Friday, April 29, 2005

What In...?

This blog is supposedly about film school, so maybe I should talk a little more about movie stuff, instead of just shooting the shit about what went down at the Smog Cutter the other night.

The school of Cinema-Television runs these events that entail watching a movie and then having a Q and A with the person who made the movie. I've gone to a grand total of two of these events, simply because I haven't had the time. Or I've been shooting. I made Jordan miss Werner Herzog a couple months back cause we were shooting, but I made it up to him by scheduling around the Superbowl.

Anyway, point is: saw Tarnation last night. I hadn't seen it before (again, I don't watch movies because I'm too busy making movies--see anything drastically wrong with this picture? (and I mean that in all possible senses)). Hot damn that's a fine piece of work. First up, the footage is incredible, not because it captures pivotal moments, but because there is such an everyday-ness about it. And second, the editing is great, because it still manages to tell this story that's all about pivotal moments and what direction a life takes because of them.

I'd like to see it again when I'm not sitting in the front row, but that's the only way to watch a movie in Lucas 108 and not get bruises on your kneecaps. And there was even a handy chair in front of me that I could pull up and rest my legs on. Did I feel like a jackass when, after the screening, I realized the chair was for the filmmaker to sit on during the Q and A? Yes, yes I did.

Luckily, Jonathon Caouette seems like the kind of guy who wouldn't care that much if you put your feet on his chair. He was very sweet and shy, and kept looking at the floor, and possibly at my shoe? Tarnation is the kind of movie that, after the credits roll, you wish you could talk to the people that made it, so it was surreal that he was there to talk to. Hearing him talk brought a whole new dimension to the meaning of the film. It also made filmmaking feel as personal and as easily accessible and as weird and specific as, i dunno, making a zine or being in a band. Like filmmaking is something you can do randomly in your spare time and it can be as crazy as you are, as long as you put love into it.

At what point is extremely personal specificity no longer interesting to a good percentage of the populace?

Confidential to JB: at least 93 Avid stations and 99 16mm Arriflexs, can't find mention of 35mm cameras, but USC does have its own telecine, which I should have mentioned to the Air Canada agent this January who said, huffily, that there is a perfectly good film school in Vancouver.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

The Dregs

So I'm heading northward in the next fortnight. For those of you who follow these things with glee, I really don't say fortnight as part of my everyday speech. Nor do other Canadians I know. Unless they are the madly anglophilic kind of Canadian or they read too many Enid Blyton books.

Anyway, departure looms, which means moving, which is quite honestly dead last on the list of things I would like to be doing right now, getting all my other work done being on the top of that list and kicking back and having some fun for once being a close second.

But this also leads to the moving food problem. I've been scaling down the food that I keep in the house over the last month or so and am left with the weirdest combinations of things, which occasionally lead to bizarre meals. For dinner last night, I poached an egg in the microwave and made some toast and ate it with some edamame. I'm out of juice, but I have lots of flour. Lots of rolled oats and brown sugar (so have been eating oatmeal for breakfast and dinner a lot) and have whole bag of spinach to get through. No butter but a whole container of sprouts.

Also, I guess in theory I should be moved out of here by Saturday, even though I'm not leaving town until the 11th. I'm still clinging to the hope that someone will sublet this place, though, in which case I could conceivably hang around here a little longer. Whatever, I just have to bite the bullet and call my landlady.

They say moving is the second most stressful thing to fill your time with other than death of a loved one or divorce, but whoever made that list doesn't go to film school.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Here's Looking At The Japanese Plum Tree In My Old Backyard

So you're all web-savvy, right? You've heard the news about, right? How it's all better than Mapquest and whatnot?

And I'm sure you knew about the satellite toggle button, right? Wherein you can look up an address, hit "satellite" and see a, well, satellite image of the spot. Like, your childhood home, or your friend's apartment in Manhatten, or your first apartment or your first dorm room or your elementary school or your parents' house or your old workplace or the track where you like to run?

You've all already found this and wasted a good hour playing around on it, right?

Just checking.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Soooo Meta

An exciting moment for my blog: it got blogged about!

Saturday, April 23, 2005

It's Actually An Homage to Charlton Heston

So blogs are the new media, right? In which case I got press for my 508 film. This guy is apparently also a USC grad film student, but I haven't met him.

His backhanded compliments are very amusing, as is the use of the word "lady" and question of whether or not I have balls (surely he couldn't mean literally?).

It's number four. Enjoy.

(Last term, I had someone else tell me I had balls. I think that while the theme of my undergrad was to overhear myself described as "that girl" by people in my english classes, the theme of this degree will be to provoke people into telling me I have balls.)

Fetch The Smelling Salts

Right, I know telling people about your dreams is obnoxious, but yesterday I had the flu and had fever dreams and they weren't all that crazy but I fully and completely believed they were real, because even when I was awake I felt like I was dreaming.

So in my fever dream, my neighbour, Mrs. Rodriguez, sat on the edge of my bed with medication for me to take and I was overcome with happiness that someone motherly had come to take care of me in my hour of head-spinning need and she had little glossy red pills but they kept sliding off the cutting board, which was on my lap, and getting lost in the bedding and I was slightly embarrased that she was there, because I hardly know her, but she was being very kind and then I fell asleep again before I could get the little red pills in my mouth and I when I woke up again I realized that she had pinned each pill individually to my blanket with bent wire so that I wouldn't lose them.

There were others, but I will you spare you, dear reader, from them.

But yesterday was a weird day and my head hurt a lot and I slept for 31 or 32 out of 36 hours, which should make up for the all-nighter I pulled on Tuesday (Wednesday).

Today I felt much better and put air in my bike tires, which suddenly made it much easier to pedal, and a much bumpier ride.

Oh, and today I found out that I'm producing an intermediate graduate film in the fall. When I'm not so swamped with the work of this term, I'll feel excited about it. It being, yes, the mad amounts of work I'll have next term. And also the mirrored sunglasses, powersuit and smoking habit (and possibly the flippy kind of cell phone?) that TJ points out I now need to acquire.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Cure What Ails You

I once wrote a poem with this title for Ms. Gillian Gausboel.

Dear Janey and Doretta, thank you for teaching me how to make lemon-ginger-honey brew. My throat is on fiy-ah, but this hot sludge helps. When I'm back in town you'll have to teach me how to make congee.

I have always really liked the idea of offical mourning, particularly as represented in dress. Most particularly, the black armband. Mourning is such a strange sensation. When I'm doing it, I feel like the world should stop for a moment and acknowledge that something is gone from the world and it's a different place now. I feel like wearing some sort of sign around my neck? A sandwich board, perchance? I also like the idea the there is a mourning period, which, unless you are Queen Victoria, has a set time span of un-alright-ness that then turns into alright-ness.

It's not so much that I have faith in the remedies, but that I have faith in the faith in the remedies. Or: the value of ceremony.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

University of Spoiled Children

Tonight, around midnight at the editing lab, the giddy madness this term has disintegrated into manifested itself in laughing at Alex and Mo's Crispin Glover-like actor and a fellow student who goes by the name "Showbiz" showing up wasted, wandering around saying extreme things and passing out at Avid number three.

It was all a bit much, so Davon, Mo and I retired to the loading dock where we drank Coor's Light in the backseat of Alex's car and discussed Justin Timberlake.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Born Under Punches

I got home last night and the neighbourhood looked so trashy. Broken safety glass all over the street and garbage and dead palm tree fronds flattened in the middle of the road and folks smoking outside their front gates. I mean, after dark, the place usually becomes more ghetto than it is by day, but last night was off the hook. It's like seeing a fairly slutty aquaintance wear something incredibly slutty. Surprising that she really had it in her, dismay, and a little titilation on the side.

Tonight my very great writing teacher chatted about "the biz", not just sharing the story of his friend who lived in someone's bathtub while writing a brilliant screenplay, but also giving us the Reality Begins Here speech.

(The phrase "Reality Ends Here" is the motto or something of USC Cinema-Television. It was grafitti from back in the day that is now inscribed in the cement at the doorways of various USC film buildings, including Marcia Lucas Post and the Zemeckis Center for Digital Arts. It's true in both the sense of "welcome to the world of making movies" and in the possibly unintended sense of "welcome to mistakenly believing that the kind of stuff you are doing here as a student will be the same kind of thing you will be able to do in the real world as a professional".)

We get the Reality Begins Here speech every few months. It follows this major theme: your chance of being a feature film director is as good as being struck by lightening, twice. We all know this, it's simple math, not to mention the math of how many students get pumped through USC. And hey, let's not discount the math of how many female feature film directors they are.

But it's really not the best time to be hearing it. Every day, these days, is a gaunlet to be run. The basic things you think would be necessary to daily life have been sacked in this hundred mile sprint to the finish line. Grooming, nutrition, sleep. I have to make an active decision to make sleeping a priority; it'd be too easy to make that dismissable luxury and the fall down dead in the middle of a shot, proving that "you can sleep when you're dead" can be more true than you ever thought possible and simultaneously exposing the film to unacceptable light leak through the eyepiece and ruining the shot.

Monday, April 04, 2005

The Doretta Fan Club

Is there an actual club? I mean, is it, like, formal? Can I charter one? Can I be the first member and also the treasurer?

Dorrie's gonna fly to LA and drive up to Vancouver with me. She promises to change the CD and chat with me during the 24-hour (not in a row) driving odessy. Previous road trips with Doretta have apparently involved ridiculous and spectacular accidents (what was it? Minivan ended up perched atop a giant errant tire in the middle an NY freeway?) but for our roadtrip, the only accident will be accidentally eating too much ice cream.

Yay! D: bring a pen and I'll bring a notepad and together let's write an epic poem about dinosaurs on the way up, okay? We can rip off Milton like crazy! Weeee!

Sunday, April 03, 2005

In The Hat

Thing One:

I went to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences library on Friday. It was, as Adrian Mole might say, "dead exciting". The Academy building has some nice greenery around it, which is appreciated in this dirty town. The building itself has some very fancy wrought iron work and giant doors, but for all that, isn't actually that big. Inside, donor plaques of people you know cover the walls.

The process of actually getting into the library involves filling out a form, locking your stuff, except for paper, in a locker, giving over your ID, and telling the woman behind the counter three times that it's a MECHANICAL PENCIL you're packing and not a forbidden pen.

The library itself is small, even though it is, as the man at the special collections desk mentioned, the best collection of cinema whatnot in the world. (Or not...?)

I looked at some microfiche (which always makes me feel like I'm in a movie) and some production stills (for which I was made to wear white gloves that were ridiculously small). Good times. The library was nice and quiet and had lots of staff, which I always appreciate. Also, sometimes I'd look up from what I was reading and notice a clutter of Oscars on a shelf in a cabinet.

Thing Two:

We shot 200 feet of the brilliant film "The Ballad of the Deadly Nevergreen" yesterday. I have the bug bites to prove it. Holy shit, DPing is so much more fun than directing. Getting someone else to decide on the action and the angle and then setting it up to make it look pretty is great. It's not that I don't like directing, more that DPing is considerably less taxing work and therefore less stressful. Especially compared to, say, directing and acting in your own movie. Not that that isn't brilliant too though, cause personally, I think it's so whack that it can't help but be brilliant.

Because we were shooting in the bright sun, I got Jordan to get me an eyepatch. Yeah, that's right, a fucking eyepatch. It's more than a little ridiculous, or as Brooke put it, "obnoxious", but even she had to agree that putting it over the eye not up to the eyepiece made a considerable difference in being able to relax your face enough to get a decent image.

The good news is that I put enough sunscreen on to not get an eyepatch tan. That would have taken the ridiculousness further than I am personally willing to go.