At 27, I Learned About Death

It's been a tough year.

At an age that most people typically start worrying about their own mortality, and rightfully so, I've found myself more saddened by the passing of others than any other time in my life. I know that this is far from uncommon for someone my age and I actually take solace in the shared experience of grief and knowing that so many can feel so much for someone they didn't even know. It's sad, but it's a happy kind of sad I suppose.
Until this past year, I have been fortunate to have not experienced as much personal loss as so many others have or such loss occurred at such a young age that the impact was less severe. It's always sad when someone dies, no matter who or what the circumstances. What has seemed so strange about this past year is the bombardment of deaths of people who I felt, and unfortunately only realized after their passing, how much they shaped who I am as a person. As a filmmaker and as an artist, this influence can not be overstated. As such, I find it important to reflect on these people and pay respect for the incredible voices that I was fortunate to share the earth with at one time.

Everyone is affected by different losses in different ways, but these are five individuals that I won't ever forget.

On February 24, 2014, Harold Ramis passed away at the age of 69. Although his death occurred nearly two years ago, I feel like this was the start of my childhood idols beginning to disappear. As a student of film, when someone asks me what my favorite movie is, I always feel like I should have a more sophisticated or pretentious answer, but if I'm being honest my answer is and always will be Ghostbusters. Ramis taught me about writing, about being funny, and being smart.

A little over a year later, Leonard Nimoy passed away on February 27, 2015. There are few people out there that I feel contributed to the fundamentals of who I am as a person and how I view the world. A view that knowledge and understanding are what drives us forward. That fairness and equality are pivotal to finding that understanding. And that, of course, science and logic provide the path and that you can be empathetic and thoughtful without always being passionate or emotional. Nimoy was one of those people who helped shape the way I view the world and what it can be.

Only two months in, 2015 was shaping up to be a tough year.

On September 5, 2015 my grandpa, Bill "Boompa" Beecher, passed away at the age of 93. I was fortunate to have him in my life for as long as I did, a sentiment I know many others my age are unable to say. He was a WWII veteran, engineer, inventor, Spartan, picky eater, collector of bear figures, wearer of red sweaters, fan of trains, and lover of a good Old Fashioned. I learned a lot from my grandpa, but most notably that it's okay to enjoy the things that you like, even if it seems weird to others.

And then, within a course of a week, David Bowie and Alan Rickman passed away on January 10, 2016 and January 14, 2016, respectfully.

There is little one can say in words to describe David Bowie and his influence. One of my favorite childhood memories is watching Labyrinth with my brother and laughing at the incredible weirdness that is that movie. His cameo in Zoolander is one of my all time favorite movie moments. And then, of course, there's this video:

David Bowie changed my perception of music and he taught me to embrace weirdness. And was one of those guys you felt would live forever. Like I said, there's few things you can say about Bowie. He's freaking Bowie, man.

Die Hard
 comes in at a close second to Ghostbusters as one of my all-time favorite movies. As both a fan and as a filmmaker, I will fight anyone who says this film doesn't have a near perfect script that defines its genre. And at the cornerstone of this script coming to life is Alan Rickman, whose mesmerizing and Shakespearean performance dominates the screen, delivering some of the most quotable lines in movie history. With Die Hard, and numerous films to follow, Alan Rickman showed me how to act. He also showed me how to do an Alan Rickman impersonation and how to properly celebrate Christmas.

With the double blow of these last two deaths so close to one another and the somber winter that causes one to reflect at the start of a new year, I felt the time had come to put this list of names together. Two incredible voices extinguished so close to one another made the world feel eerily quiet.

Many who have passed in 2015 who I could talk about, from the terrifying Wes Craven (who I saw on the set of Scream 4 when I was working background), the great Christopher Lee (my favorite part of every movie he's in), or the legendary BB King (who headlined the first concert I ever attended). It's been a tough year. The list will unfortunately continue to grow, but those on it won't soon be forgotten.

For me, at 27, I extend a special goodbye and more importantly, thank those we lost for everything they have done for me and countless others. I am who I am because of them. 

So to Boompa, Egon, Spock, Ziggy, Hans, and the numerous others we've lost, here's to you.
Oh yeah, and fuck cancer.


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