My Inspiration – Ian Gilchrist

Friday, February 4 2011
My Inspiration – Ian Gilchrist

I value my neck a lot more than three thousand bucks, chief. I’ll find him for three, but I’ll catch him, and kill him, for ten.”
Quint (Robert Shaw)

Jaws (1975)

Jaws is the first film that I can clearly remember fixating on to a rather ludicrous extent. When it opened in the small Canadian town I lived in in 1975, my parents had already seen it at the next town over from us a couple of weeks previously, and my mother had expressly forbidden me from seeing it as she felt it was too “mature” for me. That didn’t stop me from seeing it with my two best friends on the Friday evening that it opened at our local of course, and I can still recall the frisson of anticipation in the cinema that hot summer evening. It was THE movie of the summer of ’75, and quite apart from the fact that it is now acknowledged as the movie that ushered in the modern era of blockbuster cinema, it was quite simply the movie everyone was talking about and everyone HAD to see.

When I watch the film now I vividly recall how the audience reacted as one to every beat and pulse of the film, every scare and every laugh (although no one laughed at how fake the mechanical shark looked when he was finally revealed in daylight). I truly can’t recall another collectively rapturous cinema experience quite like that one, although my age at the time and sepia tinted hindsight no doubt colour my recollection somewhat.

I wasn’t initially inspired by Jaws to work in film mind you: I desperately wanted to be Richard Dreyfuss’ character Hooper, the beatnik ichthyologist (that’s shark expert to you) who is sent by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute to assist the beleaguered Amity townsfolk. The scenes when Hooper goes into the water in the shark cage were beyond thrilling, and his job seemed to be both ridiculously exciting and requiring of geekish smarts. While I loved the character of the shark hating Quint (how did Robert Shaw not win an Oscar for that??), it was the shark loving Hooper that I longed to emulate.

I went back to see Jaws twice more that weekend (how I got that one past my parents I have no idea), and spent the rest of the summer and the following winter reading everything I could about the film and about sharks. A year after that, when it started to dawn on me that science and maths were not my strong suits and thus ‘scientist’ was not going to be an astute career choice, I drifted away from a strict Jaws and sharks diet and into the life of a more general voracious film and music nerd. Jaws remains one of my unshakably favorite films, the first that instilled an over the top obsessiveness in me, and I’ve owned it (and John Williams’ iconic score) on every possible home format…but I hate the fact that I lost an original poster, that adorned my bedroom wall for years, somewhere along the way.

• Ian Gilchrist was instrumental in launching the BFI’s Connoisseur label, in the early days of the world cinema boom, and also ran Electric Pictures’ video arm and worked at the old RTM distribution operation. After a 10 year plus stint in his native Canada and the US, Gilchrist has returned to these shores. Among other things, he now contributes to The Raygun website. To contact Ian, who is currently investigating options in the home entertainment sector, email him at iangilchrist99@hotmail.com

•HMV’s My Inspiration is about the artists, actors and directors we love, sharing with us the lyrics and songs, poetry and dialogue that have inspired them. The journey began in 2006, when David Bowie became the first artist to take part, selecting Syd Barrett’s Gigolo Aunt as his inspiration. Since that time, many of our greatest icons and best new artists from the world of entertainment have featured.

We at the Raygun are asking the UK home entertainment trade for the films, people, or even songs, that inspired them to become part of our business.

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