June 6th is always an interesting day to me for many reasons. First and foremost, it was my mom’s birthday. Whenever June 6th rolls around, I always think of her and the times that we shared together. It will be six years this July since she passed away. To give a little back story on things, my mom was one of the few people who believed in me and believed in my writing. My dad and his side of the family were always more old-school in their ways of thinking. They always thought you should find a stable career with good money, benefits, and stability. While I understand they were just looking out for my best interests, sometimes in life you have to go for what’s right for you, regardless of how it looks to others. Often times, my dad would just think I was wasting time on the computer, being lazy and doing nothing. I would be lying if I said that it didn’t hurt my feelings. It made me feel like I was just a big disappointment and a waste of space. With my mom, she just wanted to see me happy and always told me that no matter what I pursued, she knew I would do great in that field. She always saw something in me and knew I had the talent and the potential to be whatever it is that I wanted to be.
Every Tuesday, my mom would take me to Best Buy, Target, and Walmart to buy the newest movies, so I could write about them online and watch them with her. She really supported me, believed in me and saw that I had a real passion and interest for watching movies and writing about them. When she passed away in 2005, movies were my outlet for dealing with the pain. A local Hollywood Video was closing and had all their movies for sale. I ended up buying about 30 movies for 90 dollars and locked myself in my room to watch all of them. It was my escape.
After I recovered a little bit, I started writing for some movie websites online, as many as possible, in fact. I watched all kinds of movies: big movies, Indy movies, and everything in between. As I mentioned in the introduction, I started writing for 411mania.com. Because of writing for 411mania.com, I was invited to press screenings downtown. In May 2007, I attended a screening downtown for Hostel Part 2. After seeing the movie on a Thursday, I would be interviewing Eli Roth over the phone on Friday to promote the film and talk about it. The screening, first of all, was amazing. I ended up sitting next to Michael Phillips from the Chicago Tribune, someone I had followed and respected from his time as a guest critic on Ebert and Roeper. He was very nice, asked me about my website, and even shared his popcorn with me. I felt like I was on cloud nine, sitting next to a major critic, seeing a movie before anyone else, and enjoying the experience of feeling like a real critic.
Anyone who knows me knows how much I research. I also have a big chip on my shoulder. I wanted my interview with Eli Roth to be the best interview possible. I know he has done probably thousands of interviews in his career, and I researched most of his previous interviews and tried to come up with unique and informative questions. The interview was very, VERY good. Anyone who has ever talked to Eli Roth before knows that he’s a talker and can give you many great sound bites, if you ask the right questions. I did, and he started talking about Richard Roeper and his negative review of Cabin Fever.
Thanks to my friend Chris Yandek, another fellow journalist, I learned how to promote my interviews. He taught me how to put together a press list of all the major newspapers and how to send out a press release, highlighting the interview and talking about the main points that might be newsworthy in a major newspaper. Well, it turns out, on June 6th, 2007, my name and my interview with Eli Roth was quoted in Richard Roeper’s column on page 11, which also happens to be my mom’s birthday.
I don’t usually believe in these sorts of things, but I tend to believe that she had something to do with that happening. My dad came home from work and ended up buying about ten papers and was glowing like a proud papa. I received countless phone calls, emails and praise from friends, family and people I hadn’t talked to in years. They all were saying they saw my name in the paper and loved my interview with Eli Roth. To me, I felt like I had made it.
I remember being the young kid who couldn’t put a decent sentence together, and now I was being quoted in the Chicago Sun-Times. I was sitting next to a film critic from the Chicago Tribune, and he was talking to me like I was one of them. I remember being the depressed kid who lost his mom and didn’t even want to come out of the bedroom, and now I ran out to my local Walgreens and saw my name in the paper. I remember watching countless hours of footage from Ebert and Roeper, Siskel and Ebert, and hoping to one day be them, and now they knew my name and mentioned it in their paper. It gave me great confidence to know that yes, I could do this.
Now, every time June 6th rolls around, I think of two things. One, I think of my mom and the influence she had on me. Two, I think of being mentioned in the Chicago Sun-Times and feeling like damn it, I was worth something and I was not a failure or some stupid kid on the Internet. I’ll never forget that day or the confidence I have received seen then.
There is something special and unforgettable about waking up and having a newspaper in your hand with your name on it. I know newspapers are seen as old and outdated, but to me, I’m always partial to newspapers.
Here's the article:
Here is a link to the interview with Eli Roth from 2007:
Here’s a link to the time it also got mentioned on the Howard Stern show: