Sunday, August 28, 2005

A good day for blogging

Sunday seems like my best blogging day. After church, we come home and either everyone naps or almost everyone does. And since I never nap, I have a little quiet time. The two eldest kids are not napping right now, but they're engaged in some kind of fantasy game, which involves creating a fort behind a chair in the corner of the living room. As long as they don't awake my napping spouse, I am encouraging this behavior (I would anyway, because I like it when they have active imaginations).

So, I SHOULD be using this time to prep for tomorrow's classes. Just a little review. I'll do it in a few minutes, when I finish this post.

Finally watched the Brad Pitt-starring Troy. I've had the Netflix flick for three weeks (thank God they invented Netflix), since before I finished shooting the film. I wasn't in the mood for it the past few times I had time to watch a movie. And at two hours and forty-five minutes, it's a huge commitment. And I just knew it was going to be this slow-moving 'epic' that would bore the hell out of me.

So, it wasn't that bad. It just wasn't remarkable. Brad Pitt was suitably introspective as the warrior Achilles, who wants to be remembered forever. But his looks and his manner of speech made him seem an anachronism in this film. He was doing the faux British 'I'm in a movie with a bunch of foreigners who all have British accents so I guess I have to, too' accent. And he only does a so-so job with it. I actually think Pitt is a pretty decent actor who has taken some really offbeat roles. But he just didn't do it for me here.

The idea that Paris, played by Orlando Bloom, could start this mess by stealing a king's wife, and that NO ONE would be all that upset about this? That struck me as odd. They showed his brother get upset, but really no one seemed too bothered by it, especially, ya know, the soldiers who were all going to fight because of his inability to fall for a single woman.

Maybe I missed the scenes of discontent among the soldiers. I admit, I waa doing other things while I was watching.

Film Update: I am supposed to see a chunk of edited footage on Monday afternoon. The editor told me he was working towards having this 'chunk' done, though I don't know how much that is. I am hopeful for good things. I need to be hopeful, because I don't have time to start editing this myself right now, and if I end up feeling like I can't trust the editor (who is, admittedly, a student), then I will have to do just that.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Mild but pleasant surprise, as far as nerd/geek/dork tests go.

Modern, Cool Nerd
60% Nerd, 65% Geek, 43% Dork

For The Record:

A Nerd is someone who is passionate about learning/being smart/academia.
A Geek is someone who is passionate about some particular area or subject, often an obscure or difficult one.
A Dork is someone who has difficulty with common social expectations/interactions.

You scored better than half in Nerd and Geek, earning you the title of: Modern, Cool Nerd.

Nerds didn't use to be cool, but in the 90's that all changed. It used
to be that, if you were a computer expert, you had to wear plaid or a
pocket protector or suspenders or something that announced to the world
that you couldn't quite fit in. Not anymore. Now, the intelligent and
geeky have eked out for themselves a modicum of respect at the very
least, and "geek is chic." The Modern, Cool Nerd is intelligent,
knowledgable and always the person to call in a crisis (needing
computer advice/an arcane bit of trivia knowledge). They are the one
you want as your lifeline in Who Wants to Be a Millionaire (or the one
up there, winning the million bucks)!

Link: The Nerd? Geek? or Dork? Test written by donathos on Ok Cupid

Thursday, August 25, 2005

First week of classes... over, and I survived. It feels like we're in week three or four already. I think I'm generally past the jitters I had when I arrived here last year. I'm not as uptight about walking into class and depending on my abilities to lead the students in a discussion. This is, in part, based on trusting my abilities, and the other part is that I just don't think the students are smart enough to know when I'm BS-ing while I process something and try to figure out what I'm going to say.

The film is, I hope, going well. The editor, a student (with some real talent as an editor, not so much for being on time to meetings or returning phone calls), says he will have a chunk to show me on Monday. I'm going to make my graduate postproduction students sync up all the digitally-recorded audio with the HD footage (we used a new digital recording system that didn't have timecode slaved to the camera, so we have to sync to the slate! I feel like I'm back in my film editing days from film school.

Only, you know, now I'm not the assistant editor having to sync up all the lousy footage from someone's bad student film.

Anyway, we're still shooting for Sundance's late deadline (September 30th) with at least a good rough cut. I'll know Monday afternoon if we're being realitic. We'll see.

What else is new... hm... I'm getting up every morning at 0-dark:30 because my daughter started school last week. So I take her and then go into the office, where I dawdle for a while til the coffee is ready and I can finish waking up. So I'm exhausted at night, but it does feel good to be on a semi-regular schedule again.

Damn, my blog is getting so boring. I have nothing interesting to say! Like you really want to read about what time I get up in the morning. Next thing you know I'll be chronicling how many bottles of water I drank and what I ate for lunch.

Eight and nothing, if you must know.

New (School) Year's Resolution: get something of a life, write about that.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Newbie No Longer

Just a quick random thought -- I was reading New Kid's blog (see my blogroll at right, I'm too lazy to link it, sorry) -- and she was talking about not being a newbie anymore.

As much as I enjoyed being the new guy and getting all the attention last year, I'm really happy to be just one of the faculty now, that the students know me and like me. Especially now that there is another 'new guy' in the department. It's nice for someone else to come to ME for advice.

Weird thing about New Guy is that he did his B.A. and M.A. here before he went elsewhere to do the PhD. So, really, he knows more about this place than I do. When we left the office yesterday to head to another building for the all-university-faculty meeting, I had no idea where we were going (still, after a year!) and he knew exactly where to go.

But in terms of the depsrtment, the personalities, the tenure stuff, I've got more info than him, so he actually asks me questions.

And the best part: he's a nice guy, pretty cool, and a huge film buff. But he's a theory-guy, not a filmmaker, so I don't feel any pressure or competition. I think we'll get along well.

Awkward Silence

I have nothing to say. I mean, I have stuff to say, but some things are best kept private. So I'm not saying that stuff.

Postproduction is just getting started, and I'm stressed about that. And classes start Monday, and I'm stressed about that. Having a fight with my wife about amount of time I spend on work vs. family, and the stress from that kinda trumps everything else. I can't work when my personal life is not functioning properly.

Wait, didn't I say I was going to keep that private?

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

What can I say -- I've been busy!

Really busy. Classes start next week, and after the film ended, I took off for a week. Got back and had to get into the whole class prep thing. One new class, two heavily revised. Then one of those gets cancelled for technology reasons (we weren't able to get the equipment to teach it). It is replaced with a graduate seminar. My first grad course as a prof.

I'm doing that whole "need to prep, want to surf the internet, no I really need to review the texts, well maybe after reading this one thing" thing. So, not getting much done. Almost have my syllabi ready. For my directing course, I'm team teaching a section with a senior acting class from the theater department. So we met today and decided to just take the first few sessions as they come. In other words, no great need to prep. Which makes me nervous, but hey, one less thing to prep, right?

In my screenwriting course, I'm going to start out the semester with less lecture and more creative writing exercises. There's a good learning-oriented reason for that, but it also gives me less prep.

In my grad seminar, it's all about postproduction. And you'll recall I just shot this feature film... so guess what my grad students are going to be editing? Yes, we'll be exploring the role of the editor in working with a director. I need to do some research on that, but I'm being lazy. But really, we're going to do it as an extended role-play, with them acting as editor and me acting as (what else) director, so they have to understand my vision and then cut the film (and hopefully bring their own creativity to it).

Speaking of the film: I find out, while I'm out of town, that my co-writer actually BASED THE LEAD CHARACTER ON A REAL PERSON AND NEVER TOLD ME! Yes, I am shouting. He also changed the name by only one letter. Now, the real person was a crazy loon, possibly also homeless (which is why, you know, he made for such an interesting character)... and really, very little of the character in the film was actually based on him. At the most, you could say he 'inspired' our character. But still, we just HAVE to change the name now, to be careful. And the character's name is in the film's title, and is also part of the web address, and on the cast and crew shirts. Hell, this just pissed me off, if you can't tell.

But, you know, it'll probably all work out okay. Nevertheless, I just can't believe that someone wouldn't know that was a significant detail and needed to be addressed. Maybe I've been involved with the film industry so long I just assume people will know that. But I ask you, those of you who go to movies but don't make them, is this a reasonable assumption on my part, or should I have asked this specific question? (I know I SHOULD have, but is it reasonable to assume someone would mention this fact?)

As my father used to say, this too shall pass.

Friday, August 05, 2005


Did a little research tonight and found that several major fests have deadlines in early and late fall. So if we are going to have a shot at Sundance, for example, we have only until Sept 30th to get a rough cut done. I don't know if that's realistic, but I plan to try.

I will be away for a week, so probably no blogging because I won't have good access while I'm away.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

It is finished....

We wrapped at 4:30pm in the afternoon today, Wednesday, August 3rd. Principal photography is complete. There were hugs and applause all around, but I admit it was a little anti-climactic -- I just felt like I didn't know what to do with myself.

But it was good -- the footage is good, and I am pretty sure we will be pleased in post. Wrap party tonight!

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

The Martini

The martini is Hollywood parlance for the final shot. Tomorrow, we will finish principal photography on my first feature film, and I can't believe it is already over, or that I am so tired. It's not really physical exhaustion. I AM physically tired, of course -- very tired.

But my primary exhaustion is mental. A director has to make so many decisions -- nearly every decision. And working with students, a director needs to be even more vigilant, because they have enthusiasm, but do not always understand their roles or your vision (but then, no one really does understand that vision like the director does).

I have rushed when I wish I had demanded more time, and I question the coverage I have on many scenes. On the other hand, there is genuinely funny and touching material here, not only in the writing, but from what I've seen of the dailies, much of it is showing up on screen, enhanced by terrific, heartfelt, and hilarious performances.

I am excited and apprehensive about postproduction. I don't know what to think. I don't know how I will have the proper time to edit this beast. But I really think, having seen some of the footage edited together in rough form by one of my student editors, that we have something special on our hands here.