No film news this month, only gratitude for two local fellas no longer with us.
I have no special insights about Mike Hill or Lew Hunter. I never met either. I do know lots of people who did. To a person, each man was spoken of with the kind of praise you can’t fake.
One time, for a silly scavenger hunt we were doing, a dear friend persuaded Mike to let her take a picture holding his Oscar … while she was dressed as an Oscar. What a kind thing to indulge.
I’ve heard how the Omaha Film Festival folks talk about Lew as a mentor. I’ve heard how people who heard Lew talk at OFF talk about Lew. What a kind man to donate his precious, limited time like that.
I do know Mike and Lew by their work. For my 10th birthday, I was so excited to see “Willow,” which Mike edited. It blew my mind. I think “Apollo 13” is one of the most technically sound films I’ve ever watched. With “Frost/Nixon,” he turned a stuffy stage play about a political interview into a propulsive thriller. With apologies to his longtime collaborator Ron Howard, it wasn’t the directing that transformed that film into something special. It was Mike who found the perfect pace. He always did.
I read Lew’s “Screenwriting 434” for the first time in college. Everyone I know who has ever wanted to write a movie has read it. You want a stat that will blow your mind: In 1998, nine of the top 10 highest-grossing films were written by former students of his. It’s one thing to create art. The ability to help others achieve that dream, to be the stone that splashes in the pond and ripples out into waves of other creation, that’s next level.
Sure, we have some famous performers who would find purchase in a Mount Rushmore of Nebraska movie icons. I would sincerely put Mike and Lew right up there. Legitimately, their influence is as substantial and colossal as any Cornhusker cinephile in history.
I just wanted to share my space with their memories for a moment. I have this space only because I started loving movies around the time I saw “Willow.” I have it only because I learned to write around the time I read “Screenwriting 434.”
You won’t be forgotten.