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.)


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?


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


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