Archive for October, 2010

Why do actors make such great waiters?

October 29, 2010

No, it’s not a joke. Although being able to tell a joke is useful in a restaurant as well as to actors. Nothing like a joke when you’re just about to swallow, as the producer said to the starlet…

Okay, and I promise that the tone of this blog is going to rise above that joke. It can only rise, can’t it?

On set of Wilt. Take something or other. About midnight, maybe 1am, Thursday. Jennifer, who had two mid-terms to write the next morning, didn't complain once, rocked up on set 12 hours later, still smiling.

Tonight, while sitting around on set waiting for the five people apart from the producer who actually had something to do to come out of the room they’d locked themselves in so the rest of us could have our 9pm lunch, I realized that acting – or working on a student film set at least – requires almost all the same skills and involves all the same perks as waitressing – except getting paid, naturally.

SKILZ

Waiting around for hours
Even when you are not actually needed. You are not waiting for anything. You are just waiting. Please try to look important, so that you can match the way other people who do have something to do are currently feeling.

Being nice to people.
Nobody wants bitches on set. There will always be at least one bitch on set, but that’s the AD’s job, so you can’t hold it against them.

Wearing a lot of make up.
If you’re an actor, it’s your job. If you’re crew, it’s either because you got bored and let the makeup guy experiment on you, fell asleep and let the the makeup guy experiment on you, or are vain.

Stroking the egos of those wealthy emperors with no clothes.
This may be the irate next door neighbor of the house you’re borrowing, or the DP, or the crew member who is sulking because they don’t have anything to do. A little comment such as “great work” is the on-set equivalent of “great choice” in a restaurant. It’s a lie, but it’s going to pay off in the long term.

Carrying stuff around without dropping it.
Noise and breakages cost money in both a restaurant and on set. I lack skills in the nimbletude department, so I try to avoid jobs that involve being nimble and instead I spend my time tidying away cords and clearing debris. Not to be a martyr, but so that I don’t trip over them myself, ruin a shot and become the fuckwit everyone gossips about for two years.

PERKZ

Meeting a lot of people.
What I’ve enjoyed most the last few days has probably been people watching. People watching at their most stressed. Also the random bursts of ideas generated on-set. Tonight, talking to a cinematographer, I realised how to solve a script problem I’ve been butting my head against for days. I chatted to an 18-year-old actress who I know will be a huge star one day. Yes, the one in the pictures.

Eating staff meals and drinking free soda.
Don’t knock it. Actually food on set is generally a lot better than staff meals in restaurants are. I particularly loved the crafty stuff Ayelet the producer put out – I’m a fan of Foots. It’s a few feet of dried fruit that’s been pulverized, died bright red and then rolled up like thin tick tack. Sounds yucky. Feels like you’re a chameleon sucking in its own tongue as you devour it. Awesome.

Weird working hours.
I thought journalism was bad, but I’d forgotten what it was like to have a waitressing job… grafting til 2am then coming down til 4, then hitting college for the 7.45am class, then crashing for two hours, maybe studying some, before the cycle hit BEGIN again. Well I’m back there, just without the cash. In fact, WAIT. I’m paying to do this.

Having your own trailer.
Interestingly, if you’re a good actor, you get a trailer. IF you’re a lousy waiter, you get a trailer. MAYBE a spot on the Jerry Springer show or equivalent. See what I mean about the money?

Sex.
Okay, not too sure that actors get laid, as I’ve never been an actor, but I know that restaurants are pretty hot. Not the one I worked in. The ones where they’d heard of cleaning products and food.

Here are some pics from the production of Wilt, written by Lucien Knotter. There have been a few moments of touch and go, but I’ve managed not to snap anyone’s head off in return. On the whole, everyone’s friendly, professional, and doing everything they can to get the job done – and then some.

Another similarity is of course that without a sense of humour, you absolutely will not survive either job. So the more practiced the professional, the more they tend to be able to see the lighter side, at the worst of times. Like action heroes in the thick of battle, tossing clips and quips around as if their lives depended on it. On set, it really may depend on it.

Frank Romeo and Jennifer Levinson keep it light while they wait for action.

The staff meal... okay, I just photographed this one really. The next day we had Pollo Loco (that's Crazy Chicken to you) and it was pretty awesome.

Jennifer Levinson and Will Kasson mess around in between totally serious takes.

Meet Frank. He is a consummate professional. No, really - he not only does his job, but being experienced and diplomatic, is an asset to any DP or director and likely to save them time and money and face. He also tells jokes like this: Q: Do you know how the Roman empire was cut in half? A: With a pair of Caesars.

Five minutes after he told this joke it repeated on my overtired brain, and set off an hysterical laughing fit. I crawled into the kitchen to look for something on the crafty table with which to stabilise myself and ran into the producer’s assistant. He was having a laughing fit too, but for some other reason that I still don’t know.

THE END – cause I need to sleep now.

Jennifer Levinson, again.

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I see dreaming people – part III

October 27, 2010

Patrick Bosworth’s video, in which I starred as both a girl crying and a hat with hands, is now live here… I can’t get it to embed properly. But here is the facebook link – take a look. It’s made on the camera I want to buy, which costs much less than it would in South Africa… or, as I see it, the same as the average social smoker spends on cigarettes in a year. Or 20 takeout meals.
You might need to be his friend to watch the video – try though

Many other great ones. But I’m just going to stick to the ones I can embed. So only YouTube… pity vimeo insists on failing to embed on wordpress, and facebook (which people use for privacy reasons, even though they’re signing over rights when they do) is hopeless too.

So that’s just one or two.

Wendy Tzeng’s dream sequence
Wendy was the first person I spoke to at a social event at Chapman – during Dodge College’s various Mixer events. Mixers are parties where you kind of speed date, but without the sex. Usually.

Bethany Burr’s dream sequence
A late addition – some classes did things in a different order. Easily one of the best though. Bethany is  a screenwriter. She and her boyfriend work as a team, with him editing. Gorgeous photography too, by Oliver. District is a bar in Chapman. Popular with undergrads and people who sleep with them.

And previous installments in this series:
i see dreaming people II
i have a dream… you don’t wanna know

Could you be a teen vampire’s school lunch? Apply here…

October 24, 2010

Hey little schoolgirl… and boy. Wanna be in our film? We’ll make you look good. No, it’s not one of your favourite foreign movies. Just an innocent call for background actors for a cool, blood-flavoured student production at Chapman. We need extras who can pass for 17. We’ll feed and water you and later, we’ll party with you. Sound good? Details below.

The producer for the film, Ayelet, uploaded this to facebook. I'm not sure where she's been hanging out.

Time
31 October · 08:00 – 20:00

Location Corona Del Mar High School in Newport Beach, CA

Created by:

More info Wilt- a 1980’s Teen-Horror Film. All background actors will be in high school uniforms (costumes provided). 

Actors will be provided with a meal, copy, and credit.

We will be shooting at Corona Del Mar High School
2101 Eastbluff Dr
Newport Beach, CA 92660-4599

Producer: Ayelet Bick
Director: Andreas Chalikias
Screenwriter: Lucien Knotter
Cinematographer: Brad Porter

We plan on a really fun day. Wrap party to follow!!

Facebook link

I made this using the Got Milk thing when I was messing around with photoshop once. You like?

I’m the on set photographer in Wilt. Cool job, right? Here’s a photo I took for use in the decor (aka “production design”) of the house where we’re shooting. It’s of the three main characters.

The actors... they all seem very nice. Then again, everyone in California is very, very nice. Is it real - or is it just a movie?

Halloween in America: first blud

October 22, 2010

As I cycled home from an early Halloween party tonight, the wind of my speedy traveling made a woooooh woooooh woooooh noise in my ears.

I dressed up as broccoli. It was the scariest thing I could think of. And the cheapest.

Orange, CA… I think I’m falling in love with this nerd of a town. It’s so pretty and quiet. And yet, at certain times of year, it’s the scariest thing in the world. It’s like this one guy I was in love with for a few years. Impossibly beautiful. With a very dark side.

Reminds me of my childhood home. Without the "asylum" part perhaps.

Pretty. Weird. Like goth wedding decor.

Somehow this house is freakier in daytime with the American flag flying next to the ghoul.

I got lost and found this... I kept peddling.

My favourite one of all. This must be made by a film graduate... it's so well done.

In America, pumpkins are scary. Actually Halloween was originally a harvest festival, and people probably actually ate the pumpkin meat. Now apparently it all gets thrown away, which I find more disturbing than any halloween lawn.

Who needs ADT when you got... ME!

The best one I've seen. Not the most elaborate, but it just works so well.

Since Chapman Dodge College film studios students will all be filming their chase sequences soon, I suspect a lot of them will be halloween themed. I know I’d like mine to be. If only I can find a few kids, and drastically improve my broccoli costume… let me know if you have a child going spare.

 

I see dreaming people… II

October 21, 2010

Want to see the stupidest, funniest Halloween prank video EVER? Here it is. Thanks, Donte. That expanded my consciousness – downwards – and I really enjoyed it.

Halloween: It’s about to happen, but it’s already been upstaged by the stuff produced by my fellow students with their Dream Sequence videos. Which is something to say, considering how very seriously Americans take Halloween.

This skull, posted in the window of a mommy-wagon - opens and closes its mouth. Just after I took this photo a family of five plump, cornfed Americans rocked up, and stared at me as if I was crazy, before climbing into the car.

After seeing what my classmates dream about I’ve realised I’m really not NEARLY as weird as I always assume. Also take a look at the previous dream sequence post with my film in it, if you missed it and you want to see me naked. Sort of.

John Nordorft – The Errand
The guy has a taste for gore, and this movie made me want to go out and buy condoms.
Vimeo’s dumbass embed code doesn’t work here

Jason Baumgardner – Half Awake

I also really liked Angelica Robinson’s, which may not be posted as it contains nudity and I suspect she’s agreed not to make it public. But it was one of my favourites, easily.

Sarah Marples – Stop
No prizes for guessing why this pretty much moved me to tears. Sarah is a screenwriter like me, and we help each other out on shoots. Actually she’s acted in two of mine as well as helping shoot others.

Andre Kappel – The Dream
He’s a production student. This is more atmospheric than narrative, but very beautiful.

The promised post from the shoot that I helped out on isn’t ready yet, but I will blog that in part III then.

For now, I have things to do, and nowhere else to go tonight. I’ll be finishing some work, and then figuring out how to dress up as a giant broccoli for Halloween, which those of us who are committed to shooting over halloween are celebrating a week early, tomorrow… and then again twice on Friday. Cause “…every day should be Halloween”. Or is that “Mother’s Day”? I forget how the saying goes.

I have a dream… you don’t wanna know.

October 18, 2010

I’ve never been stupid enough to let anyone film me while I wasn’t wearing all my clothes. I recently broke this rule, inflicting one of my most enduring fears on myself, when I filmed my own nightmare – one I often have when I am convinced everyone is about to discover what a talentless fraud I really am.

Picture taken after I realised I'd accidentally locked everybody at the pool out of the change room. Nice...

I’ve never worked so hard in my life, or been this happy working too hard, before. Not sure how other film schools play the game, but at Chapman they believe everyone should know how to make a movie. So because we’re in groups of three-five people for the production class, everyone works on between three and four short films a week, excluding assignments to “Cycle” (that’s MFA second-year, for those who don’t speak 36343*) as we each have to produce our own exercise for each assignment. There’s the Intro Video, the Location of Character portrait, the Decision, the Dramatic Monologue, and now the Dream Sequence.

And it’s getting more and more competitive as we near the big chase sequence project that directing and cine students will shoot on film, and the 789 (the final project.) For the dream sequence, I know of several directing and cine students who have paid money for actors, or props, or both. This is a trend that, for them, is likely to continue until they get an actual job. Mind you a lot of men pay women to take their clothes off, and only directing students get to film them do it! And the stuff that’s being produced is getting really good. Here are a few of my favourites – so far. There are more on the way.

Ryan Broomberg – Purple

Shot using his own dog. Really cute, really funny, really professional. He’s a cinematographer.

Mike Fitzgerald – Night Swim
I will be crossing the street to avoid him. I’m sure he’ll be doing the same to me. I think he’s a director.

Daniel McDonald – Daydream
The beginning bit, shot in class, shows our production teacher Gil Bettman, who worked on Knight Rider and made the video for Chicago’s cheese classic, “Stay the Night” which the entire class has stuck in their heads after he made us watch it last week. Daniel’s emphasis is production – so unless he didn’t edit this himself, it’s unusually impressive.

And finally… Stranger (mine)
It was the easiest of nightmares to film because it didn’t involve flying, ladders between planets that break, or huge overweight babies wearing nappies and smoking cigars in glass houses. All I had to do was take off my clothes and run around… You can tell I’m not a director or a cine, but I’m okay with the result. I wrote the “script” – just a storyboard really – and directed and edited it. I also shot the bit in the bath.

I didn’t, of course, actually shoot it completely naked. But it’s pretty difficult running around without things popping out. Although the cameraman Ryan was kind enough not to mock me to my face, I can hear him laughing over most of the footage we took. I would have been too, but I was too busy trying to avoid getting arrested for public indecency.

In Part II on dreams, I’ll include the films that aren’t edited yet, one of which I am an extra in. I play a girl crying on a bed. The director made me cover my face. The camera doesn’t love me. The camera doesn’t even like me. The camera has broken up with me. But anyhow, check out a previous short by Patrick Bosworth.
Chop. Chop.

36343*
Translates as “DODGE”. I can play this game too.

Walk a mile in her shoes? I’d rather not…

October 17, 2010

 

I would rather not... other events organised by Chapman include the Underwear Run, in which the undergrads (mostly) run a mile in underwear. I guess it's a good way to figure out who you want to "bone" without having to have a pesky conversation. That's why I didn't go.

 

One thing I admit about Orange, CA is that although I find it a bit like a large, stuffy closet filled with hamburgers and Republicans at times, I am loving feeling really safe, physically, all the time. Of course, I’ve managed to find ways not to be safe. I would go crazy otherwise – but more about that when I post my next video assignment…

In the meantime, I really appreciate being safe. “Appreciate”, for those of you who don’t yet speak American, is the exact opposite of “I don’t appreciate” which basically means “I would like to stick a heat seeking missile up your ass to check if you have a pulse, you verminous scum, prepare to die”.

If any American you meet, especially a valley girl, says “I really don’t appreciate…” don’t wait for the end of the sentence. Just start running right away.

But aside from this threat, Orange is so safe that when a female student was goosed by a guy of unknown origin – wait for this… a guy on a bicycle with one leg in a splint – campus security sent out a mail to every single student on campus to warn them about the danger of this sexual harassment. I think this is awesome, by the way. This is how it should be. But that guy is really lucky he didn’t try that with me. I’m not saying the girl shouldn’t have been upset, or that she did the wrong thing, but with my sheltered middle class South African background? He’d have been toast. I would have pulled him off his bike, stolen his clothes, made him learn some poetry, and THEN called the cops. Either that, or I would have been dating him for some reason I would later have been unable to fathom.

So to build awareness of the difficulties that modern women face and to fight the burgeoning rate of bike-by fondling in America’s streets, Campus organises a yearly event in which guys have to walk a mile in girls’ shoes. I am glad I’m not a guy, because you couldn’t pay me to walk a mile in those torture devices.

The signs are up all around campus. For a while, I thought actually, this would be cool to do in South Africa. And then I thought uh… no. In Cape Town there are way too many guys going this already (the only reason I can walk in heels is cause a dude taught me). In Joburg you don’t want the guys to find out how hard it is to run away in those things, or to develop a taste for taking yours. And in Durban, nobody would bother to show up.

 

Yes, this is what you think it is - a piece of the Berlin Wall. I can just hear them: We'll BUY your communist wall!" Actually, it's pretty cool. At first I didn't realise what it was. Then someone mentioned it while giving directions to the hot dog stand. I said "Aha". It was that kinda moment.

 

Getting my characters from San Diego to Alabama, somewhere

October 15, 2010

They start here.

 

I've been to San Diego, but this isn't my photo. I found it on this site, which is a relic of the WWW's old days, I think. All wonky, all out of date, but once useful. Check it out for laughs.

 

The story I am turning into my script was originally set in South Africa, where I know what I’m doing. But I was challenged – nay, commanded – to set it in the USA. This is tricky, as I don’t know what is in the USA. Can you tell me? Here’s the route they’re taking, although they’ll be on the back roads. I’m even considering sending them through Mexico… is that a good idea? The main thing that must not happen is a roadblock that requires the Winnebago they’re traveling in to be stopped and searched.

 

If you've been to any of the places along this route, tell me about it. post a link in your comment to your blog about it... whatever you can offer me, I'd love. At some point, I'll do the trip myself. But right now, it's impossible.

 

Five days later, they’re somewhere around here.

 

Took this picture (actually only part of it) from a blog called classentravelogue.com.

 

36 hours in LA, my way

October 12, 2010

Welcome to LA - a breath of fresh air. This is really what it looks like - at least to my cell phone camera.


Ok, so I already wrote about what a dork I am, and how the cast of Glee wouldn’t let me play triangle for them if I tried (I’m that not-smooth, folks). That was the first part of my first real day in Hollywood, LA. And by the end of this first part, where I left you last, I was signed up to go do a pitch the next afternoon. I had also agreed about a week back to check out a band called Abney Park – a Steam Punk band from Seattle, USA, with a friend who I’ll call Wrestler – not his real name, but if you see him, you’ll see why it fits.

How do you spend a day in LA? Well you get as high as you can. The Observatory is a good start. See what I did there? I know. I suck.

The little white dot on the hillside in the top right is the HOLLYWOOD sign, which really needs straightening out... but I was more interested in this sign. I think it's great that you can't smoke in the nature reserve - at all. But of course, it's not enforced. Smokers are always desperate enough to chance it, and a couple puffed away nearby.


The Observatory is like a combination of Signal Hill, Lion’s Head, and an observatory and a museum. It’s quite literally the first place I’ve been to in America where I didn’t have to pay to park or to walk around. It’s really incredible looking down over this huge city, with its yellowing smog, and seeing at least 20 aeroplanes and helicopters in the sky at any time. It’s like some kind of post apocolyptic sci-fi scene.

Kwah kwah kwah kwah kwah kwah... they're everywhere, so much that I hardly hear them anymore.


Then back to West Hollywood. Which is pretty much my perfect place to live, except that it’s not on the beach. There’s plenty happening on Hollywood and Sunset Blvds all the time. There’s everything from great Thai food restaurants to no-tel motels with water beds and adult movies services signboarded, to LIVE NUDE GIRL bars, to restaurants with Rat Pack Credentials, to Amoeba records… one of the last stores of its kind, with the record industry paying the ultimate price for its stubbornness on digital.

A guy playing shoegazer music for tips broke my heart and got my dollar. This restaurant is the first American restaurant that I've been to in a week that doesn't have Halloween decorations up. The Christmas decorations are still up here, though. Either that, or they're extremely early.


Welcome to the museum… There’s a joke going around that Capitol Records, that LA landmark and tower of song, has downsized to one floor, and now rents the rest to internet companies. Ok, I lie. I just made that up. But I wouldn’t be surprised if it were true. The bit about downsizing to one floor is true though.

Mommy, you dresses you funny.


Speaking of the past… Steam Punk. I can’t say that by the time 10.45pm came and I was still standing in line, I still thought it would be worth it. I was exhausted after 14 hours on my feet. I was stressed about pitching the next day at the Screenwriting Expo. I still had to drive home from LA. And the people in the line outside Bar Sinister reminded me a bit of the old days of Cape Town at Playground, or The Rift. I was never that into black clothing. Had I really come all the way from Cape Town to LA, only to find myself surrounded by obese people dressed up as suicidal chambermaids? Crowds of Hipsters walked past on their way to a cooler club, shouting out mocking comments to the line of goth types snaking around the block at Bar Sinister.

Things got marginally spicier though, when Wrestler went to get a light for his cigarette and asked a BDSM couple higher in the queue.
“Sure,” says Dom-guy. “But you have to spank her.”
Wrestler laughs and reaches for the lighter.
“No, seriously,” says Dom-guy, while Ms Sub waits patiently in position.
Well, smokers… you’ve all seen them looking through the ashtrays at the end of a party… they’ll do anything. And plus, the girl had a cute ass. I know because saw it in detail later when Wrestler gave me a tour of the club, including the upstairs BDSM playroom, where she was bent over a chair with her hands intricately bound in stockings behind her back, and two men taking turns gently teasing her with a leather whip. Wrestler recognised her without being able to see her face.

Whatever.

Abney Park. They're lovely.


Now I was loving the old fashioned club with it’s high ceilings and ornate interior, like a Mad Men set. And Abney Park (from Seattle) weren’t much like the crowd. They’re fun, funny, don’t take themselves seriously. But know their shit musially – listening to them I realised which trend inspired Madness’ latest album, which is possibly their best ever. And Abney Park’s lead singers are undeniably sexy. To see what steam punk clothes really look like – cause most of the crowd wasn’t wearing them on Saturday – check out the less hot but better-lit shmodel version here. Steam punk is like technology for luddite discoverer party people. It’s like Cowboy meets Columbus. It’s really pretty cool.

Steam Punk is punk for luddite inventors, so this lightbox is meant to be powered without batteries - body heat or friction or something. Other toys included spyglasses. Actually it all fitted in nicely with the Camera Obscura I saw at the observatory earlier.


Anyhow, then I drove home. A long, long way it seemed, at night. And after a quick nap I was in my car again and cruising back LA way. I gathered myself. I felt like I might faint or sweat myself to death. I got in line. Kept moving. I pitched to my first production company.

It was an amazing feeling. A total rush. Terrifying. Actually, a bit like a mixture between a fairground ride and a slaughterhouse tour, a casino and speed dating. Pitching a screenplay at Golden Pitchfest works like this:

1. First, you take a number. Well actually you pay to take a number. $15 at the Screenwriting Expo, more if you buy off a scalper, nothing if it’s an all included festival
2. Then you move into room one, where they stun you show you the layout of your final destination, so you can figure out which processing area table to head to once you go in.
3. In room two, you sit on the chair labeled with your table number. I think this is in case the production company person is done early and wants to come fetch you. Or to stop the screenwriters fighting over seats? Weird… we’re way too nerdy for that shit. From there, you can hear the DING as the pitch time begins, the frantic buzz of voices pitching, and the DONG! as everyone gets up and leaves. You’re next.
4. You scramble for your table, with five minutes to tell your story. You try get it done in 2 minutes, to leave time for questions/excuses. If they hate it, they just say “thanks”. If they like it or pity you, they ask for a 1-page printed summary from you. If they really like it, they actually call you, or promise to.
5. When your time is up, you get out of there. Because another screenwriter is already standing by the table, grinning maniacly at the poor dude(tte) who’s about to be subjected to the burden of dashing another poor nerd’s hopes and dreams.

So, in a nutshell, aaaahsome.

After the first taste, I was hooked. I literally stood at the table like an addicted gambler, counting out my last cash dollars to buy another two tickets. II wanted to win, I was sure I would win, if I could stay in the game a little bit longer.

The score? I got two “can I keep the one-page” responses, and one “parents won’t let their kids watch this, so not for us, but I love it”. I headed home to catch up on my assignments for the week, another big fear squirming in agony as it breathed its last panicky gasp of deathbreath. Bye-bye, sucker!

The crystal balls-up

October 9, 2010

That cliche that “life’s a funny thing” is right there with all the other true cliches. I try not to have helpful encouraging fridge magnets (but I do). I try not to borrow my wisdom from signboards in coffee shops. But I do today.

My equivalent of the HANG IN THERE kitten-poster you always see in the offices of civil servants, administrative staff of educational institutions, and psychotic HR professionals.


See I went to an event at the Directors Guild of America on Sunset Blvd, which is something I would never have predicted I’d be doing about, oh, say three years back, when I was actually fully convinced I should just cut my losses, walk into the sea and keep going. I don’t think I would be very good as a psychic, reading crystal balls and so on. Nothing has ever worked out the way I expected, specially as I’m pretty much exactly the person Paul Simon described in “Something so Right.”

I’m not a director (unless that school play counts) but Randal Kleiser said I should attend this event, so I did. I mean who’s going to turn down the chance to see people like Gary Fleder (Things to do in Denver When You’re Dead), Aaron Schneider (Get Low) and Penelope Spheeris (The Decline of Western Civilization I, II, and III) talk about how they got to somewhere near the top of the game?

The organisation that has seen Directors from their early unionised days as studio slaves to their current unionised days of ... studio slaves rich enough to build buildings like this.


After hearing them all speak, I was left with one main thought: I have no time to lose. No time at all. Schneider spoke of how after his short film Two Soldiers won an Oscar he got 20 meetings, but not one job… and how it took him five years to make Get Low, despite having Bill Murray ready to shoot. Spheeris, who started out doing music videos in the 70s (in her words, 1912), only got her break because she broke a new path, at a time when the music companies realised that instead of sending their bands around to tour a new album, they could just “…send a film instead.” They all came up at a time when digital filmmaking was new or stupid, so just making a film at all was hard. Now it’s not like that. I’ve made films, and I’m just a screenwriter. But by the same token, Spheeris points out that instead of Sundance getting 800 submissions, they now get 8-10 000. And to stand out, Schneider says, you need to be able to make someone some money. And then handle having it without crashing and burning. Spheeris plays up her “Orange County Trailerpark” roots, wearing leopard print jeggings that probably cost more than my car (which, admittedly, isn’t saying much.) A former UCLA student, she’s also the only girl in the USC Boy’s Club. And there are a LOT of boys at this thing, mostly wearing dark jackets with jeans. If you were casting for the part of student director, they could provide their own wardrobe. No Problem.

After the event I ran into a fellow student Donte (D. Murry), a Director who was on his way to pitch a pretty cool script at the Screenwriting Expo (I know it’s cool, cause I gave him some feedback on it). He had a couple of spares for a time he couldn’t make. He offered one to me… and I said no. And watching him work the room, I lost my nerve when it came to networking too, and headed for the lifts. I always feel like an idiot at these things, like they’re going to think I want something from them, but I don’t. I wish I knew what to ask for at all! And then in the lift I ran into Penelope Spheeris, and we had some random conversation about how they always have to find one woman for these panels… so they get invited a lot. Either a woman or a black gay guy. Which isn’t really fair on herself. She’s there because she’s got more experience and is a hell of a lot funnier than anyone else there… and when I realised that, I turned around, and went back upstairs. And I spoke to people. And I went back to Donte and asked him if I could have that pitch ticket, after all.

Now my heart is banging on my ribcage like it’s going to break it. Who needs adventure theme parks if you’re living my life? But I’m thinking of it this way – and I should get a T-Shirt with this on it actually – What’s the worst that can happen? They can tell me no chance, get out! And I’m already out right now. This is how I’ve been running my life for about six months, and so far the rollercoaster’s centrifugal force is with me.

On the networking front, I’ve met more people in the film industry at The Coffee Bean (opposite the DGA on Sunset) than I did after lunch with my mouth full of turkey. So now, I’m off to get some decent food, watch me a bit of steam punk, and steel myself up for tomorrow. And read some online articles about “how to pitch”, I guess… let’s hope my days as a journalist selling stories stand me in good stead.