The day I hoped would never come has indeed come to be. The passing of one of the most influential people on my life, George A. Romero.
When I started film school the teacher went around the room and asked everyone who inspired them the most to become filmmakers. At the time it was the in thing to say Martin Scorsese so most people said him and a few answers were interesting if not obvious. I was the standout because I said George Romero. I have a long list of filmmakers that have inspired me over the years but when it comes to the ones that literally shaped me that list is very short. Indeed a key name on that short list is George Romero.
When I was really young I became fascinated by the film Creepshow. I found the graphic novel of it a couple months before the film came out and somehow managed to convince my dad to take me to see it. It terrified me and enthralled me. I ended up watching most of the story of “The Crate” from the lobby. Despite it scaring me out of my wits, and probably scarring me for life in some ways, I also took notice of the director because even as a young child I could see that a craftsman was behind the wheel. My love of the film made me not only seek out his other films but also inspired me to read Fangoria magazine. All of this was life changing. He was one of the key reasons why even at a young age I wanted to be a filmmaker.
As I eventually sought out his other films and falling in love with every single one I was incredibly inspired by George Romero. Most of his films were independently made. He usually wore several hats which aside from directing included writing, editing, shooting, and producing. To a young filmmaker this was nothing but pure inspiration. Reading about how he made his films and his approach to them made me want to follow in his footsteps. Plus just the fact that his films are amazing.
His influence is well known on the genre and indeed the whole zombie sub-genre was basically created by him. Very few shaped an entire aspect of the horror genre like he did.
I met George a few times over the years at different conventions. He was always pleasant and accommodating and completely gracious with fans. He has always been my favorite person that I’ve met. Each time was like the first as I was always nervous but as soon as I started talking to him I was calm as he had that way about him. Like talking with an old friend.
I was so lucky to have seen him as many times as I have. Each one was just as special as the last and the next. I can never put into words the influence he had on me. Everything I have ever done creatively had a piece of my admiration for him. I don’t think I could ever put into words how much he meant to me personally. Without his impact on me I don’t even know who I would be today.
His influence spread along every part of my life. Not just how I would deal with people on sets (always be kind to the cast and crew) but also in how to approach something creatively. While I’ve always had an interest in photography I never explored it as much as I started to about 7 years ago. Then in 2013 George inspired me once again even if he never realized it.
While I was attending Flashback Weekend that summer I decided to start taking my photography interest more seriously. I also wanted to do something fun for myself so on the last day I went around to a couple of the guests and asked if I could just take their picture. Romero was the biggest name there and I was hesitant but I figured it wouldn’t hurt to ask. I went up to his table at a lull moment and asked him if he would mind if I took a quick picture and he said no problem. He also asked me about my camera at the time and we had a short conversation on photography before people came by for autographs. This was one of the first portrait shots I ever did at a convention and has since then become my “thing” to do when I meet people. I got the courage to pursue doing it because of George.
There is so much more to say about how much George Romero has meant to me. But my story and experience is just one of many. As I write this I see one post after another after another on social media of people sharing theirs. He affected so many people there is no way to even know the extent of it. I can speak for myself when I say without George my life would not have been the same.
I can never say thank you enough George. I am heartbroken you are no longer with us but you have inspired not only myself but countless of others. I’ll just end this with the way he always signed autographs: