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5Q4: Chris Decker

In some ways, everyone is now a movie maker. Many of us write, direct, and star in our own Capraesque featurettes, be it goofy Instagram postings or the gazillion thingies put up on the Tok. Heck, I once made a “movie” lugging a VHS camera all around the playground at what is now Love Elementary School. It was called, “Where’s Abourihan?” The plot? I couldn’t find Abourihan, kept asking everyone if they’d seen him, all while this utterly charming kid was jumping down in the background saying, “Hey, I’m here, right here!” Cinematic excellence, Palm d’Or, Oscars galore. But to make a real movie, to have an idea, write a script, storyboard the film, gather a cast and crew, all while seeking funding to cover expenses, well, that scares the heck out of me. But not Chris Decker and his wife Heather. They are doing all of this, now, right now. Inspired by his grandfather who accompanied him to the movies, influenced a bit by the horror genre, and supported by his spouse, Chris is taking his passion for storytelling on celluloid to the ultimate level—he’s about to cry out “Action!” Here are his answers to 5Q4 Chris Decker.

Alameda Post - Chris Decker looks into a camera while filming
Chris Decker. Photo courtesy Chris Decker.

At what moment did you discover that you wanted to be an artist?

There was no single moment, it was a lifetime of winding paths that were intersected by moments of inspiration and influence. However, there was a day where I realized that many of these paths were leading me in one direction. I had wanted to become a filmmaker in high school but ended up pursuing a biology major in college. During a period of deep dissatisfaction with that particular path I visited Pixar Animation Studios. It was overwhelming to be in the presence of so much creativity.

The people there celebrated creativity. They valued it. They were proud of who they were. In short, it was a revelation. I spent all day there, breathing deep and filling my lungs, hoping to absorb the creative atmosphere into my bloodstream through some kind of secret artist osmosis. As I walked back out the front doors, I made a decision that I was going to pursue a creative career and life. In 2017 I graduated with a degree in Graphic Design and I’m now in pre-production on my first short film. To this day I don’t know if any of this would’ve happened without that day at Pixar.

Alameda Post - Heather Decker holds a microphone and speaks onstage
Heather Decker. Photo courtesy Chris Decker.

Who was the most influential person who helped you achieve your goal?

My wife has been the most influential person for me, without a doubt. She was the first person I told when I wanted to switch my major from biology to graphic design and she supported me without hesitation. Later, when I realized I still wanted to be a filmmaker, there was no other person on Earth who supported me through my own insecurities and false starts. To this day she continues to support me as my producing partner. Any success I have had or may have in the future is shared with her.

Another person I would acknowledge for helping me achieve my goals was my grandfather. He took me to the movies every weekend growing up. It was those Saturdays at the cinema, sitting next to him, engulfed in the light of the projector that I first started my film education.

Tell about the best—or a best—experience you had as a performer.

The first day on set as a director was my favorite day as a filmmaker so far. Until just a few years ago, my desire to be a filmmaker was a secret. A secret that I guarded deep inside my soul under lock and key, and only a couple individuals had ever been let in on it. After a lot of encouragement from my wife, I opened the vault and made that part of myself public. I braced for the proverbial punch in the arm from a nonexistent bully but instead received nothing but support from friends and family. On set that first day I was surrounded by those same friends and family who had made the journey for no other reason than to help me.

The term independent film can mean a lot of different things. It’s a genre, a budget, and an attitude. To a filmmaker, however, an independent film is lasting evidence of generosity and support. I felt that more on my first day on set than I had at any point up until then.

Conversely, tell us about a pretty bad experience.

Sitting in a cinema full of people while they watch your film is a kind of torture. As soon as it starts playing you’re cursed with almost superhuman levels of observation that last the exact run time of your film. While more altruistic people may want to run out of the theater and use these new powers of observation for good, such as solving murder mysteries in record time, I use these powers to watch every person in the theater for any indication that they’re bored or don’t like the film. Every head tilt, every whisper, every shift in their seat is interpreted as a negative review.

Alameda Post - Heather and Chris Decker
Chris and Heather Decker. Photo courtesy Chris Decker.

Any advice to folks out there hoping to pursue a life in the arts?

Art and creativity are part of the human condition and anybody can pursue a life in the arts. Creativity is not some noble accolade awarded to a select few. However, creativity is a job just like any other. You need to show up and work on it everyday and think of your creative progress the same as any other professional development. In the end, I’d rather try and fail than regret never trying at all.

You can fulfill your dream of being a movie mogul by helping support Chris and Heather Decker. Check out their fundraising video below, then follow them on Instagram @phantom_cinema_bloodline.

Gene Kahane is the founder of the Foodbank Players, a lifelong teacher, and former Poet Laureate for the City of Alameda. Reach him at [email protected]. His writing is collected at

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