Sunday, September 9, 2007

It Happened One Fortnight: My First Two Weeks as A Columbia Film Student

My Orientation week at Columbia was great (and happened more than a week ago--but hey--I am slow with these things). I didn't much like the film we screened on the very first day called "The Hunting Party"--but the talk-back with director Richard Shepard was very valuable--and I admire any effort to shoot in a foreign country--especially Eastern Europe and recently war-torn Serbia-Croatia. Anyway--this isn't a film review--only I will say that I am glad to be a bit older and wiser (though I have much still to learn)--making this move to NYC and I can form my own opinions, learn what I need to from situations, and determine for myself if I wish to accept a filmmaker's message or not. In this case, I sensed a certain lack of sincerity with a subject that requires much sincerity--and the authentic messenger I learned so much about from my dear friend Jeff Parkin didn't seem very present in that film.

...Moving on--they divided us into groups so we could get to know one another better. There was an interesting mix, and I was glad to get to know them. A girl whose parents are Turkish but she was raised here, another woman from Japan who has spent 8 years in Scotland and speaks with quite the accent, a man who spent 3 years on Broadway in Les Miserables, hurt his back and is now pursuing a film career, and an ex-journalist who was a screenwriter in LA before trekking to NYC to improve on those skills. We had a lot of fun getting to know one another and I felt fortunate to be with a group that was diverse, interesting, and all down to earth.

It was decided after day 1 when Brecken met us for lunch at a restaurant on Broadway and 102nd callled Mama Mexico that Reuben should be cast in our film--not my idea--and that we should shoot at our apartment--my idea, but for Reuben's sake. We came up with a quirky and farsical little piece that we felt would play to the audience as pretty much a throw away film--but at least it has a cute baby in it. When we screened the film (after having 2 days to shoot and edit)--the biggest and most sustained laugh we got was after the closing credits--you'll see why. Please click below to watch it....

On the last day of orientation after Reuben's (and my) NYC premiere--I went to the welcome party at Havannah Central on Broadway--a quaint restaurant/bar (no smoking!)--that is decorated like old Havannah with the wooden shutters, ceiling fans, and intricate molding. I ate some Cuban food--talked to a few people from the film program and met a nice Kentucky-born professor, and since only the alcohol was free to drink, I decided I saw who I needed to see and I came home to my babies. I'll have to get used to this social networking part of it all--ahhhh well. At least my walk to and from school and most meeting places is a quick 9-15 minutes (I timed it).

Week 2 was the first week of classes--I am taking this great class called Auteur Study: Billy Wilder--from Andrew Sarris--yes google his name--he is one of the original critics that wrote about the auteur theory--knew Truffaut (and many others) personally and, despite being very old and bent over, he has a wealth of knowledge to share. I love Billy Wilder. Directing, Screenwriting, Directing the Actor, Elements of the Narrative, and Role of the Producer, Fundamentals of Film (basically Film Shorts--we are going to watch 70 total this year). All great classes--great professors--great stories, and a gold mine of experiences and projects to help me grow as an artist! I love it! Oh, and I have to watch movies weekly for homework and subscribe to the Weekly Variety. I tell you--it is pure suffering I go through.

Wednesday I got great news--I got a job as a lab monitor for the Digital Media Center--good flexible hours and it fulfills my workstudy! And--I get to work at sweet Mac editing stations and help people figure stuff out--I ain't complaining.

And--as a part of the Carla Kuhn Screening Series this week we watched a great film called La Misma Luna (Under the Same Moon)--the director was present to discuss it--a woman from Mexico named Patricia Riggen--it was moving, sincere, and very skillfully done--I loved it! It was a contrast to the film we saw our first day--and I could tell that the director's heart and soul were in this project--this makes all the difference--and such a powerful loved story between mother and child, and an educational look at the terrors of immigration today--see this when it is released in March!!!! A good end to a good week--and I hope there are many more!!! Well gente, that about does it for my adventures in film this time. Tune in when I next get the gumption to post...

(The file was too big to load, we will work on getting it up soon.)

3 comments:

Tammy said...

Justin, I don't need to google Billy Wilder (or Andrew Sarris for that matter)... I know who they are! And I know all about the Auteur Theory... I should be at columbia! *sigh* Then you could say that your groupmates are the girl with Turkish parents, the confused Japanese/Scott, the injured ex-Broadway guy, the ex-jornalist/screenwriter AND the weird Aussie girl who loves NYC and is always trying to get you to babysit Reuben so she can go to the movies with your wife.

:)

So do you ever think about what they call you on THEIR bloggs? The ex-Utah mormon guy from Hell, New Mexico perhaps?

:D

I'm so glad you're having such a good time at school! Remember to send me the lists of films and books!

ciao,
Tammy.

JoJo &/or Bob said...

I want to see the film!!! :)

We really do need to get together sometime, since we're both relatively close. Ahh, the East Coast. Different, eh?

Jana Winters Parkin said...

Fabulous photo of all three of you! I LOVE it. We miss you already. Hearing about your New York adventures makes me happy and jealous at the same time. Jeffy and I are trying to come visit NY some time this fall. (I promise we won't stay at your house!)

Squeeze Reuben for us...

Love, Jana