Wednesday, September 28, 2005


well, we made the deadline. the package to sundance was fed ex'd today. cross your fingers or say a prayer, if you're so inclined.

in other news, one of our lecturers resigned today, two weeks notice, which seems crazy in academia, but considering that he didn't get a contract til two weeks into the term, i can't say that i blame him. and given that situation, he's been looking elsewhere because he's sick of sweating out whether or not he'll have a job every semester. i am hoping this will be a wake up call for the admin regarding the pay and treatment of lecturers.

hey -- i maanaged to get that out with a straight face.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

weird feelings

so the rough cut of the film is almost done. the cutting itself is actually done. sound is still VERY temp, but the film looks and sounds good enough to submit as a 'rough cut' submission. and we're going to fed-ex it tomorrow to sundance. and next week i am going to send it to slamdance, too.

and i'm pretty sure the film is good. but i have no clue right now. and i've been thinking all along -- this is a good film, people will like this film. but right now, i don't know.

the editor asked me what i thought about our chances at sundance. i had no answer. of course it's a ridiculous longshot. we know no one and don't have major stars. we have a ridiculously small budget and didn't shoot on film. so there's a lot working against us.

and i don't want to get my hopes up. i really don't. but i say that all the time, and i always end up doing it anyway.

i realize, of course, that sundance is just one festival. it's not the whole world. but it is sundance. i guess getting that email or phone call that i've gotten into sundance would validate my career on a level i can't imagine.

so i'm kind of all over the map today. i just feel glad about the film nearing completion, but torn about whhat to expect. i do get my hopes up, but i also get really down on myself and have come to expect rejection, because it comes so much and so often in this business.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Jury Duty

in the midst of trying to get the cut done and keep up with my classes, i got called for jury duty. i was actually called for this summer, when we had just wrapped shooting and i had to go out of town. so i got it delayed til today.

went in, sat there for an hour waiting on things to happen. i'll tell you, i am no elitist. but i was astonished at the sheer stupidity of some of the people sitting around me. scary. and they wouldn't stop talking. and lady behind me? you, with the cough and the really loud voice? no one would have minded you staying home and claiming illness.

so when i finally reported to the court to which i was assigned, i learned that the case (a DUI) was postponed because the arresting officer had been assigned out of the area briefly and was thus unavailable. so we were out of there by 10:15am. i was all prepared to do my civic duty, but i admit i didn't mind having time to get some work done today.

the sundance cut is about done. one hour and forty five minutes (and change) and looking and (mostly) sounding good. i might just take a deep breath sometime soon.

Friday, September 23, 2005


i didn't get the fellowship. one of twelve finalists for five slots and i didn't get it. that certainly lifts your spirits. yes, i was a finalist. but somehow, i still feel like i just suck. i'm so tired ot almost winning things. damnit.

in other news: the sundance deadline looms. my goal is to have the film in the mail on wednesday. i plan to fedex it, hoping for it to arrive on thursday because the drop dead arrival deadline is friday.

i worked til 6:30pm tonight with the editor, refining the cut. yesterday, it was bloated, plodding two-hours-and-twenty-something minutes. today, it's much a leaner one-hour-forty-eight minutes. it's still longer than it should be for a comedy. i'd love for it to be ninety minutes, no longer than one-hour-forty-minutes. but at this point, any cuts would be rushed and we wouldn't have time to really consider them. so we're going to do a little tinkering tomorrow and probably lock picture (for now -- it's just the festival entry rough cut).

we also have to leave some time for sound work. we can submit with temp sound, but we need to fine tune some of it so it doesn't sound crappy. so there's still some real work to do. but i think we're going to make it, barring some catastrophic equipment failure or something.

of course, that's just to enter it. we still have to get selected. a long shot, at best. we have no stars to speak of, no names at all really, no connections, no budget, and it's a mock documentary. i don't think there are too many things working in our favor -- it's basically down to simply how good the film is. i hope it's good enough.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Fifth Sentence Meme


1. Go into your archive.

2. Find your 23rd post (or closest to).

3. Find the fifth sentence (or closest to).

4. Post the text of the sentence in your blog along with these instructions.

"Thing is, I don't know how to read these things."

(via many places, Academic in Exile, ProfGrrrl, and others.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005


still trying to finish the film for sundance. we're very close to finishing the rough cut, but the film is going to go over two hours (how much over, i have no clue). but even two hours is too long. so the question is: do we lop off some scene that is funny but irrelevant to the plot (mindful of the fact that i only created the 'plot' to allow me to explore what these bizarre characters would do next)? or do i try, before the deadline, to do a major overhaul, re-arranging and trimming and massively cutting some scenes down to much shorter versions? or some combination of both?

Co-Writer questioned today whether it's worth the effort to enter sundance is the cut doesn't work. and i don't disagree. but i'm just not sure how much can get done between now and next wednesday.

a lot, i hope.

in other news, i had my phone interview tonight for that fellowship. an hour long phone conversation during which i (probably) rambled a lot about my 'art' and tried to connect their questions in some way to my work and experiences. it's hard -- sometimes the question is just something you never thought about, or never tried to articulate, and suddenly you have thirty seconds to think of an answer, talking to complete strangers (three of them) who you can barely hear because they're on a conference call, and none of whom you've ever met or spoken to before!

but, all in all, i was pleased with my performance, other than that little thing i get in these situations, where i pace (i always do this on the phone) and my heart races (beause i'm nervous) and i have to try to speak without sounding out of breath because of the heart-racing thing.

it was, in truth, more nerve-wracking to me than my last job interview (when i got this job). i guess with a day or two-day long job interview, you settle in and get comfortable, to a degree, after a while. but with a phone conversation, you never get that chance. it's just nerve-wracking the entire time.

but at least it's over quicker. and you don't have to go through airport security.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

some more (almost) good news

i applied for a sort of fellowship in screenwriting. it's a year-long program, where they pay you $10,000 and you attend four different sessions spaced out through the year.

well, the news is that i received a phone call on friday to inform me that i am one of 12 finalists for the fellowship (i actually think they give 5 of them, so my odds aren't bad). i have to have a phone interview next week. (so, the 'almost' in my title refers to the fact that i haven't actually won anything just yet).

i'm excited and pleased, obviously. this kind of thing could have a pleasant impact on my industry career, and i think it will help with regard to tenure as well (and it's also nice to have something good happen near the start of my second year on the tenure track, since i had some good stuff happen in year one).

in other news: i need a haircut, but i couldn't get an appointment today. i hate getting haircuts. i like having had my hair cut, but i hate making the appointment, sitting in the chair, etc. so it takes all my energy to make the call to try to get an appointment. and i called, and my regular person isn't in today. so i now i have to do that all again, mid-week, when i never have time to break away. oh well. if that's the hardest thing that happens this week, i'll have an easy week.

Friday, September 16, 2005


so, how to keep this anonymous and still share some news...

some visual effects guys from a fairly major production company (think: released a couple of big releases this past year) were in town and speaking to classes in the department.

during their tour of our facilities, Senior Prof showed them (among other things) a few edited minutes of my film.

I wasn't there (how did i miss this, you ask? i had to watch Baby TerminalMFA while TerminalMFA-Spouse went to a doctor appointment). anyway, i got reports from several fronts that the visual effects guys were laughing a lot and that one asked if he could get invited to our premiere.

which presumes we'll actually get to have one. kidding. we were going to have a small one anyway. but if we can get some people out here from this company, it would be a big coup.

and it was nice to hear that our little film made with no money might somehow attract some attention from major companies, given the right circumstances.

(this would have seemed way more impressive if i could tell you the actual company involved. really.)

Monday, September 12, 2005


The film isn't done yet. Quite a bit of editing to go. But it's now officially entered in the Sundance Film Festival.

Quirk of the Sundance entry system - the late deadline is September 30th (that's the date we're targeting). But to submit late, you have to enter in their online system by the regular deadline, then send your film in by the late deadline with a check or money order for the late fee.

This, of course, means that if you DON'T finish the film on time, you're out fifty bucks.

Not that any of this means anything. As the producer said, it's kind of like registering a script with the Writers Guild. It doesn't mean anything, but it feels good when you do it. It feels official.

But we still have to finish the film. About two weeks to go. No pressure or anything.

Saturday, September 10, 2005


when did i stop using capital letters on my blog? i just noticed my last few posts didn't use them, but i had been using them previously.

Friday, September 09, 2005

getting my hands dirty

i feel like being articulate and engaging tonight. i feel like writing something witty about politics, world issues, the meaning of life. i feel like it. but i'm me. since college i've wanted to have something significant to say. but since i don't feel like i do, i content myself with trying to entertain. being funny, being provocative (i'm talking about my films and my writing here, not how i am in public; though, now that i type that, i'm not so sure i'm not talking about both).

do i have anything to say worth hearing? is my work shallow and insipid? maybe. but at least it's funny. (the comedies, anyway).

the title of the post refers to the fact that i finally sat down in the edit suite today and did a little editing. the film's editor has been handling the 'hands on' editing, following my instructions and continual comments and notes on his edit. but today, after viewing his second attempt to cut a particularly challenging scene and being completely disappointed by both (most of his cutting has been great; this was an anomaly), i went in and worked on it myself a little.

i spent three hours editing that scene (mostly to my satisfaction) and tweaking several other things. and while i do think i cracked that scene, i mostly enjoyed just getting in there and doing some of the hard work myself. felt good. felt like i was 'swinging the bat' again after a long layoff. i was stymied by trying to remember some of final cut pro's quirks (i haven't worked with it in over a year, because since i've been teaching i haven't had any projects to edit), and i find it particularly difficult to come in and edit on someone else's project (it's my film, but the editor has set up the final cut pro project, organized all the video and audio files, music, etc., so it's often hard to locate something specific).

but man, it felt good to take my film into my own hands. and, at the same time, i wonder if doing so is dangerous. directors need editors. maybe if i had the budget money to hire an experienced editor, i would feel like i could do that. but i think i'm going to have to keep a tight leash on the editor because, while he's got innate talent and good instincts, he falters on the basics sometimes.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

i hate computers

no, i don't. i like them. i'm a bit of a tech geek, actually. not enough of one to put together and program computers on my own, but enough to know how to operate my system pretty well. a low level power-user, i suppose.

but the edit systems are driving me crazy. we're editing the film on final cut pro, which i love. the editor, a heavily tech-savvy student, is shuttling back and forth between the department's HD edit suite, which isn't always available, and a borrowed powerbook, using a 200 GB external drive to carry the foootage and the cut.

but the external drive keeps losing its connection with the various computers on which he's editing, so the footage won't show up, and the projects won't show up, and the drive asks to be reformatted (i.e., delete everything on it!).

so, the problem is likely solvable (is that a word?) -- but the need to solve it is creating problematic delays.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Ho hum Friday

I'm talking to my writing students on Monday about theme. I have found one of the things missing from undergrad writing student work is any real sense of what their stories are about, and a corresponding inability to tie everything together. Now, admittedly, a lot of that stuff will come together in rewrites (if they every get to that point). But the point needs to be made.

They have three scripts I assigned them to read (some of you may remember me soliciting advice on which scripts to use back in April, I think (lazy alert: I'm not going to go look up the post right now). We already talked about theme in class, and now they're supposed to tell me in class what the theme of each script is, and they're supposed to back it up with evidence from the script (characters, plots, dialogue, etc.)

So my prep for this class session is to review the scripts and do the same thing myself. But I'm just struggling today and not feeling like doing it. So I've done a little bit to spur discussion, but I'm relying (naively, I imagine) that some of them will be prepared enough to really discuss this.

That's probably a stupid thing to do. But, whatever. I am getting much better at winging it in class when it comes to creative material.

Plus, I'm supposed to meet with the editor of the film to review some more scenes today, and my mind is on that (I always get uptight, in part because he's a student and there's some inexperience at play there, but also in part because the footage only works if I shot it well. So ultimately, if it isn't working, it's all on me).

In other news: I submitted my application to the department chair today for a summer sabbatical. She had advised me not to submit this year because, she said, she was told they're not looking to give them to 2nd year faculty right now. But, upon some other advice, I decided to go ahead and apply. I'm basically asking to be paid while I work on a new screenplay this summer (instead of teaching, which is far from guaranteed because of low enrollment these days). It only took me a few hours to put together the application.

I have no idea what my chances are. Creative work isn't too well understood or esteemed in academia, so I don't imagine they'll feel they need to pay me to do it. People tend to think creative writing is without pressure. And while I used to be able to write in any circumstance, lately I've found that it's very difficult to concentrate on a work with constant interruptions. Having three kids makes this hard at home. At school, my creative energy is constantly diverted to classes, students, and other tasks. So I really could use the sabbatical to work on this. And an extra 20% of my regular salary would be nice for the summer. As things stand now, summer pay is the only way I seem to be able to save any money.