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Turn Back

​If granted a wish to harness specific power derived from a film, David Seth Cohen might likely choose the power to turn back time Superman had in the first movie starring Christopher Reeve. In that installment, the man of steel was able to change the course of events by using his super speed to reverse the earth’s rotation. But alas, it’s a superpower that no one has in real life.

If he possessed any superpower at all, the 36-year old filmmaker who admits to pulling a ‘Ferris Bueller’ as a child in order to stay home to watch movies (Superman and Rocky are his favorite) would probably have a much easier time persuading Adam Sandler to have a drink with him.

Many of the difficulties in the last six years of filming the search for his idol would also have been easier to overcome.  Like Groundhog Day, he could just relive the day and fix whatever is needed in order to change anything to the outcome he desired. But real life doesn’t have the benefits of editing, rewrites and special  effects like the movies. Ordinary life isn’t always cinematic, doesn’t always end neatly, and what’s occurred in the past, whether painful or glorious, are unchangeable.

Most of the time, day to day life is like driving through a storm. To see a mere glimpse ahead, all we can do is use windshield wipers to keep up with the downpour. We often see things only when they’re already at close distance and frequently can only watch as things quickly pass us by.

Especially in this era where multitasking reigns supreme, we’re almost always reacting to what’s happening at a given moment. Hardly do we have time to reflect on the totality of our journeys, where they began and where they might end.  All most of us are clear about is the certainty of death, and all in between is just a blur.  It isn’t exactly living in the moment as much as it is surviving till the next email or text or message or tweet. Too many ways to connect, too many reasons to feel alienated.

The young filmmaker’s personal story touches on all of these: on the certainty of death, on the quest to live one’s life to the fullest versus merely surviving, on passing opportunities, on reality of life in the movies.  


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Filming his own coming of age is important to Dave Cohen because he would like to share the universality of a dream, not just his own but of his friends as well.  And it is special also because in Finding Sandler, not only does Cohen find himself but also a friend Lost in Yonkers.

The story begins in 1998 before the addiction to cell phones, Facebook messages and texting became a pandemic. Fresh out of college, Dave was hired as a Production Assistant for a movie called Guy Gets Kid, a comedy in which Sandler was starring and which was later released as Big Daddy.

Then gainfully employed in his first feature film, he was quite excited to be around the comedian and to occasionally have some interaction with him, however fleeting. The young graduate was just grateful for the opportunity to work alongside bona fide actors and film crew and was resolute in doing the most diligent job he could at whatever task, no matter how menial it might have seemed.

So when for the premiere of The Waterboy in early November Cohen was asked to deliver Sandler’s wardrobe to his Upper West Side apartment, he did so without putting much thought into it.  The delivery would likely be quick so he agreed to drop off Autumn, a fellow production assistant, to her home.

It was quite a surprise therefore when instead of leaving the clothes with the doorman, he was instructed by the front desk to proceed to the actor’s apartment. He was even more shocked when Sandler himself answered the door and invited him to come in.

Shockingly, the aspiring filmmaker found himself standing inside, speaking to his idol and being shown the views by the comedian himself. Sandler also offered him a drink and asked whether he would like to sit and chat for a bit. Understandably, Cohen was completely overwhelmed. But reality hit and Cohen suddenly realized that he had left Autumn in the car. As there were no cell phones then, he had no way of letting her know what’s going on. Thus, he felt obligated to decline the invitation.

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