Man, the “weariness” is starting to catch up with everyone. It seems that our assignments have kept us up later than we had hoped. Yesterday, we had our second acting class, which should have been the third one, but last Monday was Labor Day. It was fun. We had worked out lilttle scenes in groups to perform using different action verbs to create the scene. When you look at acting this way, it dawns on you how much of an art this is. Some people are just naturally really good at it. They engage you simply by acting human, and I think that is quite a concept.
I didn’t get to go because we ran out of time. Next week, I’ll get my shot. I have a lot of confidence on the little scene Matt and I have to perform. I want to say the dialogue is taken right out of Sex in the City, which I think our teacher enjoys. Some people in our class did REALLY well with their executions. Even though we might not all technically be actors, I think everyone inherently has a dramtic nerve they can hit if the right approach is given to them. Jonthan and Smitha did an awesome job. It wa s areally heavy scene, all simply by tweaking what verb you decided to use where. Such as, “Hey how come you didn’t tell me about the club?” can come across a million different ways just by assigning any number of verbs to it– “Plead, “Accuse,” “Mock,” “Patronize,” “Charm,” “Stalk,” or “Explode.” Say that line to yourself with a different one of those in mind. Kinda cool, right? The exercise wasn’t so much about what you were saying but what your tone and demeanor was saying. It’s incredibly fun when you hear it.
Beth and Chris did an awesome job too. I was on the other side of the room, so Beth was facing me and I was able to read her eyes. It was great. It dealt with a couple having some sort of trouble and their handling of the conversation was awesome.
Speaking of acting, the FSU film school holds an open casting call in the fall for anyone around town who wants to come audition and get put into our database for the year. We take your picture and get your contact info, then you go pick from a number of scripts based on your age and gender. I was in charge of taking pictures. Dude, this brought some RAISIN CAKES out of the woodwork, for real. I mean, in dealing with “actors,” you’re always going to have some pinwheels, but good LORD. Think Tobias x10, for all you Arrested Development fans.
Perhaps a student film I shall seek
Some thought they were brilliant, others were so self-concious that they ruined it from the get-go, and some I was surprised even knew how to tie their shoes. Lots of stage moms bringing kids as young as three. Lots of older people with probably a lot of free time, which is good, because casting people NOT IN THEIR 20’S is helpful in separated your film from a “student film.” We had a pretty basic little form they had to fill out on the computers while they were getting their pictures taken by me. Aside from the fact that they were Macs, people were taking like 20 minutes on something that should have taken five. I had one guy walk in and say, “I’ve never been online before, what do I do.” Well, sir, you don’t have to go online to do this. What he meant was that he had never ever used a computer. I know what you’re thinking, because I was thinking it, “He’s used it somewhere.” No, TURST ME…NO WHERE. This guy spent 30 minutes filling out this form. When I looked over and realized he wasn’t making much progress, I walked over to help. He had a pop-up window on the screen because he had clicked out of a field somewhere. So, this prompt was saying he needed to continue on the previous form and it had a glowing blue “OK” button to close it and keep going. I told him to click “OK,”…. he pressed the screen with his finger…. no lie. “Yeah, but Mike, how old was this guy? 50? 60?” Late 30’s MAYBE. I was really befuddled. How does even know how to use an ATM? I know this sounds mean, but WOW.
I did get a chance to sit in on 2 auditions. Both of them were older people, a man in his 70’s and a woman in her late 50’s/early 60’s. They were good. The dude had prepared monolgues and stuff. He was kind of kooky, for sure. I wished I could have been up there whole time! That was a blast because one person got to read the other part of the script with them. I love that process.
Sunday night came fast. I went upstairs to finish my weekend project and edit together the still frames I had shot and, of course, someone from another class was using my “assigned” computer. This is something that really makes me mad. The lab has 15 G5’s, all loaded with the exact same version of Final Cut Pro and they’re all linked to the same server. BUT, we’re not allowed to use any other computer but the one to which we’ve been assigned. I can’t even save my project on a flash drive and move it somewhere else even though there ARE TWELVE COMPUTERS NOT BEING USED. This is a really stupid rule, because, as roll of the dice would have it, I have people on my computer that want to use a lot of time outside of school. Instead, I spent half of the lecture on Monday editing my project. The editing part isn’t hard. I’ve been using Final Cut for 5 years. What’s hard is following the protocol they require everyone to use when they do a project. Each project has to be labeled the exact same way, saved in very specfic places, and then the projects are turned in a graded. These tiny little details add up to be extremely frustrating in an already rushed environment. I was done editing in no time, but following the printouts to correctly organize things, even though I didn’t use 90% of the folders labeled is arduous. I’ll stop ranting now.
My project turned out well. I think I did what Reb wanted in terms of having shots that told a story when cut together in a particular way. We’ll see how it goes when we watch it tomorrow.
Speaking of Reb, we had the strangest email encounter with him on Sunday night. We all send out questions and comments through the MFA email list, and we were all wondering where this week’s schedule was, we had never received one. We all made jokes about classes being canceled all week and going to Islands of Adventure, and then Reb emails us the schedule. It was like when the teacher walks in and you’re like WAY off task. I sent out an email, to Reb too, about how that was “sufficiently embarrassing,” and then Reb starts sending out existential emails, bating us to engage him in some sort of wordplay. Keep in mind this is the super-intimidating assistant dean of the film school I had my interview with. He’s obviously warmed up quite a bit. We had started by complimenting out classmate, Chris, on taking the intitiative to alphabatize a list of verbs we had. Then Track 1 started trying to make trade offers to take Chris away from us. This quickly escalated into Lord of the Rings quotes about “words being poison” and “You SHALL NOT PASS!” Anyway, NERDFEST 2008, I know, but then Reb emails us and starts trying to get involved. His emails consisted of things like:
“In the midst of darkness
All things seems worth expressing
In the presence of light we second guess
Which is real
Which is truth
Neither light nor shadow
Only a leap of faith
Lands us on firm ground”
Uhhhhhhh, what?! What leap of faith? So a lot of us jumped in and started making up poems, which ended up sounding a lot like LOTR again. This went on until about 1:00AM. The next morning, everyone started yelling at Chris, Matt, and me about hwo they woke up with THIRTY FIVE EMAILS. They were scared they missed something… and oh how they did.
We watched another interview with a screenwriter like the Paul Haggis one last week. This time, it was David S Goyer (Blade I-III, Batman Begins) and it was awesome.
Goyer-- caught in the act
He seems like a totally cool Dude. These little interviews are very informative and give you a strong sense of what day to day life is like in the industry. I decided to just stay at school and finish up all my writing assignments before I went home. This would save me from burning 45 minutes going home and screwing around before I got back to it. I felt like such a movie character, up late in the film school, lights out, TOILING AWAY on my laptop. How lame.
Today it seemed like everyone was dragging. Lots of people are sick (I’m totally better, btw). Producing this morning was lots o fun. We learned how to break down a script and input it into a scheduling program used in the industry called EP Scheduling. Pretty simple program, but really really helpful. It breaks everything down by scene, actors, props, fx, locations, etc. Quite a resource, especially for someone like me who is not detailed oriented… like me.
Dave and I made a ruckus because we kept laughing about stupid stuff, mainly the fact that he named his Production company “Falcon Talon.” That is the funniest crap ever. I found a link and started playing it as loud as a could. Check it out.
Then we laughed about that stupid SNL sketch where Will Farrell and Chris Kattan do a storytellers as “Air Supply” and they make up lyrics to that stupid “I’m All Out of Love” song. Heck, here’s the link:
OH! So we actually lit and SHOT something today in cinematography class. It was awesome. We had a dolly set up and everything. I think I’m starting to get this lighting thing down. Beth stayed behind and re-spooled the exposed film, she must have been a rock star at it because she was done in no time. Game Ball, Beth. Game Ball.
So, lastly, I’ll talk about our “Genres” class for a second. Obviously, this is the class where all the drama happens. Each week, a hand full of people are scheduled to start a topic on the class blog for everyone to discuss, MFA’s and BFA’s alike. I was one of the people this week. I wrote a blog on how it’s a bit difficult for me to break things down into political motivations, left wing or right wing. How, sometimes, movies are just as assembling of things meant for entertainment and a profit. Yes, ideas are funneled through the medium. Sure, but I was having trouble seeing the political motivations of some of the films we watched. Apparently a lot of people either agreed or disagreed with me and I had quite a thread of responses. Out teacher is a younger guy. Super nice. He just got his doctorate from USC in a film study of some kind. He types up a little slip of paper with a grade and a response to our blogs. WELL, mine was like 3/4 of a page, like 4x times longer than anyone elses. He handed it to me and said
“I went on a little bit of a rant, nothing personal, but just some thoughts.” I think I must have pissed him off. His grade slip said the following–
That my “depoliticizing stance on entertainment is more of a refusal than a reasoned argument. When you said ‘I don’t think motivations in the film are political at all, they are simply reflecting a mindset,’ I have to ask: is reflecting a mindset not political?…such statements seem to be rooted in dismissing the idea of probing of cultural/politcal dimension of these films; they are statements that seem designed to shut down debate by asserting that these films are just simply simple.”
Kiss Me Deadly-- overtly political
WOW, I KNOW, RIGHT? That was pretty much politely calling me an asshole. I really didn’t want to undermine his class or the cirriculum he decides to teach. I was simply stating that, based on the discussions in class, I didn’t see how every movie was somehow a political stance on a particular issue. Yes, we are influenced by everything around us, so of course films encompass an attitude or tone. But, I also feel that film is a scavenger’s art, one that assembles thoughts, moods, ideals, puns, characters, jokes, and whatever else trickles in to the making of a movie. It’s the most collaborative of art forms and the whole reason they exist is for…PROFIT. It’s a business. Yes, movies have messages, but in something like Film Noir and the movies from the 40’s and 50’s, our generation is so far removed from them, that I almost felt as though we were assigning meaning to things more than what the filmmakers even realized. That was all. I hope I didn’t offend him. But I’m certainly hanging up this piece of paper on my bulleton board. He gave me a B-, btw.
If you’re interested in reading some more of the post, then you can see it here on our class blog:
I’m sure I lost about 90% of you somewhere up top, but here’s to you all who finished. This is just as much a part of my film school journey as anything else. I feel things starting to ramp up and I’m becoming attracted to the things I have a knack for, ie, Writing, directing, and editing. We’ll see if this narrows. Hope all is well in your land. I guess I’ll try and catch up on some sleep since we got out of Genres really early tonight.