Day 5- I Don’t Know What I Been Told…

…Film school’s trying to steal my soul.

So yeah, orientation was today.  It lasted from 9-6.  I was able to make myself go to bed early last night because I still felt like crap.  I ended up waking up before my alarm went off at 7:45.  I got to the film building about 25 minutes early and discovered that many many students were already there.  Three of the Asian students were hanging out on a picnic table right outside.  I stopped off and spoke with them briefly.  As nervous as I was, they must have been terrified.  One even said he was.  They all spoke English well, so it’s not the language barrier, but just the fact that they are SO far away from home and are being thrust into such an intense program.  So…as much as I’m about to FREAK OUT below, they have all the more reason to.

We signed in, put on a pre-printed name tag, and then were lead into the larger sound stage with the Grad and Undergrad students alike.  FSU’s undergrad program is really impressive too, but even more so because they have access to things that most undergrad programs can’t even approach.  Their program is intense, for sure, and I don’t even know how they’re going to juggle normal classes along with all the film classes and weekends projects they’re required to do.  I will say they were noticeably spunkier than we MFA’s were.  Maybe it was because they all knew each other, or maybe because some still had teenage vigor, but some of them would NOT SHUT UP the entire day.  They had a catty comment for everything.  It was a punchline competition.  

From 9-12, we listened to a basic presentation from the Dean and Assistant Dean of the school.  They explained that the goal of the film school is to hone in your skills, your craft so to speak, and become proficient in the art of filmmaking through a conservatory style environment.  We learned FSU’s facts, values, and the overall expectations for you, as a pupil… and how expensive the equipment was and how we were responsible for a $500 deductible on anything we broke….freaking yikes.

Lunch lasted a little less than 2 hours (On the Border catered).  Some second year MFA’s came down and joined us.  I was able to meet some of the entering MFA’s that I hadn’t met two nights ago at the little get to know you dinner.  A few of us spoke with the set design/soundstage teacher.  He was really nice, very informative.  Every one of the teachers seemed to really enjoy their jobs.  When they introduced the faculty, it was apparent that these people knew what they were doing.  Some people had been in the industry a long time.

After lunch, we were divided into groups of ten- 5 MFA’s, 5 BFA’s.  We toured with six different teachers for 30 minutes a piece.  A new friend of mine, Jonathan, was in my group.  We found the experience to have the same effect on us: a day of up’s and down’s.  Depending on who what teaching was explaining their area, you either felt confident or even more stressed about just how hard this program was.  Checking out equipment with a sheet, no problem.  Staying up for 36 hours straight and doing sound effects in the foley pit, SCARY.  Learning how to shoot super 16mm film on the $45k Arriflex camera, awesome.  Choosing to Organize a set build with nothing but student volunteers and finding your own tools because they aren’t provided, scary.  Auditioning actors, intimidating but not bad.  Flipping the graduate box truck loaded with equipment THREE TIMES because you swerved to avoid a squirrel end ended up working for a year and half to pay back the $17,000 in damages you caused (because this really happened to someone)… TERRIFYING.

I’ve driven a box truck, that actually doesn’t scare me.  What seems daunting to me is the shear amount of work you’re expected to complete.  This semester alone, we have six weeks of class (which is 9AM-10PM daily, btw), 6-7 weeks of production, and then 6-7 weeks of post-production.  During this time, there is reading, multiple weekend projects, labs, etc etc etc.  

The professors are going on a retreat for the next two days to finalize their classes and schedules.  The schedules is like a living, breathing, monster of a matrix.  It’s posted every week and usually updated the second the first draft comes out.  It’s the end all and be all of your existence.  On one hand, it’s nice to have all those things sorted out for you, so you never have to wait on equipment or just even hope you get equipment like many other film schools, but on the other hand, it’s demoralizing to see your life completely caged-in in black and white for a week at a time.  Two classes in the morning, lunch, two in the afternoon, workshops and such in the evening.  It’s just absolute insanity. 

I know I sound like a total whiner, I know that.  And what everyone is thinking is, “Well, Mike, it’s not like it’s chemistry, you’re doing something you love.”  Well yes, I do think this is going to be awesome.  But it is a little unnerving to have this much of a workload thrown at you.  I worry that I’ll not push myself to really try something big because I’m simply worried about just getting it done.  They warned us about setting up tricky camera shots, or building big sets, or having an FX-driven sequence.  All that stuff takes time, time you might not have.  I just wouldn’t want to disappoint myself by not taking a risk because I’m scared shitless I’m not going to have enough time to finish everything.

On top of that, they said in no uncertain terms, you belong to them.  You’re on-call 24 hours a day.  You might have a gap in  scheduling, but that certainly doesn’t mean you should plan anything bigger than just going to the gym. No weekend trips, no extracurricular activities, no quick weekends home.  Nothing.  you get Thanksgiving, 3 weeks at Christmas, No spring break, 1 week between spring and summer, and 3 weeks between summer and fall.  So yes, I consider that daunting.  

I’m sure I’ll find a groove.  I’m sure 2 years will fly by with how busy I am.  I think the weight of this decision just dawns on me more and more each day.  I do, however, feel I’m here for a reason.  This door was opened to me and I’m going to take advantage of such an awesome program.  Plus, when we toured the graduate offices today, I already a had a mailbox labeled for me.  There is no way I can pass that up.

BTW, what’s up with this JC Penny commercial spoofing The Breakfast Club with the chick wearing a Nirvana shirt?  

A) there is no way a girl that age even knows who Kurt Cobain is, nor could she even Guitar-Hero her way through “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”  

B) Who signed over the rights to mass produce a Nirvana smiley face shirt that was popular 15 years ago at JC Penny?  I certainly know it wasn’t Dave Grohl.  

I’m so tired by this whole concept of “rockstar” being a fashion statement.  Nylon bracelets and a cub scouts shirt don’t make you a rockstar.

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3 Responses to “Day 5- I Don’t Know What I Been Told…”

  1. Kate Emery Says:

    9-10 during the week is a pretty crazy schedule. But maybe we won’t have to worry about doing homework on weeknights. Eh?

  2. don’t get me started on that commercial. i find the kohl’s “denim – inspired by them, worn by you” commercials to be much easier to swallow, of course, i may be bias.

  3. Grate article this site is best knowledge about on internet.

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