Posts Tagged ‘chapman’

Brothers and Sisters of America* – The overflow of the News24 Column

April 1, 2011

So it’s that time of the month again. Yes, you guessed it. My column for News24 hits the virtual stands. This latest is sure to lead to an online hazing for me, as they all do. Last time people got so mad they started insulting my teeth. Is it true? Are straight teeth more important to most Americans than the words that come out of my mouth? I kind like my skew teeth, along with my lumpy nose-profile. Screw you guys. They’re cute. They’re unique. They’re… cheaper. My parents spent the braces money sending me for music lessons instead and I’m glad they did. I also changed my column photo…

Grade this! I give it an A for Attitude and a D for Doggy. Whatever... I got your attention right? The only connection with my column topic is that the guy is a member of a Fraternity that got into trouble recently for a sexist email circulating... And no, that is NOT me in the photo. Don't you even read the like, news in South Africa? OMG WTF ROFL.

So, this week’s column is about Sororities, and Fraternities, and other Greek stuff. Greek means something totally different here to what it means in SA, although you wouldn’t guess that by looking at the picture above. What… you’re still looking at the picture. Oh, I’m sorry. Whenever you’re done… (Perezhilton has all the details but one: where the girl goes to school. The answer is UCLA – who also have a pretty good film school. Personally I don’t see what the big deal is. I mean, they’re consenting adults. And I bet having sex on a roof is awesome. I bet you’re all just jealous. Nothing this exciting ever happens at my school, Chapman… although we did just score some film school brownie points thanks to a recent announcement that we’re going to be making and distributing five low-budget student features every year. For more on that, go to this LA Times link.)

So, I did do my research, as you can see. Only joking, I also went to Wikipedia. And I googled it. And I didn’t watch Dying to Belong cause I know it’s a bunch of bullcrap. And I asked people what they thought. Most of them declined to comment, probably because they’ve read my column before.

Here’s this month’s column:

Brothers and Sisters of America
I was driving to a movie date with another student when a girl without pants stumbled in front of my car.
Read it on news24

Here are some of the things people said on the topic.

Michael McClelland – @magicmike1313 on twitter
Michael may let me publish his full comment. Here’s part of what he said…
“I enjoyed your perspective on fraternities and sororities. I would caution, however, that the more sensational stories about them tend to get most of the headlines and are often untrue. Hazing is universally banned in the Greek community, and though it still obviously occurs, that is almost always the fault of the school’s policies and not the fraternity/sorority. The second hazing is reported in any chapter of any nationally (“internationally” haha) recognized Greek institution, it is shut down, usually with a zero-tolerance policy. We had two chapters in our region accused of hazing and both were closed for five years, at which point they could be invited back on – but on probation. Similar punishments occur for drinking offenses, low GPAs, or any kind of sexual misconduct. I had to jump out of the window of my own fraternity house with two bottles of beer taped to my hands (Edward 40-hands) so that we wouldn’t lose our charter.”

Right. So it happens, but not legally. And it’s the school’s fault for not stopping it. All I want to know, is what kind of misconduct he was being punished for. I bet Perezhilton wants to know, too. Unfortunately I only got Mike’s stuff after I’d submitted. I encouraged him to publish a full version somewhere, if not on my blog.

Rose Cohen @rose_cohen on twitter
Responded to my question to South Africans. I asked whether we had anything comparable to sororities. She said:
“Hmmmm. Can’t really be much help here. I went to TUT (Tswane
University of Technology). It’s an Afrikaans institution in Pretoria.
We had horrible HKs (short for Huis Kommittee/House Committee) in res.
There was one per floor and there were 12 floors in our res. They were
like prefects. They met every Monday evening and then came back to us
minions with news/rules from the front such as:
1. Thou shalt not sleep over at a men’s res.
2. Thou shalt wear a dress on a Sunday (true story I fucking HATED
that, eventually I stopped getting out of bed on a Sunday).
3. Thou shalt choose a theme for your floor and decorate it. (Hated
that too, so childish. We did under the sea  one year and a space
theme another, whoo hoooo).
So our HKs wore a uniform: navy skirt, navy high heels, navy blazer.
They were voted into place by us minions to be holier than thou,
because they DID sleep over at the men’s res.
Not sure if that ties in with sorority.”

Kelebetsung Scheppers (@kelescheppers on twitter) says
“Nope, we didn’t have sororities that did any of the below-mentioned things. In fact, that list sounds like something about of a bad American horror movie. At Rhodes, we just had societies – students joining up to chat about social issues and raise funds etc. But seeking approval on whom you date? Not so much.”

Riekie Human, Freakflagmedia says
Eish. The only knowledge I have of those things are what I’ve seen in American flicks! We didn’t have sororities or fraternities where I went.” And she went to Stellenbosch, which is famous for scary initiations – and drinking. And high academic standards.

Shaheema Barodien @Shaheemab on twitter
“@JeanBarker In SA they’re called rugby teams and, er, their girlfriends.” (I quoted her in the story).

Dave Chislett @bigdavesee on twitter
“@JeanBarker Rhodes has a long history of ‘drinking clubs’ similar though not quite the same scale or influence of fraternities.”

Kelsey Marie, a producer/MBA at Chapman says (only got this post-publication – I forgot to mention my deadline)
“I went to a small, private, liberal arts university called Whittier College. It is located in Whittier, CA, in Los Angeles county, and has about 1500 students. At Whittier we had societies instead of sororities and fraternities. It was the same idea, just not national and not Greek. This meant that we could be more specific to the needs of our students and our school, rather than having to answer to a national organization. This also meant very inexpensive dues (around $100 a semester as opposed to around $2000 a semester that members have to pay in the National Greek system). Lots of people think that being a part of a sorority or fraternity or, in my case, a society, is about partying and getting wasted and having lots of sex. While that isn’t completely untrue (I mean, come one, we were all young once) there is a lot more to it than that. People also think that being a member of a fraternal organization is like buying your friends; it isn’t like that either. First of all, to address the “buying your friends” rumor, yes, we do pay dues every semester. Thing is, these dues are used to pay for activities and events for the society. Fun things that we’d have to pay for anyway if we did them. In this case, however, we are just paying for them in advance. Therefore, the “buying your friends” argument doesn’t work. As far as what a society is about, and why I pledged… well… that’s a great question. When I was a kid I got made fun of a lot. I am kind of a quirky person and not everyone knows how to accept me. When I first got to college I thought that I didn’t want to join a society because I didn’t want to be labeled. I didn’t want to be stuck in a box and not be able to hang out with other people or do other things. Well as time went on I got to know some wonderful people. It turned out that most of the people that I was becoming friends with were in societies. I decided to at least check it out. I went to two societies rushes: the Palmer Society and the Thalian Society. Now rush at Whittier College is a bit different than at other schools. For us it is a day where the active (current) members of the society take out prospective members for a day of fun. The Palmer Society took us to Chinatown. We were put into teams and were given a Scavenger hunt. Then they took us out to a Chinese restaurant for lunch. In the afternoon we went to an alumna’s house where we saw a slide show of the Palmers and looked at scrapbooks and photo albums and ate cake and drank Palmer punch (the non-alcoholic version because prospective events and pledging are dry). At the alumna’s house we also heard from all the actives and alumni why they pledged and what Palmers means to them and what they do now. For the Thalian Society rush we went to the horse race track. I was only able to stay for the morning, unfortunately, but I had a great time. After careful consideration I decided that I fit in better with the Palmer Society and, thankfully, I was given a bid (asked to join the society). When I pledged the hazing was VERY limited. Basically just a lot of information to memorize and a lot of late nights. It’s stressful because you are tired but really, I’d do it all again. I decided to pledge because I wanted a place where I could be my quirky self and people would still love me. That’s why I love Palmers. Sure, we are like every other family, there are times when we fight and don’t all of our sisters all the time. In the end, though, we are a family and we love each other and we have each other’s back. That’s what sisterhood means to me.
You may credit me as
Miss Kelsey Marie
“RMO Linus FHC” (we all get big drinking mugs after we pledge with coded nicknames on them)
Palmer Society of Whittier College
NME 2004 (NME = New Member Education –> Whittier’s name for pledging)
Class of 2007

Anyhow, Chapman is huge on Greek Life. I learned tonight that about 65% of people at my school are members of a sorority or a fraternity. Compare that to NYU – about 10%. But then I guess NYU is traditionally a cooler school. *ducks*.

I wish they all could be alpha phi california girls, I wish they all... I'm tired.

This girl's packing it in, with Jesus and the sorority. What's the bet she's also on the cheer squad?

* For those of you who do not know… the title is a play on how Mandela addressed the nation as president.

Some final films of the fall semester at Dodge College, Chapman

December 18, 2010

The pros and cons of movie making… what I learned from the last month of filming all our final projects.

How many filmmakers does it take to change a light bulb? Depends on the gaffer, I guess.

Well let’s start with the cons: You can never control the results as much as you’d like to. The hours are long, and always longer than you expect. You don’t get to sleep. Creative egos are bound to lead to clashes. And technical stuff will always trip you up at the very last minute. So, nothing I’m not used to from working as a journalist!

The pros make all the cons worth it: The end result of what you made with other people is better than anything you could do alone. It doesn’t matter how long filming or editing or writing takes, because you love every minute of it. Sleep is overrated, unless you have nothing better to do. Creative egos challenge you to do your best. Technology allows amazing new things to be done every day, reviving that sense of wonder you had as a kid.

I took a whole bunch of photos of signs, but I’m sure you’d rather watch movies than look at photos. So I’ll post links to those I was involved with. And a few I just happen to think are really good, too.

Mine – Steal My Heart
I wrote, directed, edited and produced this – on a $30 budget. But I could not have done that without the help of my amazing cinematographers, actors, and everyone else who helped me out – all credited. Not bad for a 4.5 hour total shoot time. The editing took a little longer!

John Nodorft – Rifle Ave.
We talked about it a lot, and I co-wrote the screenplay with him. He did what every writer dreams of having done – he made it happen even better than I could have imagined. He is now my hero forever.

Ezra Lunel – Lucky Guys
Very much a work in progress. But I love what he’s doing with this so far. He and I workshopped his initial idea in a over coffee. Then he let me go mad writing, gave me frequent and fast feedback, and made me star in the movie at the end. It was great working with him – the actors will back me up here. And the movie was shot by John Nodorft – so it looks fantastic. Designed to be watched full screen.

John McKay – Punchline
Suspect you’ll only be able to watch this if you are his friend on Facebook. I helped write the screenplay, and learned a lot about how collaboration works in the process. Sometimes you got to just let go, and let the director make the final decisions. The results may surprise you.

That’s what I can find. I guess I’ll add others as they show up.

I had nothing to do with these, but I like them

Kennedy Phillips – Autopilot

Daniel McDonald – Sorry I Forgot Our Anniversary

Mike Fitzgerald – Niko and Claudia

Nikolas Passaris

Also liked but can’t embed vimeo on stupid wordpress.

Sarah Wilson Thacker – Freeze Dance

Windsor Yuan – The Day After

Charles J. Gibson – First day

Bruce Meyers – Cousins

Cemeteries of the soul – behind garage doors

December 5, 2010

Garages are the attic of a man’s world. While the photos of you when you were a kid, the first drawing of a dysfunctional / smiling family in front of a house, the blonde doll you alternately loved and tortured and your dead puppy’s collar might end up in Mom’s attic, Dad has his own cemetery of the soul.

Garages have always fascinated me. I shot my first production exercise in one. It’s full of mistakes (I’ll never zoom again as long as I live, I swear). But I still love it.

Here, dreams and pride gather dust. Stuff that might belong to many people, dumped there for safekeeping and never collected. If you ask to borrow something from garage, the answer will almost always be “yes”, and quite often becomes: “As long as you never bring it back.” In South Africa, an organisation I wrote about called Men at the Side of the Road raised funds partly by clearing out people’s garages and re-purposing their junk.

And I’ve never been in a garage you couldn’t write a movie about. Happily for me, we were shooting Sarah’s 789 (that’s Dodge-speak for “five minute short”) in an actor’s garage last night, after mine turned out to have no electrical plug for the lights.

A shovel. A ladder. Some unidentifiable stuff. Mattresses? And wait... what is that?

Ronald Reagan signed photo

It's a signed photograph of Ronald Reagan. The president who called a 1988 strike on Iranian ships "Operation Praying Mantis". He was one creepy guy. And look who all's in the background!

And this cat. Loved enough to have its portrait taken and framed. But now the picture's on the floor behind a mattrass, gathering grime. Who was Kitty Cat?

Take 5, Shovel. Starring Dan McDonald, Daphne Karpel and Will Kasson.

Being American seems to involve owning copious amounts of American flags, which go all over the place. On matches. Above the creepy crawly spare pipe. On cupboards, cars, post boxes, doors... Above a box of golf clubs that don't seem to have made it out onto the green for a while.

Speed, freaks and the thrill of the chase

November 11, 2010

Lights! Camera! Action! Kink! Hot rods! Babes! Elephants! Oscars! Five out of seven ain’t bad.

Shopping for this shit was a mission. Then I still had to sit and sew stuff. The result? Relatively convincing, for a student production. Mrs Bleach, I finally found a use for all the stuff you taught me, although I have to inform you that your washing of my mouth out with soap for swearing was a 100% fucking failure.

It’s the same, every week. I arrive in production class sure that this time I’ve gotten this damn film-making thing right. Usually a couple of people have had a look and given me feedback, which I’ve then implemented in the edit. I’ve tried to avoid the mistakes I made in the past, like making my own puppets, zooming, appearing naked in my own videos or taking instructions literally.

For the chase sequence assignment, I even got real people to act. Vanessa Wolf (a theatre student at Chapman) has quite a lot of experience on films. Whatever’s wrong with my work is nothing to do with her.

Jennifer Wolf is great to work with. I hope she'll let me use her for something again. For the final shot, I said I wanted it to be funny and porno, and asked her to play it straight. And she did it perfectly - without losing dignity.

Ed Moore, a second year director who has helped me more than once before, put me on to her. Then Josh Sheets (yes, his real name) has done some acting and modeling here and there. I met him at the sort-of-wrap-party for Wilt. I thank the power of tequila for the fact that I thought he needed to star in one of my films and asked for his number. Remind me: Who said drugs were bad?

Anyhow, it’s short, but we had under two hours to shoot it and chases are heavy on set-ups, particularly at night when you need to light stuff. Those who’ve wanted to see my car: it is in the movie.

Twisted – Jean Barker
Fixed version – updated 5.28pm on Nov 12.

Apart from directing my own chase, in which I only kind of appear (as the driver of my own Mustang, Sally) I also agreed to act in quite a few. I starred as a Concerned Citizen, A Thief, and a Large Breasted Woman. In the two where I have to run, it’s kinda scary just how much bouncing goes on. This has made me realise I need to lose a few pounds. Not for health reasons – my BMI is fine – but because I’m vain. Why lie about it?

The assignment was different from class to class. In most classes only directing and cine students needed to do the chase, and shot it on 16mm. But in ours we were all made to do it, though the writers, producers and other floozies of film were only required to shoot on digital. This means I’ll probably post another story with the directors’ and cine’s work, as their stuff’s mostly still at Kodak. The videos I appear in have not been posted online… yet.


Andrew Kappel – Jerkins
A cute, sweet, sad, cringe-inducing film about a pre-teen looking for somewhere private to get intimate with a Victoria’s Secret catalogue. John Nodorft – a cine, and someone I hope I get to work with more – shot this one for him. The kid is pretty much a professional actor.

John Nodorft – Mondays are Hell
John shot this awesome battle between the devil and Jesus in both digital and on film. I’ll post the film cut next week. My favourite bit is the last shot… A little behind the scenes info: both actors were extremely hung over. I know this because we were all at the same pre-halloween Halloween party the night before.

Why are these signs on this lawn?

November 10, 2010

What happened – did someone decide to erect this late at night after a bottle of pinot? Do they feel strongly about the alienation of mass pop culture? What is this all about? I am used to stuff like this popping up around Cape Town – I archived about three years’ worth on my old letterdash blog that’s unfortunately fallen prey to a squatter. And seemingly random hearts are the latest trend there.

A few thousand students must walk past every day. Every one of them stopped to read this.


"Why in the world do strangers feel the need to talk to each other at airports? I will never understand this." Well I don't know. I do. I talk to strangers all the time. Why not? I also sometimes don't talk much to friends. But most of all I don't understand why you put this sign on your lawn. I mean, I like it, but I don't get it. I love it. I don't get it.

And then on the other side, of the same sign… this!

"Life before google - a short story" BUNNY1: I just thought of something I'd like to know more about. BUNNY2: That's a damn shame.

Google THIS, fucking rabbit cartoon people. On a road near Chapman University. If anyone can explain it, I’d love to know what it’s all about.

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

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.


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.


Wonderful, Wall-E and… Wankeriffic

October 1, 2010

I’m becoming used to seeing limousines dropping guest speakers at Chapman. But Ralph Eggleston from Pixar blew my mind and made my brain want to bound again. You’ve probably seen his Oscar-winning short, For the Birds, right? How about Toy Story, or The Incredibles (the short on that, Bounding, is brilliant too but not his), or maybe Wall-E?

Presentation at Chapman by Ralph Eggleston

There was no way I was missing this. Still upcoming in the next seven days: A presentation by someone involved win Avatar, someone from Dreamworks, and the Directors Guild lunch in LA, another Randal Kleiser session, and a screening of his film "It's My Party". Plus so many deadlines I am quivering in terror right now.

Yeah. Him. And like all really successful people, he’s generous with his fame, mentioning by name the various animators, artists, directors, art directors and influences involved in every scene. It’s amazing the contrast between people like him and the less experienced, who through nerves or insecurity don’t remember give credit to the screenwriter or cinematographer on their thesis film, referring to them simply as “The screenwriter” – if at all. When I was still a journalist, I dreaded interviewing a new band, because they’d always be the most annoying and arrogant, while an international icon like Dave Matthews didn’t take himself seriously at all. Ralph spent most of the presentation talking about old movies like Gone with the Wind, and other groundbreakers, and not about how they’d flashed their art, but how they’d used the production design to make a story better for the audience.

Dealing with the topic of Production design, Eggleton kept coming back to the fact that you need to work from the inside out. From the heart of the characters and their driving emotional needs, to the story and the setting. He calls the new Star Wars movies “wankerific” – an all big budget show and no meaning. No, he’s not against experimentation, but like the new Pepsi logos it can be pretty interesting and “…a complete failure”.

Innovative, but useless, like those owls.

As someone who recently had endure almost two hours of owl-on-owl action in 3D, I couldn’t agree more. I don’t care how good your feathers look. We have feathers in the real world. Tell me a story, or I won’t give a hoot.

And then a bit of insider stuff about Wall-E, a production that he described as “the most difficult thing I have ever done” mostly because the story kept changing. For instance, the humans were originally written as aliens. At some point they became translucent, so you could see their stomachs, but “then we were going to have to deal with the other half of their organs, so we stopped.” In the end the Wall-E Humans were modeled more on the guy in the IKEA instructions. Their movement was based on two factors: 1. the scientific knowledge that the real reason we don’t send a human to mars is that bone density decreases with every week spent in space, and 2. the way jello mixed with vinegar to give it more “hold”, wobbles.

The result, after more than 7000 drawings? Big fat babies who could no longer walk unaided and lived their lives in space age lazyboys on wheels. Ralph shows us a character in motion: “This is what we spanked jello for”, he says glumly. “We didn’t know what they were or even why they were there for most of the time.”

Because it’s hard for a robot to show emotion, Wall-E’s and Eve’s feelings were conveyed using romantic (as in emotionally intense) lighting and shots of them suspended in a huge, dead world alone with one another. But as the focus moved onto the romance between them and more of the movie was set in the ship, the need to spend money and time on locations (and reworking the whole story) meant that mood lighting was sacrificed for this setting’s sake. Actually, I did feel the movie lost some pace because of this. The joke of the space ship (a giant perennial cruise ship that exposed the denial of America’s class system with its various cabins) lost it’s appeal pretty quickly. I found the dark beginning of the movie much more intriguing. This is all easy to say NOW of course.

Imagination is a collaborative process of borrowing, as Steven Johnson says in different words in this Ted Talk, Where do good ideas come from?

Great artists know this, and so they do their research by going to real places to learn how they work. This is cool if you’re shooting Blue Lagoon. Less cool if you’re making Wall-E. “The folks working on Rattatouille got to go to Paris. We got to go to the dump,” Ralph says. But only once, because a week after their first visit a guy was killed when he fell into the shredder, so visitors were no longer permitted.

Inspiring. The Swedish guys you really DON'T want to sleep with, no matter how quickly they can assemble a bed.

What else? Apple didn’t design Eve. The dude from Apple merely approved her. The old show-tune at the beginning was used because Wall-E Director Andrew Stanton (who also pretty much rewrote Jim Reardon‘s original screenplay around the love story) had appeared in a production that featured it. And a waterfall was cut out of the space ship because “Water? Money. No.”

My brain feels alive again. Like a muscle that’s just remembered how it works and what it was designed to do. I always love the first three minutes of a 3D film, but only Toy Story really kept me excited the whole way through. Writers love Pixar, and I think the reason why is obvious.

More about pixar? Try

Wall-E's early humans' space suits.

Wall-E's early human helmets

Movies to look out for, in Ralph Eggleton’s opinion? Well his favourite recent film is Let the Right One In, so you can trust him. He hasn’t seen the US remake but says the production design is similar. Then he recommends Black Swan (a Natalie Portman show set in the world of ballet, which I nearly went to a preview of on Wednesday, but didn’t as entrance wasn’t guaranteed and I didn’t have time to stand in line). And he says an upcoming Pixar production titled Brave will “blow your socks off.”.

Secret agents in my bed – the making of the video

September 5, 2010

Not as sexy as it looks.

When you’re spending a small fortune going to film school in the USA, nothing anybody says reassures you that you’re worth it. Trust me… nothing. Until, at least, you manage to finish your first project, someone sees it, and they don’t throw you out right away. The first project we had to turn in wasn’t even for grades, but I took it seriously. Seriously enough to spend the entire weekend making giant bed bug puppets from the contents of my recycling bin.

recycling to extremes

I even gave the bugs a manicure. How nice am I?

The brief for the video project was something like: “Introduce yourself in a two minute video, in which you may not appear. Have fun!” I didn’t have a clue what to do, so I was extremely relieved when my attack by vicious bed bugs on arrival in California resulted in an idea for a video… an idea that probably required not just a budget for effects, but also the help of a few other people. You don’t think the electrical, the gaffer, the grip or the AD are important until you see the shadows, screw up the sound, or trip over the wire from the desk lamp you’re using as lighting and hit your head on the desk you’re using as a puppet theatre.

Me and Mary, in happier times. As you can see, I also failed to hire an on-set photographer.

I managed to make a pretty cool bug, which I then defaced a bit so it looked like it had been in the wars.

Mary is now ready for her closeup.

Then I set the camera up on the tripod, succeeded in putting both bugs on my hands without breaking them, and shot a few different angles, using re-usable ingredients. V8 Juice was for blood (it saved me a week of making salads), toilet spray could be crudely disguised as poison, and the light switches in some of the shots are real light switches! I wore a pillow over my head and a sheet wrapped around me to help me blend in with the wall behind me. There’s a lot of footage of me being an idiot, hitting my head, tripping over stuff, appearing in the shot by accident, as well as blank footage of the wall, plus a few usable shots of the puppets, some of which also showed their eyes. Yeeeha!

On set with Mary and Bill.

A 2nd year student saved me (via facebook) by offering to do the voice for the Agent from Atlanta. Thanks Ed Moore. I will name you in my Oscars speech.

After I was done, the table was covered in a milky liquid and my living room smelled like a giant gladiola flower had repeatedly masturbated (to its own immense satisfaction) all over my dining room table/desk/props table/studio.

Hi-tech stuff man...

And the result? Well, this is it.