Film Festival was a strange experience. Their judging was kinda weird. It’s whatever.”

Up until last year, Sims created videos and posted them on YouTube. However, he has stopped and instead is currently planning on documenting his senior year and an upcoming trip to New York City with his friends in November.

“YouTube is too oversaturated,” Sims said. “Too many people are doing that nowadays. It doesn’t get you anywhere. The odds of being noticed on YouTube are like one in four billion; it’s just not likely.”

Sims said someone should go to college to be a film maker only if they do not know anything about it. He said there is importance in knowing producers and marketing, not necessarily in obtaining a degree.

“It’s your ability to tell a story, and you either have that ability or you don’t,” Sims said. “School isn’t really gonna teach you anything. Honestly, film making is a lot of going with your gut and doing what you feel creatively. Someone else can’t teach you that stuff.”

He does not plan to go to a major university but a community college instead. Afterwards, he said he will reevaluate where he is at and go from there.

“I feel like success nowadays is all about getting into college,” Sims said. “It’s not necessarily about what you can do outside of school. High school is my biggest discouragement. North Garland itself is based around wanting to go into a white collar job, a steady field.”

Sims said he grew up with film, and his definition of success is being able to support himself solely on directing. He takes inspiration from Tarantino (who directed “Django Unchained”), Kubrick (“The Shining”) and Chaplin (“City Lights”) due to the memorable characters created from them.

“My long term goal is an Academy Award, L.A., the rich life, Bugattis, Lambourginis,” Sims said. “But it’s not about the money. Basically in the end, I’ll be happy if I can make a living off of filmmaking alone. Anything else that comes after that, fast cars, that’s cool too.”

In addition, Sims will focus on drama and horror as genres. He plans on creating character-driven films in the future.

“I like the weird characters,” Sims said. “I like the style of overreacting, which was bigger in the older days. You’ll notice that they’re a lot more animated versus nowadays.”

Though Sims’ hopes for being a director are bright, he has encountered opposition. He said friends have told him his goals are unrealistic. In addition, he said his father is not supportive of his choice at all and told his mother that he should consider engineering instead. However, Sims said he could never consider going into that field.

“People say it’s so hard to get into the industry but I think with a good story you can,” Sims said. “Saying that you’re wanting [to go into a career in the artistic field] is almost like coming out of the closet to your parents, it seems like. It’s voodoo. It’s destined for failure. It’s depicted to be destined for failure.”

Despite sources of discouragement, Sims said he is certain of his career choice.

“I have no plan B,” Sims said. “I will continue until I make it, even if I die. There is no plan B. It’s only plan A.”