Film Courage: What key steps did you take to go from being a tenured professor? Most people would do many things that aren’t good to be in those shoes. I’m sure first of all you had to deal with social pressure, people were probably trying to talk you out of it…maybe not? What steps did you take?
Dr. Ken Atchity, producer/author: Well…in retrospect you can always make it look more planned and logical than what it was at the time. But I basically…I ran into a very inspiring many whose name is Norman Cousins who was the editor of Saturday Review world of those days and he came to speak in a class of mine at Occidental College and it turned out we shared a motto that no one else in the world had ever heard of and that motto was a single sentence by the Spanish philosopher [José] Ortega y Gasset that said “I think the only immoral thing is for a being not to use every instant of its existence with the utmost intensity.” And I had never heard anyone else quote that, but after his talk in my class I asked him to come to my office and I showed him that it was framed above my desk and so needless to say we bonded.
Long story short, I asked him what I should do when I grow up which I’d asked male authority figures all my life basically. He told me after we got to know each other that I should consider the entertainment business because it was much broader than the academic world and people can basically do whatever…anything creative you’re encouraged to do basically. You can find your own way. There are no rules and schedules and all of those kind of things that we find in academia.
And I love academic you know? The world and the ideas that are exchanged and all of that. But it was restricting and it was (for me) suffocating. Which is a word that means a lot to me personally. It’s my most ancient nightmare being suffocated and I’ve never been suffocated in the… (Watch more video interviews with Ken Atchity here).