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Beginnings: The Breakthrough Moment

Amy Heckerling, Director

“Am I going to let that get in my way of achieving or doing anything, the fact that I’m more insecure?”

Amy Heckerling.  

I wanted to make movies ever since I was 14. I was in ninth grade. They sat us alphabetically, and since my last name was with an H, there was a boy who sat next to me, his last named started with an I. Eugene. He copied off me all the time. I mean, he was bright, but he just didn’t bother. Like if we had to read a book, he didn’t read it. He would tell us how it happened in the movie. He was very, very smart about films and how they were made, what the shots were, what the people were doing for someone who was our age. I didn’t think he had the world’s best taste or anything, and he certainly didn’t work hard at school. He didn’t do his assignments.

One day, we had to write a composition about what we wanted to be when we grew up. This was an arts school, so pretty much everyone knew what area they were getting into. They might refine it, or whatever, but we were in a specialized school, and you had to have a portfolio to get in. I had always loved movies more than anything — it was just my favorite thing in the world, to watch movies — but I didn’t think it was something anybody could actually aspire to be, you know? It’s too magical and wonderful, and it came from Hollywood or foreign countries, made by genius men. I didn’t think that a person could just say that they wanted to do it, you know?

So I wrote that I wanted to be a writer for Mad magazine, because I love Mad magazine — it was funny and I love the pictures and I love the stories. But then the guy sitting next to me, Eugene, wrote that he was going to make movies. And it made me so angry, because I really, really loved movies more than anybody, and why couldn’t I do that? And this is the guy who copied off me! But it was he who could say he was going to Hollywood to make movies. I just felt like, Wait a minute. You wouldn’t be this angry unless you wanted to do it. But there were no women doing it. That won’t be … allowed. I’d never been out of New York. I didn’t even know where Hollywood is, and how would you function there? I mean, I was a kid. But I decided if anybody’s going to go and do it, I want to. I wanted to do it, but he had the confidence. But am I going to let that get in my way of achieving or doing anything, the fact that I’m more insecure?