I’m having one of these days – feels like every day is like that at the moment. And it is wonderful. Things are happening so fast with One More Day. I feel blessed and energized. What have I done with Jean? Am I on drugs? Who knows, and no.
Archive for the ‘film school’ Category
The hardest experience I’ve had since coming to college, about 10 years older than the average MFA candidate I study with, is dealing with the things they say about people over 30. “If I don’t know what I want to do with my life by then… If I’m not married by then… If I don’t have kids by 28… [I'd feel like a failure].” I once, as Key Production Designer on a set, had to take a break to go cry in a bathroom after hearing one of those chats at the DIT station. Granted, I was premensing a tad…
But imagine what it’s like when you’re 80, and all the things about old people have already come true, for you?
I’m making a thesis film (that’s the final short … -ish, in this case, 25 minute) film we make at Chapman. All my key roles are for people over 75 – or at least who can play that age.
I freaked out. My grandmas both passed before I met them properly, although my Mom’s mom, Barbara, was a fierce old lady who would match any game I played with hers. My Dad’s mom I barely met – I know of her mostly through the strange, sentimental stories of my Dad’s Dad. I remember the day she died and my mom taking my brother and I into our room so he could cry. I feel like they’d both have lasted a lot longer if women had careers in their day. My grandpas were around in another town, thousands of miles away, so I didn’t spend much time, although they were both a force in my growth as a writer.
My parents, who are over 65, are still running around like crazy chickens and are my inspiration for my story.
Where would I learn about really old people?
So I started volunteering at the Orange Senior Center – which is a meeting place for seniors (over 65) from Orange – not an old age home, as many assume. I found that old people DUH vary as much as anybody else. Take Wella, who strictly taught me how to serve salad in the kitchen. Anna, who could dance me off my feet.
Today my Assistant Director (if she doesn’t get a real job in time) gave me the best advice ever:
“Don’t treat them like old people. Just make sure they can walk when you audition them.”
This is especially true of actors. One is going hiking in italy for two weeks soon. The other is writing a script. The other is about to star in a play where they have to be on their feet, with an hour of lines memorized… nevermind a few names. They’re all passionate, all working, till the day they day. One amazing actress said “I hope I die on stage, or on set!” And I was like… “Just not on mine!” And we laughed.
I guess that old liberal truism – stereotypes are bullshit – is always true.
YEAH I’m using pretentious punctuation. I had one of those days where you imagine a life, with someone, and it seems perfect. Hell, it was perfect. Here’s what happened.
He went for a job interview and I wandered around a shitty area. Beverly Hills ubertown, where it’s totally fine to treat people like shit if you’re rich and famous. Not accustomed to normal hours, I found a 2 hour parking spot to sleep in. When he was done with the interview he understood how I felt about THIS.
The films were amazing. Find them. Watch them.And also, I couldn’t help wondering how my life might be if I lived with him and we went there. If we just went there a few times a week.
Joshua Tree isn’t my favourite U2 album. Boy is. But it has a song on it that means as much to me in my thirties as it did when I was a teenager. It’s like the Teen International Anthem (and just as cheesy.)
I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For. When I thought I had, I always turned out to be wrong. So now I assume I haven’t and, when I remember, I keep looking.
The danger of film school is, well… film school. You get so obsessed with making films that you forget that you need to keep experiencing life, keeping your eyes fresh, so that you can make films worth watching. At least that’s the theory – I may have just been skiving off from writing my thesis feature screenplay when I signed up for this day hike. And I don’t know yet whether any of the images I absorbed or stories I imagined will come to anything. But here, for the record, are a few of them.
That’s not the only new thing. I saw my first blue jay (the bird) and my first chipmunk. I thought chipmunks were a made-up animal. Turns out they’re little grey things.
Anyhow. Against all odds, I wound up in Joshua Tree – a place I never thought I’d visit.
And along the way, another story.
I wonder if this is the secret of great artists – continuing the exploration and the journey. Now all I need is the great art to go with it right?
People here in the USA just see Iran as this Bogeyman. Remember, when you argue that Israel is right to want to initiate war, that this is what you are bombing. A place with real people in it. With beautiful people in it. It’s not right to say “it’s worth it” as if the value of 10 people killed could be weighed against the value of a theoretical 200 saved. I have never been so recently sickened as I was when someone I thought of as a friend argued that the USA, in the greater scheme of things, saved lives by nuking Japan. Highly unlikely that this is true.
I’m not a fan of any kind of fundamentalism, Muslim, Christian, Jewish, or Atheist or anythingist. I don’t believe in stoning a Woman to death because the Bible, Q’oran or Bahagava’d G’ita says to do it. I would never kill people. NEVER. This is because, unlike most people, I’m not some kind of selective psychopath who believes war is necessary, and that killing is noble because of some theoretical life saved.
I’m no fan of Iran’s policies towards women, or even the rest of the world. I don’t think Iranian people will change their minds about your political opinions because you bomb them though.
That’s not how it works.
I’ve waited a long time to write this blog, because, well, because I’ve always known I was too angry to write it safely in the past. Now, I feel I’m ready because I’ve recently risen above what would have been some of my old-school knee-jerk responses to the bitches in question. The Bitches? But aren’t I a feminist? Sure I am. That’s exactly why I make a special case for certain girls: a special case for casting them out of my professional circle of trust, forever.
There’s a certain type of woman I’ve had the misfortune to work with a few times. They remind me of this world traveler type, a mutual friend of my Mom and my Dad’s, who stayed in our house once when we were away. We came back from holiday, exhausted after hitch hiking for two days, to find our home a complete mess. My mother took it up with her. I was in the room as they shouted at each other, each giving as good as they got. Both crazy women, screaming. Nasty stuff. Then… my dad walked in. This woman instantly turned on the waterworks, acting like my Mom had attacked her cruelly. Next thing? My dad was comforting the bitch – even though he was just as angry with her when we first arrived. My mother stood there, flabbergasted, staring.
I’ve had numerous colleagues like this. They generally sucked up to the male boss to get the job, then sucked up to him to keep it. They tended to ignore the women in meetings and flirt like mad with the guys. Call them on it? I tried a few times. They cried a few times. Guess who got burned? These are intelligent women. I got burned. I got burned, bad.
Lately I’ve had to deal with it at film school with one person, who only works cooperatively with male directors, and who flirts with the professors. She sat next to one professor all semester (a particularly insecure and egotistical little overgrown boy of a man) and actually played with his hair, during classes. I bet she got an A. She boasted to me about how she was a another professor’s “favorite” to me in an almost threatening manner after causing huge trouble for me on both occasions we worked together. Who knows what effect that had. Another person she worked with, who used to be friendly, doesn’t smile at me anymore. And you should hear what she told me about what he said about other people on his crew. It’s not like he should be trusting her!
I thought perhaps I was angrily imagining just what I wanted to see. Then She came into a class recently and told the professor “You are my favourite professor. You are the best ever.” You should have seen him smile. They still exchange little flirty comments in every class. She expresses her cute, helpless confusion every now and then, earning a loving chuckle from him. She’s pretty. She’s clever. She’s talented.
And she’s lazy.
Don’t get me wrong, the men who play this game are just as pathetic and just as much to blame – not less so because with no exceptions, they’re the source of the problem. These girls are all, in my experience, wealthy daughters of powerful fathers who were busy a lot of the time, earning money. Instead of being real fathers, they just gave their daughters whatever they asked for. You can tell these girls grew up with servants, with pocket money, and with the knowledge that they’d never want for cash. They are either designer hippies or brand whores. They waltz right in and buy the exact car they want, brand new. When you tell them they can’t have what they want right now, they give you a look that says “If you tried that where I’m from… my Daddy would kill you.” And he would. Every time the little darling cried, she got just what she wanted. And every time she cries, she still does.
The less cute girls, or the girls with morals, or the girls who pay their own way? Well, we don’t have to rely on the sympathy of men to get our work done. Of course, our success doesn’t flatter these insecure men, because they didn’t give it to us. They are so insecure that they like the ass-lickers more. And so they ask us to befriend the backstabbing chicks. And they accuse us of “jealousy” if we don’t girl it up with them. Jealous? Seriously, I fail to see what we should be envying here. These girls are are pathetic. Their actions degrade our professional ethics. They’re playing the stereotype we are longing to escape. They turn our stomachs. They roll our eyes. They insult us to the core.
We shouldn’t have to put up with and hire the kind of insufferable little brown-nosers who make a joke of feminism, of hard work, and of pride. We shouldn’t have to respect the men whose egos perpetuate this bullshit. But sadly, we do have to. Because the men who buy their crap are still our bosses.
…and I’m done for now.
We made a movie. Another short movie. A whole bunch of people exist who didn’t exist before. It makes me feel like a god. A small flawed god, but a god.
Birthday Girl is an ensemble cast comedy about how every person has an inner brat just waiting to come out, for our own reasons. And that’s why I haven’t blogged in a while. I’ve been OBSESSED. And at last it’s a wrap.
Despite a crazy schedule, five kids on set one day, lots of learning on legalities and cake flying around, it was a great set, thanks in no small part to Carol, our host, who was also the best caterer ever. So hiring her again! Also my amazing A.D. Alyxandra Press, who kept her cool despite the set turning into a virtual swimming pool in summer, and Max, my tempestuous and passionate D.P. The Amazing Amy Shirly did us proud on the production design and set dressing front. I was so happy to have Dan Risk (from Indio, CA) as Gaffer, Nate Lertpreechapakdee (from Formaldehyde) as Key Grip and Jules Paholio (from my future) as 1st AC. I love cines. Special mention also to assistant producer Mady Muy, who did an amazing job as UPM and kept the set a happy place, and to Danni Zhao, who produced.
It’s over to my editor Paul Danforth and Sound Designer and recorder Sherry Xie now.