The winner of Fangoria’s 2006 award for “Highest Body Count” led me down a path to a Master’s degree program.

While I am not a fan of horror movies in general, I am a fan of Nathan Fillion. Four years after Firefly and three years before Castle, he was acting in a movie called “Slither.” IMDB.com describes the plot as “A small town is taken over by an alien plague, turning residents into zombies and all forms of mutant monsters.”

This was James Gunn‘s debut as a feature director after he penned both Scooby Doo movies and Dawn of the Dead. It surprised me how much I enjoyed it. It was well-written, funny, solid directing choices, and it stayed true to the genre. For a first time director, this is impressive. Yet not surprising that he has since gone on to write and direct both of the Guardian of the Galaxy movies.

I began reading his blogs on MySpace since this was pre-Twitter and before Facebook opened up to non-students. I joined the ranks of the “James Gunn Appreciation Society” on his website and made friends with the webmaster.

One of his posts was about how he was doing a “Yes Binge.”

A Yes Binge is basically making a commitment for six months to say “YES” to anything you’re on the fence about. If it’s an automatic “no,” say “no,” but if you have to think about it, say “yes.”

At the time, I was in a bit of a rut and this idea struck a real chord. On that same blog post, he invited people to join him at the Lake Perris Fair to help cheer on the car he was sponsoring in a demolition derby. I and a few others from the message boards carpooled the two hours outside of Los Angeles to join him.

Two major things happened as a result of this.

The first was that the webmaster, Linda, flew down from Seattle and we were able to hang out in person. We became fast friends. She told me all about herself and her town. Later, when I decided to leave LA to start fresh somewhere, I ended up in Seattle. Linda was the only person I knew there. She and her family took great care of me while I got used to a new city.

The second thing was that I fell in love with photography. I ran around snapping shots with my point and shoot camera having the time of my life. Because Gunn had sponsored the car, we were able to watch the race from the pit. Below is my favorite snap from that day.

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I spent the day with a filmmaker that I admired, fell in love with photography, hung out with a bunch of great people, made a lifelong friend, and our driver won!

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After that day, my camera was my constant companion. Before I left Los Angeles, I was able to photograph a Q&A and screening of “Slither” with Gunn and some of the other actors. The following year, I moved to Seattle and later enrolled in a Master’s program for photography. I’ve been attending part-time and am about halfway through the program.

By attending an event off of a general invitation on a blog by someone I had never met, I gained the confidence to try more new things. This led me to cold emailing the Emerald City Comicon director and asking for a volunteer photography position. He said yes and I have been able to shoot six of the conventions and take photos like the below.

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I have always found it interesting that one person can watch “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and want to be an archaeologist, while another will want to be an actor, yet another may become a filmmaker. I watched a horror film and will end up with a Master’s degree and a portfolio filled with legends.

The world is an interesting place. I’m glad that it has these two in it to inspire me to do more, be more, and say yes more because you never know where it may lead.

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This was originally written and submitted for a writing challenge for Creators.co: For this writing challenge, we want you to tell us about a movie, TV show, game, book, quote, piece of art etc. that affected a change in your life. 

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