Filmmaking / Directing : The Film That Lit Your Fuse by Karen "Kay" Ross

Karen "Kay" Ross

The Film That Lit Your Fuse

Among other fun questions, Deadline has started this series to uplift our inspiration. I love hearing which movies grown actors identified with as children. Of course, Donnie Yen watched Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan movies! LOL!

What lit your fuse? What KINDS of films did it inspire you to make?

The Film That Lit My Fuse: Donnie Yen
The Film That Lit My Fuse: Donnie Yen
The Film That Lit My Fuse is a Deadline video series that aims to provide an antidote to headlines about industry uncertainty by swinging the conversation back to the creative ambitions, formative inf…
Kiril Maksimoski

Good Will Hunting...especially the line: "you toss 150.000 bucks on an education you can get for dollar-fifty in a public library"

So I ditched the college and actually went to the public library...there I learned everything I could about film making, Herman Louis and alike being the "teachers".

Karen "Kay" Ross

LOVE Good Will Hunting. Maybe have made a young director I'm working with watch it LOL!

Kevin Marshall Pinkney

Different direction of Deadline- which I just normally go-to for casting announcements.

Van Ebert

Superman II. I was a little kid and I was knocked out.

Florin Şumălan

Thank you for this, Karen. I found more from this series; I will watch some of them.

This is a playlist with videos from this series:

The playlist on Youtube isn't complete. You can find others by this search link on Deadline:

Florin Şumălan

I grew up mostly with Jean-Claude Van Damme movies and I wanted to be like him. But I liked also other movies that were famous in the 80's, 90's (action, sci-fi, adventure...) and some tv series from that period of time.

I think I saw Donnie Yen first time in the "Ip Man" movie. Since then I started to watch more of his films. He is one of my favorite actors now.

Stefano Pavone

For characters from different backgrounds working together? Ghostbusters. For the concept of an epic sci-fi/adventure trilogy? Back to the Future (Part 3 is my favourite). For character interplay? The TV series "Blake's 7" and "Red Dwarf". :)

Karen "Kay" Ross

Kevin Marshall Pinkney - yeah, there's a LOT of new content with the trades nowadays. Variety, Deadline, IndieWire, The Hollywood Reporter, they all have interview series of different varieties now.

Van Ebert I remember watching Superman with Christopher Reeves when I was very young and loving the soundtrack, but remember my mother loving it more than me (probably because of Mr. Reeves LOL).

Thanks for the links, Florin Şumălan! I used to watch JCVD, too! One of the reasons I became a martial artist! Have you seen the film JCVD (2008)? I got to see that a film festival and was just floored - he should always act in his native language from now on!

Solid selection Stefano Pavone - Have you seen "The Movies That Made Us" on Netflix? One of them is about Ghostbusters ;-)

Tommy Luca

Hello Karen. Great idea. I love stories with a feel good ending, you know the kind, magical pictures. Like these...


IT COULD HAPPEN TO YOU (1994) Which I have noticed the filmmakers borrowed from Classics like IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE (1946) and MIRACLE ON 34th STREET (1947). But, I first was introduced to the world of Walt Disney Productions in the late '70s, pictures like BAMBI (1942), THE ARISTOCATS (1970), THAT DARN CAT (1965), etc. Not too long later it was deeper in the world of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror pictures such as STAR WARS (1977), KING KONG (1933), ALIEN (1979), INDIANA JONES and the RAIDERS of the LOST ARK (1981), THEM! (1954), WAR OF THE WORLDS (1953), and television favorites such as AMAZING STORIES, THE TWILIGHT ZONE, RAY BRADBURY THEATER and many more wonderful pictures and series. I could not get enough, I began to study them and watch all kinds of stuff and genres. Still do, just not as much these days.

Erik Carlson

Hi Karen!,

I have several. The one that really kicked off my love of movies, storytelling, and filmmaking was The Lion King from 1994. It just has everything I could want in a movie: action, epic Shakespearean-like drama, magical fantasy, comedy, romance, etc. Loved it even more when I watched it again for 9th Grade English when we were studying Joseph Campbell's The Hero's Journey. That just opened up a floodgate of imaginative images in my brain that I wanted to create into stories.

Other films that built upon that over the years were Raiders of the Lost Ark, Star Wars: Episode 4: A New Hope, Back to the Future, and (a little later) Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004).

I also have a great love for older cinema as well, in part thanks to my grandmother who introduced me to the Our Gang (Little Rascals) and Laurel and Hardy Shorts, as well as Abbott and Costello meet Frankenstein

My film teacher in high school introduced me to even more like Rear Window, Casablanca, North by Northwest, and The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)

Tommy Luca

All great and wonderful choices, Erik.(APPLAUSE) You have similar taste in Cinema as I do. Especially the Classics. (THUMBS UP)

Erik Carlson

Tom Luca, heh thanks! Yours as well! Definitely!

Florin Şumălan

Karen "Kay" Ross , I have seen JCVD (2008) movie. Why do you think Jean-Claude Van Damme should always act in his native language?

Lauren 'Brialle' McEntyre

I wouldn’t be a filmmaker today without these: The Labyrinth, Jurassic Park (The first one), Ghost, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Fight Club, The Usual Suspects, Mulholland Drive, Pans Labyrinth, The Day Of The Locust, Hocus Pocus, The NeverEnding Story ... I could keep going but I basically fell in love with cult thrillers and adventures. I’m in awe of how the artists were very proficient at hitting certain emotional and psychological cords to keep you engaged and replaying the film over and over.

Karen "Kay" Ross

Florin Şumălan Because JCVD is so much better than a lot of his other films and I think that is in large part because he feels comfortable with the dialogue (but also because he's personally invested in the material since it was based on his own story).

Lauren 'Brialle' McEntyre FANTASTIC list! Jurassic Park was the first PG-13 I saw in theatres without a parent present and I think the only time I allowed myself to scream in a theatre LOL!

Anthony Todaro Oh, man, your inner rebel is showing LOL! Great selection, and I appreciate that you enjoyed T&L as a man. My Own Private Idaho is a unique one and I won't lie, I only watched it to know the hubbub between Keanu Reeves and River Pheonix.

Debbie Croysdale

None of the films I grew up with lit my fuse, I had to dig up history. I enjoyed the Noirs of 40s/50s/60s and some Neo Noirs eg LA Confidential with Kim Basinger. At school all the kids were talking about Star Wars but it felt like a big props, boys toys film to me. It was not until I saw Double Indemnity with Barbara Stanwyck, that I felt moved enough to stop eating my pop and crisps.

Doug Nelson

The film that really got me started was 'Bad Day at Black Rock'. It's theme is as powerful today as it was in the post war '50s. I loved the uniqueness of the cast of characters, their arcs as individuals and as a band of thugs, I love the Anne Francis counterpoint character. All this pulled together by the masterful directing of John Sturges. The result is that all I write & produce today are character study shorts: Things along the lines of The Phone Call, Stturer, The Neighbor's Window (similar to my own, Thy Neighbor's Wife).

Florin Şumălan

Karen "Kay" Ross, I like JCVD 2008 and Jean-Claude Van Damme's monologue, but I think he has other good movies before and after that. When I watched his movies I didn't know too many things about acting and I didn't watch the movies to see if he "acts" good. For me he was true and real in many movies. I think other people could say the same about the actors they like, even if some critics said that the performance of those actors was bad.

I will put here again a link, in case you didn't know about this and you would like to see. Perhaps you can say that in this series he plays more the "acting" thing.

Ridley Scott is executive producer to this series starring Jean Claude Van Damme.

This is the trailer to Jean-Claude Van Johnson:

Leslie Rivera

The 1980s "Flash Gordon" film that Queen scored is one of my faves, Karen E Ross. I love the theatricality, the outrageous costumes, how fake a lot of things look, I just find it tons of fun.

Clara Venegas

Little Women the 2019 version

Ron Johnson

Reservoir Dogs is what pushed me to go to film school, but Alien and Bladerunner got their hooks in me as a teen.

Brian Carlin

The films that sparked my imagination to be a story teller - Stephen Spielberg had a hand in all 3: Back to the Future, Indiana Jones, and Star Wars. But the films that demonstrated to me that it's possible to make movies no matter how much it might feel like a long shot were Evil Dead 1 & 2, Clerks, and El Mariachi. All of them still hold up as great films, and the stories behind how they were made are just as captivating, and the best examples of "If they can do it, so can you" inspiration.

Gabriel Constans

For me, it was When Harry Met Sally (for the dialogue) and Ghandi (for the ability to portray history and make the characters real and relatable).

Sam Borowski

Get Shorty. The film. The dialogue. And, John Travolta. Made me become a Filmmaker. ;) GOD BLESS and STAY FRESH!!!

Zorrawa Jefferson

Well, I really like a Silent Voice

Paul Rivers


John Radtke

Batman Begins

Abdur Mohammed

Long before I could understand anything, I was immersed in the world of Star Wars - I had no idea what was going on, except there were laser swords. Then came David Lynch's Dune - to supplement the movie, I was given Frank Herbert's book of the same name, and that's when Pandora's box was opened for me.

Angela Cristantello

that lit my fuse TONALLY: Little Miss Sunshine and Captain Fantastic. Oof.

that just lit my dang fuse/floored me/made me think "Aw god, I need to make movies": No Country.

John Radtke

Nick that's awesome. I love Bruce Campbell. After reading how they made Evil Dead I have more respect for him.

Krista Crawford

The Goonies. Watching that as a kid, all I wanted was to go on an adventure like they did. That movie made is so easy to just escape into it and it just had it all for me.

Erik Carlson

Krista Crawford, a solid childhood favorite for me as well. "Goonies never say die!"

Jeff Alan Greenway

Some great films mentioned here! I would have to say, as a composer, the Star Wars Trilogy, the Mission, Cinema Paradiso and the Miyazaki movies greatly influenced me. Such inspiring films with amazing scores. From a purely film perspective, I loved Aliens, Being John Malkovich and Amelie (although the music in those films was great too).

Timothy Dee

For me it was 2001 A Space Odyssey (1968--YES I''m OLD!!). When I was a kid, each movie theater had a thousand seats and the screen was enormous. I had never seen a space movie that felt more authentic. The whole experience was absolutely overwhelming. The next day, I went to the library and got a book on how Kubrick's team created all those special effects. That was it. I was hooked.

Many years later, my brother-in-law and I were thrilled that 2001 was finally being released on VHS tape. We rushed to Blockbuster to be among the first to rent it, played in on my 19-inch TV and... we each fell asleep in our chairs.

Wade Cox

for me, the one that kicked off my love of movies and special effects was the original RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK. The one that kicked off my writing career was called THE BOYS FROM BRAZIL. It was a bad movie with a good plot, and I looked at it and said, "I can do better than that."

Aleisha Brooks

Star Wars. Raiders. Taming of the Shrew. Hopscotch. North By Northwest. To Catch a Thief. Yes, my parents raised me on old movies, too. :)

Doug Nelson

Timothy drop a pane of LSD when you watch 2001 A Space Odyssey - it's a hell of a trip.

Timothy Dee

Damn, Doug, I KNEW I forgot something.

Kevin Gamble

What turned me on to sound design was Saving Private Ryan. I never felt so sonically immersed into a film such as this one. There was so much realism, and depth especially when they stormed the beaches.

Theresa Joy Lorenzetti

My fuse was definitely lit by Hitchcock probably Rear Window when I was about 8. I used to skip school to watch the 1:00 movie and the master of suspense.

William 'JPop' Schumpert

All sorts. Directors like Todd Browning, Quinten Tarantino, Ralph Bakshi, David Lynch, Sam Raimi, Hayao Miyazaki. Also grew up watching anime and found my style inspired by Osamu Tezuka and Rumiko Takahashi.

Doug Nelson

Kevin - have you ever 'stormed' a beach or ever been in combat (where the bullets are real)? What do you know about realism? Today, we have an awful lot of younger folk who seem to confuse realism with Hollywood fantasy.

Frank Blaney

7 Samurai & anything by Kurosawa and Kitano.

Jeff Zampino

I still remember my first two movies theater experiences: Candleshoe (with an embryonically young Jodie Foster) and Star Wars. My grandmother brought me to Star Wars and every time a ship zoomed by, she exclaimed "Oh, my goodness!" We sat there wide-eyed and hearts-a-pounding and I was hooked.

Jason Feiler

I know this is an old thread but I'll still put my favorites up. Yes, there are the classics Citizen Kane, 12 Angry Men, but for me it was Casino by Martin Scorsese edited by the amazing Thelma Schoonmaker. I also fell in love the Repo: The Genetic Opera for editing, but mostly it's color grade.

David DeHaas

I don't remember lol... I watched metropolis in a class in Hs wen i was a senior... but maybe what really got me going was seeing the producers on broadway i think thats when I first woke up LOL

Paul Moxon

Too many, but the one which has had the biggest impact on me was "King Kong". I was totally taken on a journey of escapism and felt this huge emotional connection to what was effectively just a puppet. Years later I realised that it was because they'd done such a good job with the character of "Kong" that they'd given him a "soul" and created this incredible connection with the audience. So ever since then I've worked hard on my characters to give them depth and layers and maybe strive to achieve that connection which "King Kong" had with me.

Christian Nommay

Any movie made by Akira Kurosawa, Micheal Mann. John Carpenter, and John Woo (before his US period).

Craig Z Short

Mine was el mariachi and after seeing it I knew I could make a feature.

Christiane Lange

The first film that really affected me as a child was Fellini's La Strada. I consider the Pacino remake of Scarface a classic, but ditto for This Is Spinal Tap. That film still makes me laugh. I lived with a hairband back in the day, and Spinal Tap is so spot on.

Kinney Scott


Stefano Pavone

The Back to the Future trilogy introduced me to the concept of an epic trilogy and a lasting legacy, while other 80s classics like Ghostbusters and Manhunter showed me the benefits of style blending together with substance.

Aray Brown

Any Hitchcock film

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