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April 10, 2013, 12:00 AM | posted by in Filmmakers
Filmmaker Joel Allen Schroeder has clear memories of Sunday mornings during his youth.
He would rush to get the morning newspaper so that he could read “Calvin and Hobbes,” the comic strip about Calvin, a precocious six-year-old boy, and Hobbes, his sardonic stuffed tiger.
“Then I’d cut it out and put it up on my bedroom wall,” says Schroeder.
He so loved the comic that it may even have influenced his first career choice – as a paperboy.
“I’d get to read the comics before I even delivered the newspapers on Sunday,” he says. “I had an instant love of the strip,” he continues. “The imagination and amazing artistry just drew me right in.”
The comic, which debuted in 1985 and was retired on New Year's Eve 1995, had such an effect on him and so many readers around the world that Schroeder decided to base “Dear Mr. Watterson,” his first feature film, on the strip. Schroeder never met Bill Watterson, the comic’s creator. The film isn’t about the man, he says, but “more about the impact and legacy of his work and the power of art.”
Watterson, who is from Chagrin Falls, Ohio, prefers to stay out of the spotlight. “And I wanted to respect that,” Schroeder says.
The film crew made several trips to Ohio for the film’s production and Schroeder is excited to return for the film’s screening. “We were welcomed with open arms on all of our visits and had very successful shoots,” he says. He contrasted his experience here with working in Los Angeles, where filmmaking is commonplace and an annoyance for locals. Ohio, on the other hand, was “very filmmaker-friendly,” he says.
Schroeder became a filmmaker after realizing that his films could have an effect and impact on an audience. “I’m thrilled that I’ll get to see people connect with ‘Dear Mr. Watterson,’” he says. “I hope that people will see it and have an even greater respect for Watterson and Calvin and Hobbes.” Maybe it will even motivate some audience members to get out their Calvin and Hobbes books again or even introduce the strip to their kids or friends.
– Anne M. DiTeodoro
Photo: Director Joel Allen Schroeder and Producer Christopher Browne. Photo by Janet Macoska.
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