high school films

On Looking Back by Reese Hayes

This week, I’ve been in my hometown helping my mom move everything out of my childhood home.  It’s been an interesting experience filled with mixed emotions.  I’ve spent much of my time going through old photographs, playing the video games I used to love, and listening to the music that once meant so much to me.  There are things about those years and the memories made in this house that I’ll truly miss when it’s finally time to say goodbye.  This is where I developed a love for cinema.  It’s where I wrote my first stories and made my first films.  I remember wishing for the day that I could leave this town and become the youngest Oscar award winning director in history!  But now that this house and this town will only be a part of my past, I feel a bit of melancholy that can only be cured by one thing…  Reflecting back on (and cringing at) the movies I made in my youth.




Might as well start from the beginning.  ‘Wanna Duck’ was modeled after a game my classmates and I played where we repeated a silly phrase about a duck to one another.  It was kind of fun if you had a ton of people doing it, but other than that it was pretty lame.  And since I had very few friends willing to be in my movies at this time, the video is pretty lame too, but I learned how to edit on iMovie which is a valuable skill to put on a resume!

 Over a year later, I made POKEMON RAGE QUIT which was basically my attempt at recreating the scene from The Two Towers when Gollum is arguing with himself about the hobbits.  This one isn’t totally incompetent (please ignore the frustrating disregard of the 180 degree rule. I don’t think I knew what it was yet) and is even kind of funny at parts.  I was learning to tell stories with an actual beginning, middle, and end around this time and the two Reese’s seem to be different characters which is impressive given my poor acting abilities to this very day.

Unfortunately, I can’t share with you my life’s work, CAPTAIN CAPTAIN, as it remains incomplete, but I shot enough of it to cut this sick trailer that I used for months to prove I was a real filmmaker.  CC is still probably the longest script I’ve ever written, filled with masturbation jokes, obscure references, and a lengthy interview segment that tied the whole narrative together that was never shot.  I worked for months on this short film, recruiting all of my friends to play silly parts and to hold the camera whenever I had to act poorly as The Sheriff.  Most of the shots are out of focus, all of the music is from my favorite movies, and I’m pretty sure the ending was a direct rip off of Dirty Harry.  Honestly, I’m just happy to have gotten this garbage out of my system at such an early age.  Had it ever been finished, it would have been a real stinker.

But this lead me to reviving the classic character for my very first web series, Part 1 | Zombies and Part 2 | Werewolves. This series also ended abruptly after my lead shaved his beard in the middle of production on Part 3 | Vampires, but my dream is to reunite the cast of my high school buddies and complete this saga once and for all.  Watching these films brings me back to a time when all I wanted to do was to create things with my friends.  I had no agenda or desire for success from making these movies, I was simply bored of school and passionate for filmmaking.  While the films aren’t all that good, I think the amount of fun we had making them shows.  We were just goofing off together while I bossed everyone around for my “vision”.


I think that’s about all I can handle for today.  I made a few more films after these that I’m relatively proud of, but I can’t put myself through watching them again.  However, it’s good to reflect on the work you’ve done in the past.  It helps me see the progress I’ve made as a filmmaker while also reminding me of what I used to love about the process of filmmaking.  These films bring me right back to the mindset I was in when I made them.  I remember my frustrations at not being able to properly convey the emotions I wanted to express.  I remember my friends and teachers praising me for my hard work.   I remember sneaking into abandoned buildings, shooting entire scenes in grocery stores without permission, making my friends do ridiculous things for the sake of a funny joke.  It was a great time to learn about cinema and sometimes I feel like I need to recapture some of that youthful ignorance in order to continue growing as a filmmaker.