When Cloverfield Hit, my story

Nearly a year ago, I think, Middle started talking about Cloverfield. It was in production and he was intrigued by it. I have no idea how he heard about it, I can only say that it became one of those topics that floats around the house for months.
Middle would report about things he read on the internet about the production, the director, the special effects being used. It was a regular dinner table topic.
I knew, from him, that it was a movie about a monster attacking New York.
I was never terribly interested - this is the stuff 16 year old boys tend to flock to and I never had any desire to see the movie.
But the months passed and Middle joined a couple of online communities where he discussed the film work he was doing and the making of Cloverfield. And he continued to keep us all informed as the production moved along.

All this time, whilst becoming infatuated with every aspect of this movie and how it was made, Middle was diligently becoming the film guy he is now. He was taking classes here and in the city, he was shooting all kinds of things all the time, and he was completely engrossed in digital video and editing.
Screenplays littered his floor...along with iced tea bottles and dirty socks.
Many conversations were interrupted so that he could discuss certain effects with K or keep us posted on some detail.
You get the picture.

One day, last summer, Middle got information about some location shooting for the movie and begged to be allowed to bust the set. (That's how we talk around here.)
The shoot was scheduled from midnight until four in the morning. (Which we ALL know means until AT LEAST four am.) And that's how K found himself in Central Park at two in the morning. And that's how Middle was lucky enough to stealthily shoot the makers of Cloverfield shooting the very last scene in the movie.

This did nothing to dampen his enthusiasm.
He and K made a date to see Cloverfield on opening day (1.18.08) and he continued to immerse himself in all things film. Or video. Or cameras.

He saw the movie at one minute past midnight, or some such, he saw it two more times with his girlfriend. And because he is Middle, he did not come home and talk about the gore or the monster or the effects. He came home and talked about the plot. He talked about "going back for Beth." And I'm sorry if I ruin the plot for any of you with the whole "going back for Beth" thing, but it points to Middle's character. HE might go back for Beth. That's what kind of guy he is - to watch 180 minutes of creepy movie and be left thinking about human relations.

A couple of months ago, when he told us about the contest, I cringed. He's not competitive. He never has been. He is quiet and non-confrontational and cautious. He's the kind of kid who will worry about the kid being bullied. I could go on and on about what kind of kid he is but I think I've painted a very clear picture of Middle here and I think you understand him as well as you can without really knowing him.
My point is: this was a huge hurdle.
All I can think of is how to protect him if he loses. Of course all mothers think that way all the time but this is the first time I've had to do it for Middle.

He made his movie.
It is clearly the film of someone interested in special effects.
It is a showcase of his skill, which is still naive and rough.
But he did it and was brave enough to submit it and people like it.

I had never seen Cloverfield. Youngest loves it and it is the kind of movie I would not, under different circumstances, let Youngest see. K liked it as much as any other science fiction movie.
A couple of weeks ago, Middle and Youngest sat me on the couch and made me watch it with them.
I have not seen a scary movie in ten or fifteen years.
It took a lot for me to sit there - but they helped me through it.
I cannot watch violence in movies without getting emotionally involved, and I did get emotionally involved.
The attack, in the beginning, is so reminiscent of September 11th, that I was very uncomfortable. My kids have never seen images of that day and I'm not going to discuss my experience of that day. I don't think the filmmakers were disrespectful of the memory of September 11th but they certainly used that emotional content to make their point.
The story of Rob and Beth is wrenching.
The plot is completely simple.
The gore is not as bad as I thought it would be.
But when I was done watching, and even now, I cannot think about the movie without thinking of Middle.
I have emotionally tied a teenage horror movie to his maturity and independence and growth.
It's a stupid thing, really and I'm not doing especially well in my attempt to explain it.
The making of this movie has coincided with the making of Middle, the discovery of his path.

Middle claims to not care if he wins. Half of me hopes it's true and half of me doesn't believe him.
I want it to be the next step in his career. Or the first step.
I want so much for him and, for the first time, I see what he wants for himself.
This is no small thing.

And now, I am weepy. I have made a mountain out of something small. Again.
But you are here for it and I thought I'd try to explain.
Vote today. The site is back up.
I cannot begin to express my gratitude.


Anonymous said…
Thank you all for voting!!! It meant a lot to bb to feel your support.

KPB said…
We all totally get it.

And you explained it perfectly.
Jess said…
It's been outstanding, watching Middle's first film.

I love not only seeing his work but also finding out about his character.
Anonymous said…
I'm trying, I'm trying...I can't find a way to vote - the movie plays and the "vote for me" sign is nowhere to be found!! I'm doing the same thing as always, and it's not working....any ideas?
blackbird said…

the site is either down or we had to finish voting by midnight LAST night.
It isn't clear to us...
alice c said…
It would be wonderful if he did win and I would cheer and cry with you if he did.

But...the competition has already served its purpose. Middle has stepped onto the first rung of the ladder and has a clear sense of what he wants to do. He has started his portfolio with a high quality entry and been noticed within the film studios. He is already a winner regardless of the outcome of the judging.
Badger said…
I am so proud of him.
Carol said…
I am so sentimental - but all I can think about when you write beautiful "motherly" posts like this is how he will cherish this post when he is 40. Rich, and living in LA supporting you and K - and remembering how much faith and love you had for him as a teenage film maker!
The Tutugirl said…
This post and, more importantly, your enthusiasm for Middle's passion are a testament to what a great mother you are. I continue to vote in hope that he wins, but I also hope that if nothing else he sees how blessed he is to have a mother like you.
Kathy Rogers said…
I also understood that voting was through today, but it isn't working this morning.

And, yeah, I totally get how, as important as it is to your kid, it is somehow bigger and more fraught for you.

You did good, mom. He'll be fine.
Anonymous said…
Dang. It is not letting me vote. I had to go to Napoli this morning (when with the time difference it was still yesterday to the Clove site) and now it's not letting me in.
You have any idea how ANGRY I am right now? I've been voting each and every day since day 1 and now I find myself cut out.
But your post was delightful as always. I agree it will be cherished by your sons when they grow up. The each have wonderful things said and thought and taught.
I hope he makes it. Can't even see the list...
RW said…
I agree with Alice. The competition has served a far greater purpose. Your Middle has moved further along on the journey.

This post is also a testament to your love and committment to your son.
MsCellania said…
I admire him most for his efforts. To me, he's won. His video WAS the best. I watched the others and thought "Middle's looks professional. Middle's held my interest and was astonishingly good in comparison."
bb, I understand 1000% what you conveyed today.
And honestly, the winning was in the journey, not in the outcome. I love that he got immersed in what could be his future. Lucky Middle-- To be 17 and be passionate about something that could not just be a lifelong interest, but be a living!
Paula said…
Naive and rough, sure, but with a big dash of talent starting to be developed.

He will do well in his passion.
Anonymous said…
Well said.
barbra said…
I have voted every day. I am happy to help your young man. But I do get the sense that it's not all about the winning for him. It seems like he knows that making it and putting it out there for others to see was already a victory for him. He was brave enough to put it out there even though there would be negative comments (there always are, no matter what - people can be so pointlessly mean on the internet). He got a lot of great comments and his video was one of the best of the bunch. I think Middle knows that the best videos may not be the ones that finish in first - it's the nature of an "internet vote" contest. Who knows what makes people vote. I know I admire him for exploring his passion and being brave enough to let people see his work. Bravo, Middle!
It is a great thing when a kid figures out what he is passionate about and has parents that are behind him. That's what great parents are about. This will stay with him forever.
Anonymous said…
Middle will go far. This is truly just the beginning. A very auspicious beginning.

What I love is that all along you have been able to enlist our enthusiasm and support for Middle and his project, without revealing to us your deeper feelings about this whole process. I think we all perhaps sort of "got it" all along, but I really appreciate your having articulated for us what it has meant to you on a deeper level. You have clearly not just been rallying support for your son just for the sake of his winning a competition. There is more to it than that, and it was lovely to get a peek into the impact his growing passion has had on you, his mother.

Dani said…
You are a stronger woman than I. I would have blurted the full story in the beginning. I don't know how you've contained yourself this long.

The fact that he was in 3rd place for so long speaks volumes. It isn't that his video got any worse, or that the others got any better in the past week. It's obvious that the others have just found a way to get more votes in during the home stretch. I hope he realizes that. He earned his spot in the beginning, regardless of where his little purple square sits right now.

I am proud to say that I voted every single day. Not because he's your son, but because I really thought his video was top-notch. I watched them all. If I thought otherwise, I wouldn't have voted at all.

I hope he's as proud of you as you are of him. There are a lot of teens out there with parents who have no idea what their children are interested in, never mind supporting them in whatever that venture may be.
Unknown said…
Great essay. Y'know it is okay if Middle doesn't win. Success takes all forms.
Amy A. said…
What an awesome experience for you all. Regardless of the outcome, a filmmaker has been born!
Anonymous said…
I just know someday we'll look back on this and say "we knew/heard of him back when..."
Anonymous said…
Being a Mom ain't easy is it? Fingers crossed XX
Allison said…
Loved Cloverfield and I loved "going back for beth" and I love the fact that Middle os so drawn to plotlines for heaven's sake. I'm votin'.
It is so NOT something small - this thing you've made a mountain out of. Middle is blessed with a mother who listens, who supports, who gives credence, who values all of the little things that make him who he is. I voted daily (twice, even) and my children and friends voted, too. My youngest, who shares a birthday with middle, responded to my request that he vote by asking if the video was the best one there. He wouldn't vote simply because I asked him to...he had to vote for the right reasons. He's a designer with an unerring eye and a quiet sense of what's "good." He watched at least the top 15 videos and has been voting for Middle's for days now, because it's GOOD.
Win or lose I'm pretty sure that your boy will count this experience as a good one - if for no other reason than the fact that it allowed his mother's love to become very visible - publicly visible - for a while.
You are an inspiration and I'm a little weepy right along with you!
Miz S said…
Aw. I get it, honey. I'm happy to vote for Middle. I do it for you.
kt said…
You're doing a fine job of explaining it.

And he's great, no matter the outcome of the contest.

He's a winner, no matter what, and you and K should pat each other on the back for having contributed to his winner-ness.
Anonymous said…
You are very gifted in expressing your thoughts and emotions so eloquently, Blackbird. The big picture is surely the discovery of Middle's path, and to have found it so young is truly remarkable. He is AWAKE to the possibilies for his future. That is so much bigger than this contest, and so much more exciting, too.

Okay, gotta go. Time to vote. Come join me, people.
alice c said…
I see that Middle's video is one of few voted for by the Staff at Cloverfield. That is a significant achievement worthy of a mention on a resume - congratulations, Middle.