My Superpower is a regular guest column on the Skiffy and Fanty blog where authors and creators tell us about one weird skill, neat trick, highly specialized cybernetic upgrade, or other superpower they have, and how it helped (or hindered!) their creative process as they built their project. Today we welcome Kyle Burnett to talk about how the power of Cinematic Superimposition relates to Big Driver.
Origin stories for most superheroes involve tragedy of one type or another. My story is no different. My super power is called Cinematic Superimposition. What this does is allow me to see and hear everything in terms of cinematic production value.
Growing up, I experienced trauma of both the emotional and physical variety. When I was four years old, I watched my three year old brother fall into a river and drown in front of me. I helplessly watched my father deteriorate from Huntington’s Chorea before finally passing when I was seventeen. In a single year, I cremated my step father, my sister, and another of my little brothers. It happened to be the same year my grandfather passed, but I wasn’t involved in his cremation.
As a child, I was homeless for a time, starved, made to go without heat or electricity when money ran out. We lived for a good part of my teen years in an area where my skin color made me the target of a lot of hate, which caused daily attacks from other kids. I’ve been beaten, stabbed, and shot at. I’ve be humiliated and made to feel like I didn’t deserve to be alive. Life, to say the least, has not been easy.
If this were a comic book, I would rise. I would stand tall and show the world my super power. So that is what I am doing with my project Big Driver. At age five, my older brother left me alone in the bedroom at his friend’s parent’s house. He told me to stay there and watch a movie. I did two things for the first time, and one for the last time, that night. The firsts: I sat on a waterbed and I watched a horror movie. The thing I did for the last time, pee in my pants. Okay, I don’t know for sure if that was the last time, but I don’t ever remember doing it again. The movie was Stephen King’s Children of the Corn. I watched with delight as a seemingly quiet town turned on the unsuspecting visitors. When the movie ended and my brother came back into the room, I sat there delighted. I asked if he would rewind it so I could watch it again.
I fell in love with horror movies and Stephen King that night. So when my mother began working the counter at a video store when I was eight years old, my favorite thing to do was to borrow tapes from the store. First, I was allowed to take one tape at a time if I dusted the shelves at the tiny little store. So I would dust, then select a tape, then sprint the mile or so back to our house and watch it. Once it was over, I would rewind the tape, run back to the store, and ask if I could take another tape. After a while, the store owner, who would later become my stepfather, would allow me to take a few tapes at once, as long as they weren’t new releases. When the store moved to a slightly larger location, and they got an office with a smelly old couch in the back, I was in heaven. Then I could sit back there all day and watch movies, including new releases. It was always a sad day when someone would come in and pull the cover box for the movie I was watching off the shelf. Then I’d have to rewind it and take it up to the counter so my mom could check it out to the customer. I spent as much time as I could in the back of that run down store. When my stepfather would come in and need to work in the office, he would tell me to come back after he was done.
Brock’s Used Books was in the old building with the video store. When I got evicted from the office, and ran out of cover boxes to shrink wrap or tapes to return to the shelf, I would go over and read Garfield books on the floor of the bookstore. Brock knew my parents, so he never threw me out when I never bought anything. After a while, he would actually start saving MAD Magazine trade books for me. One day when I walked in I saw it. It was It. The Stephen King book was sitting on the desk where Brock had set it after finishing it. I recognized the name from the movies. I had watched Carrie, Christine, and Children of the Corn by then and they were all favorites. So I asked what I thought was a smart question.
“Hey, isn’t that the guy that writes those movies?”
Brock laughed. He went on to explain that he wrote the books that became the movies. I asked if I could read It. I was ten years old. Brock said that my mother wouldn’t appreciate me reading books like that. I ran from the store and was back in less than a minute after checking with her. She said she didn’t care, which, if you know my mother, could not be more accurate of a statement when it comes to everything regarding me. So I read It. Since that day, I have read every single Stephen King work that I could get my hands on, most of them multiple times. He is my idol.
With movies and Stephen King playing such a big part in my life, the only thing I could think to do with my future was make movies, which is why September 25, 2013 will forever be known as Stephen King day. It was the day I was granted a contract to produce a short film based on his story “Big Driver”. The day that I realized my super power would come in handy. Cinematic Superimposition allows me to see everything in my world for it’s value on a movie set. Every place I go becomes a location to set a movie in my head. Every discarded piece of equipment becomes a prop. Every song becomes a score. It was this super power that helped me survive my childhood, and now I want to see how far it will go.
This is why I am running a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to help produce my short film, Big Driver, based on the story by Stephen King. So if you see fit to help an up and coming superhero make his dreams come true, check out the campaign.