Sad news: Roger Ebert has passed away.
Writing on the Web had no greater champion than Ebert. He was encouraging, generous and humble. He didn’t care about the masthead under which your writing appeared. He would share anything he came across and enjoyed. He took joy in using his celebrity to shine light on the work of others and make film criticism an ever-expanding field.
I was once the recipient of his generosity. On January 22, 2012, Roger posted two links to the candler blog on Twitter and Facebook. As if that weren’t enough of a gesture, he very kindly said some nice things about me. After that there was no going back for me; like it or not I was a writer online. Roger said so.
I bring up that experience because I know that he inspired many thousands as he did me. That may even be an understatement.
Besides his little rule book, there is one piece of wisdom of his that is always in my mind. From his foreword to Nicholas Jarecki’s Breaking In: How 20 Film Directors Got Their Start, which I read at a very impressionable age:
It doesn’t matter if you go to film school or not, or which film school, or what you study. It doesn’t matter if you work on film or video, or what kind of camera you use. It doesn’t matter if you write in the morning, or at night, or on yellow pads or on a Macintosh. It doesn’t matter if you work as an intern or an apprentice, in Hollywood or Austin or anywhere else. It doesn’t matter what movies you watched or what books you read—as long as the answer is “a lot of them.” What matters is that you called yourself a movie director, and you made a movie.
Thank you, Roger. Your mark will be felt for generations to come.
- I heard Roger speak in 2011. As ever, he was an inspiration: “Don’t be the next Roger Ebert, be the first you.”
(photo via Roger’s Facebook page)