Reitman delivered DePauw's Ubben Lecture Monday and encouraged the mass of people in attendance with his lecture "Finding Your Place 'Up in the Air'".
Shortly after he took the stage he asked, "How many of you are film students in one way ... two -- I'm speaking to my audience," which was met with a loud applause. He then jokingly asked, "Have any of you see any of my movies?" After some more brief applause he followed it up with, "I feel so at home."
Reitman, clad in dark clothes and a knit cap that covered his newly trimmed hair, took to the stage and told the crowd of his upbringing, his trials and triumphs in the business and how important it is to find one's own voice.
He illustrated the fact by telling the crowd about a conversation he and his father, Ivan Reitman "Ghostbusters", "Stripes", "Kindergarten Cop", had that led to him enrolling at the University of Southern California.
"So my father told me this story, and he said, 'Look, being a doctor is one of the most noble jobs in the world. If you became a doctor, your mother and I, we'd be over the moon we'd be so proud of you. But I don't think there's enough magic in it for you. I think you're a storyteller. I think you have to follow your heart.' And it's off of that advice that I moved back to Los Angeles and I enrolled at USC and I became an English major," Reitman said.
More impressive is the fact that Reitman was able to talk his way into the university a mere three days before the semester was to begin.
He also spoke about how his first film endeavor was more Quentin Tarantino than himself, but acknowledged that seems to be a necessary step and process most creative people must take before they are able to find their own voice.
"And that's what we do when we first start doing any form of art -- the first time we try writing a story, the first time we try painting a picture, the first time we take a photo -- we try to be someone that we love, we try to be someone that we want to emulate." Reitman commented. "You end up fighting your own voice. You have a natural way you want to say something, but you figure it's not literary enough or it's not cinematic enough or that's not what it's supposed to be. It's supposed to be more than that guy."
A thing that sets Reitman apart from many of his fellow filmmakers is his accessibility and willingness to talk in depth about the process of filmmaking -- both the negatives and the positives -- without any pretense.
He talked about how directing is a culmination of multiple seemingly tiny decisions and how it all adds up to a feature film.
"Directing is a job where you really figure out who you are by making mistakes," Reitman told his DePauw audience. "If I can break directing down into kind of what the gig is, you basically make 100 decisions a day -- binary decisions: the red one or the blue one, yes or no, faster or slower, louder or softer -- and that's kind of it," Reitman said. "You rarely make giant decisions; you are actually making tons of little decisions. And it's the culmination of those decisions which will either produce a feeling or not."
Later on he worked through the progressions of his film, explaining that when he began directing, he was 'right maybe 50 percent of the time' and described how that percentage grew, he found himself more on the mark. He also spoke about what he hopes to accomplish with the finished product.
"I want to move the audience and there's ways I want the audience to feel at certain moments," he said. "Generally though, I'm looking to answer a question that I already had. Each movie of mine has been based on a question that has been burning away at me and usually is a question that I just can't articulate an answer for."
After a young man came to the mic during the question and answer portion of the lecture to inquire when someone should basically call it a career in aspiring to be a filmmaker, Reitman was straight to the point and honest.
"Whatever you attempt in life, particularly in art, one of three things is going happen to you," he said. "Either you have talent and people will recognize it, and that'd be wonderful; you have talent and people don't recognize it, and that would be heartbreaking; or you don't have talent and people will recognize it.
"My advice is to find something that you have talent at that you also love to do. And it may not be the thing that you think you're supposed to do right now. But that's what this moment is about," Reitman commented.
The moment of the night might have been when Reitman gave the people of Greencastle and DePauw University a wonderful compliment for their hospitality and then uttered a sentence that brought the crowd alive with pride.
"I've met nothing but lovely people today and now I'm looking forward to a garlic cheeseburger that's awaiting me," said Reitman to loud applause. "Awaiting me in a way that when people describe it I'm scared of it. They're like, 'Get the garlic cheeseburger and the cheese fries -- 'No, not the cheese fries, it's his first time he won't be able to take it. He's only human,'" Reitman said with a laugh.
Not long after the lecture ended, Reitman posted a picture of his GCB on his Twitter account.
Earlier in the day, Reitman's acknowledged that his next project should be an adaptation of Joyce Maynard book 'Labor Day'.