“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

What is your favourite movie?

An old woman on a train in France told me that her favourite was Casablanca, but it made her sad to think about the War. A little boy in Costa Rica told me that it was Superman. He wished he could fly.

I have asked that question to people from all walks of life. It sometimes takes a while, but I always get an interesting answer. Everyone has an answer. And everyone has a story.

I used to work at the local movie theatre. I loved watching the faces of the audiences as they laughed, cried, and sometimes shuddered.. together. What a magical place. I can't think of any place else where people of different races, religions, and ideologies can sit together in a big, dark room and enjoy themselves.

Around the world, cultures and languages may differ, but the ancient, and now increasingly modern art of storytelling is pervasive, alluring and powerful. Movies are a shared phenomenon. I believe that popular culture can give the world a shared set of experiences, a starting point to relate to one another: a way to open a conversation, to start a dialogue, and to understand a little bit about someone else.

I want to produce someone's favourite movie.

April 2006: Reflections on my essay from 2003

It has been three years since I answered the question, "What do you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" I replied that I wanted to make someone's favorite movie. I have spent the past three years in pursuit of that goal. In 2003, I founded a company, along with a fellow HBS graduate, to create a new kind of film experience for children: an interactive movie that allows kids to control the story. I worked obsessively on the project, sometimes to my own detriment, but in this pursuit I am extremely proud of the first in what should be a long series of interactive movies called Choose Your Own AdventureR. The first film is complete and will debut on DVD this summer. It is the thrilling story of a family sticking together when things don't go their way. I have screened the movie for many children, and the response has been overwhelmingly positive. I have no doubt that one of them will call it their favorite movie.

— Jeff Norton