I met Andy Nelson as a junior at University of Colorado. It’s all a little fuzzy to me now, but I think that would have been around 1993, maybe ’94. We were both heading in to RA positions in the dorms and ended up on the same residence life team: Baker Hall.
He was in film school at the time, I was in J-school, and we were both goons for movies. But there are people who enjoy films, celebrate the craft, and collect them on then-VHS tapes, and there are those who invested heavily in laser discs. The latter group developed a special relationship with the films they viewed, diving into “Special Features” and “Alternate Endings” long before they were cool. Choosing to listen to the director’s commentary track on a new addition to their library before the main audio track because — who are we kidding — that’s the more interesting stuff, anyhow.
Andy was a laser disc person.
My final graduation project senior year was a documentary film that covered the making of Andy’s graduation project, a short film shot on location at the Denver International Airport. Yeah, long enough ago that we could bring in lights and cameras and film in the terminal without actually paying for a flight.
We lived together for a while after college. We have files of ideas for scripts and projects in mothballs. In spite of best intentions — and some terrific ideas, of course — time and circumstance never saw favor for us to finish.
Then, in 2011, after some years of cajoling, I managed to talk Andy into joining me for a friendly podcast in which we might just muse on movies we like. We did one on Raiders. Then we did one on Temple of Doom. Suddenly we were meeting every single Thursday night like clockwork. After 20 years of trying to actually make movies with this guy, the project we get to stick is a podcast in which we talk about movies. Strange tides.
Andy lives in Phoenix now. He has a fantastic family — they totally outclass him in all the best ways. His was one of the few ports in my drive which gave us a night to do a few shots (the kind in a glass) and set up a fun shoot (the kind with a camera). We went with a poker theme, as we’d just done The Sting on the podcast and I wanted to do an aged piece for Andy, something we might composite into a movie poster some day. Funny thing is, I don’t actually know if Andy is any good at cards. After all these years, we’ve never played.
To Andy, I owe great thanks for so many things. He is an inspiration to me in his love of his craft, and he teaches me more about the art of the story with every conversation. He operates with a machine’s efficiency, putting my own efforts at productivity to great shame. But more than anything, he’s a man of honor. In my own efforts to live true to myself and my word to others, I have Andy as my ballast, always in my head, reminding me what it means to be strong. I’m deeply proud to be working with him and look forward to many years to come.