Search This Blog

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Why Scorsese Has Nothing to Worry About

I'm not sure if I mentioned this in one of my earlier blogs, but this semester, I decided to repack my backpack and head back to university again. This time, I'm tackling filmmaking. Yes, dear readers, that is right, I'm trying to learn how to direct. It's been a couple months now since I've been taking this class, so let me give you a brief summary of my progress: I suck.

No, no, I'm not fishing for compliments, really, I'm telling the truth. I'm trying, though, I really am, but I'm not exactly excelling like I pictured myself doing.

Before I started this class, I would daydream about being in the director's chair, wearing a beret and really cool black rimmed glasses that made me look very director-y (of course, I am always 10 pounds thinner in these dreams). I yell, 'Action,' like a pro and, 'Cut,' like I know exactly what I'm doing. I look through the camera lens and see a whole new world, and I understand what things like a clapper, shot list and color saturation mean. I do that thing with my index fingers and thumbs and know how to perfectly frame a scene. Yeah, I am so awesome... in my dreams.

Reality, however, is a completely different matter. The other day, we had to submit our first test scenes, which is basically one scene from our movie. Thanks to the help of my amazing classmates, Camera Man and Ms. Mare, my scene moved up from messy diarrhea level to solid crap. During the shoot, I didn't say action once - how did I miss that? - but did manage a few 'Cuts' at the prompting of CM, who God bless his soul, kept trying to remind me to, you know, direct.

Anyhoo, after the shoot, it was time to edit, but of course I couldn't figure out how to use any of the advanced programs. I think if you stuck me in front of a control station at NASA, I'd have a better chance of launching a rocket to the moon. So, I used a basic program that proper filmmakers would be aghast to resort to and  butchered my scene even further. Ms. Mare, who I have since canonized the Patron Saint of Filmmaking (even though I am not Catholic and have no connection to the Pope, although I did go to the Vatican once) spent about four hours with me re-editing the whole thing so I wouldn't completely humiliate myself in front of the class.

Then presentation day came, dah dah dahhhhhhhh (the theme music from The Shining should be playing in your heads right now). As the instructor took the DVD from me to play on the giant projector in the class, I never wanted to be an ostrich so badly, just so I could bury my head in the ground (it is the ostrich that does that, right?). So the scene played, finally it was over, the lights were switched back on, the instructor went back to his desk, sat down and looked right at me.

Instructor: Why was your scene such s____?
Me (removes knife from wound): Um, uh...
Instructor: This is TV calibre, no good for film!
Me (in my head): Hmmmm, I can live with TV. Soap operas aren't so bad. Maybe they could use me at Grey's Anatomy?
Instructor: What is more important than your film?
Me (in my head): Fitting in a manicure appointment sometime this week, because I haven't been able to get one in weeks, prepping for this scene that you just said was complete crap.
Instructor: There is nothing, NOTHING, more important than your film.
Me, sigh, (in my head): Goodbye manicure.

Of course, he was 100% right in everything he said about my scene. But, you know, it still stings to hear it... out loud... in front of other people. So when my turn was done, I was relieved, I thought, okay, my humiliation is over for now. But no. During the shoot of a classmate of mine, one of her actresses didn't show up so she asked me to fill in despite my protestations. After the teacher saw her scene, he turned to me and asked, "Who were you supposed to be? The mother?"

THE MOTHER??? THE MOTHER??? Okay, I know I'm older than these kids, but THE FREAKING MOTHER? I was like, 'No, I'm supposed to be the sister.' SISTER! As in person not possibly old enough to have given birth to a 20 year old! (Knife stuck back in wound.)

And that is still not the end of my tale of woe. Then we had to learn about casting. This was done by placing everyone of us in front of a camcorder, and then replaying our recording on the projector screen in mute, so attention would only be paid to our faces and bodies.

So, my turn comes up and there I am, face plastered on the big screen. Just as I was feeling not so awkward about being in class with 20 year olds; just as I was thinking that even though I'm older than these kids, it doesn't feel like there's such an age difference when we talk movies; just as I was enjoying working with them on different shoots and feeling like one of the guys THAT had to happen. Extreme close up Anissa: wrinkles crinkle around her eyes as she makes really odd facial expressions. Then I hear, "No, no, see, look," from the instructor, as my giant head bobbed around on the screen, "she can never be an actress!"

(Knife... wound... so deep! FADE OUT)