The Catalyst to My Fandom: ‘Back to the Future’ Shaped My Future


We all have that moment when the right fandom property at the right time changes our course, and we go on to dedicate our life to something. The Catalyst to My Fandom is a place for all of us to share those life-altering moments in fandom. For me, it was how Back to the Future changed the shape of my future.

Back to the Future. A breath-taking, inspiring, and downright incredible film. In 2010, I’m flipping through TV channels when I discover there is a film on ITV2 called Back to the Future. I ask my mum what it is. She tells me it’s an 80’s film about time travel and that I might like. I become interested in “time travel” and so I decide to give it a go. I fell in love. In those two hours, 12-year-old me awoke and was transported into a world of amazing wonders and endless possibilities. Robert Zemeckis showed me just how spectacular a film can be with his comedy, dramatic scenes, special effects, and technology.

Back to the Future title card

Before Back to the Future

Before my introduction to Back to the Future, I didn’t really have a great interest in film. I was in that stupid mindset where I assumed that every film before the 90’s was rubbish. It’s not like I didn’t like film. I loved Harry Potter and Disney films and obsessed over High School Musical at the time. I just wasn’t that bothered about them at the time. However, my dad brought me up watching Doctor Who and Star Trek. Which only now I realize was the beginning of my love for sci-fi. I was much more interested in TV than film. All that was required was for me to find the right film. One that would make me understand just how much more amazing the industry was then I thought.

Back to the Future DeLorean car
The DeLorean also changed my mind about cars being stupid and boring.

The Catalyst for My Fandom

Back to the Future is a mesmerizing film. Those few moments after I finished watching it for the first time I felt as if nothing else in the world mattered. All I cared about was this one film. I immediately watched the second and third films and became obsessed. And because I loved Back to the Future so much I went and watched more films of the genre. Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Star Wars and so on. Part III even go me into Westerns. The characters and actors also became a massive part of my life. I kid you not, I have watched almost every one of Michael J. Fox’s films. Which again made me appreciate other genres of film.

All this basically came together and shaped my future by giving me a personality. And that personality I found out, is the one of a fangirl. Instead of trying to be like my friends and “fit in with the crowd”, I became a person I was just happy with being. And through the power of the internet, I found like-minded people. Without fandoms, the last seven years of my life by far would not have been as great.

Back to the Future lightning striking clock tower
An extraordinary scene. One that still makes me hold my breath.

My love for films and my obsession with the making of them made me question film as my future. Whether I wanted to go into the industry as a career. The answer was yes. I felt that I wanted to give something to film as a thank you for what Back to the Future gave me. One of the things that really amazed me in Back to the Future was the technology and special effects. They blew my mind. And the way the cinematography and sound made me feel was extraordinary. Seven years later as I watch the clock tower scene, I still fear that Doc won’t make it, and Marty will be stuck in the past. Even though I know he will make it. That’s how much of an effect they have on me. That’s what made me think of studying film in the future.

I went and did film studies as an A-Level subject. And here I was introduced to films such as Double Indemnity, Metropolis, and American History X. All which impacted my desire to be in film. I also had a fantastic teacher who understood my love for Back to the Future and showed me some life-changing films.

Why Back to the Future is so special

Back to the Future is not only special in the way it is made but in its story and characters. Zemeckis turned a simple car into one of greatest objects ever. He made the future look fake, but an amazing sort of fake. A fake place you really want to live in. And he created one of the coolest characters in film history in Marty McFly. This guy can skateboard, plays the guitar, and travels through time with his mad scientist friend! How much cooler can you get?

Combining so many different time periods to make one story, to me, is what sets Back to the Future apart. They travel to the fifties, the old west, the future, alternative realities. Each period involves the same actors playing the same types of characters. Despite the deliberate repetition and despite going to so many different periods, they still make the adventure in each one unique and exciting.

Back to the Future characters played by Michael J Fox

Also, going back to my talk on cinematography, the micro elements are also a huge factor to why the film is special. The music is what keeps you on edge and scared for the characters. The cinematography makes you gasp at the settings, and you feel aligned to the characters through the different shots. The audience actually feels as though they have stepped away from reality. They are in a different world.

The Takeaway

Since watching Back to the Future, my life has been amazing and so much more exciting. It inspired my love for film and because of that I have met some amazing people and have been given opportunities I never thought I would have. And thanks to Back to the Future I am indeed going into a career in film. This September I will be going to university to study TV and Film Set Design. As I said before, I want to do something in film as a thank you. I don’t know where I would be without this film. It well and truly has shaped my future.

Also, I met Christopher Lloyd last year, and that was a pretty amazing moment.

Fandom is built on a foundation of passionate people with deep and unshakable knowledge spread across the entire pop culture landscape. The only way for that to manifest is timing: the right fan with the right property at the right time. Luminaries of film, music, television, games, and comics have all had that watershed moment where something infected them, and the impulse was too strong to ignore. We have shared some of those moments, and hopefully, you will join us in doing so as well.

A huge nerd studying TV and Film Set Design
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