Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Curse of Film School

So, I went outside a few minutes ago to check out the lunar eclipse (which, when I was a kid, seemed to be a big deal. What happened there?) and despite the chill, wandered around a little on the grassy part between the access road and actual Comm Ave. What I found cooler than the eclipse (because I'm that ego-centric) is that when my lights are on in my living room, you can actually see my film reels from the outside. I had never looked at my apartment from the outside at night with the lights on (because if I go out at night, I tend to turn the lights off, see?), but it is a pretty neat decoration that I'm betting very few people have. I wonder if anyone ever walks by and notices and thinks they are cool, too. Or if they think I'm some sort of budding filmmaker. Or if they think I'm an old coot who never throws anything away.

I'm certainly not a budding filmmaker. I was asked the other day by a professor where I went to school, and when I told him Emerson for film, he asked if it was film studies or actual filmmaking, and I had to admit filmmaking, even though I admitted to kind of hating the actual process of making films. The good thing was he agreed, and I was able to preserve some dignity that I mostly concentrated on screenwriting once I made my discovery (too late to really do much about that film degree, but whatever). The idea that people in the movie biz can film two scenes and call it a good day still baffles me, and let's not get into the fact that nearly half the film is made in post. I think the killer for me may have been the realization that most of the dialogue is looped in post-production, meaning all those great speeches and quotes I have memorized, with the perfect inflections in the speaker's voice to add to the tone of the work, are probably done months after the scene itself has been acted and the actor has had plenty of time to think about it. Somehow, it devalues the whole experience for me.

Screenwriting is the last part of movie-making that still has some purity to it; no green screens, no looping in post, no CGI. And I'm not a purist by any means, and I know there are still good indy movies out there (Believe me, not any faster or more enjoyable when it coems to making those), and that there's still plenty of creativity that goes into making movies, but still... Robert Rodriguez likes to point out that any Joe Schmoe with a computer and the right software could have made Grindhouse (After all, he did cast his dentist and his nieces in it) but that, to me, is almost part of the problem. I mean, just because I can sit on my ass in my apartment, edit some clips together, post it on Youtube and call it my opus, doesn't mean I should.

That is the curse of film school; I have taken the classes, read the texts, studied the greats, and now rarely can enjoy watching movies. I know too much (Don't believe me check out my facebook movie thing). I know how much money it takes, I know how much time is wasted each day on each set, I know where and how it should have gone, plot-wise, and I know that I would have made a terrible director. And I can't go back.

But I'll always have bad movies to enjoy.

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