I received this in 2002, after visiting my friend Phil’s middle school class in the Bronx and speaking with his students about life as a filmmaker.
The first thing that stands out in this memory is the metal detectors and level of security maintained at the school. I grew up attending public school, but we never had this degree of security and law enforcement. In all fairness, the visit was a year after 9/11, but Phil said the school was always like this. It still creeped me out to feel like I was in lockdown.
My talk was mediocre at best. I wasn’t inspiring, but nobody threw anything at me so I must have engaged them enough to tolerate my blathering on about jobs and commercials and movie sets. In the years since that visit I’ve done much better at giving advice about living and working in “the business”.
That afternoon was also my first realization of how screwed up our education system is in this country. Phil showed me the books that the students used (and often shared), which were mostly tattered, and also informed me that the teachers were responsible for buying their own supplies, which I never knew. I also came to understand how these students did the bare minimum because very few of their teachers cared. They were underpaid and under appreciated, and unfortunately the students suffered.
I’ll never comprehend how we can spend trillions of dollars on wars and other interests outside of this country, while our own people wither and waste away due to apathy and neglect.