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Rob Zombie's
do sum f'n writin'

2002-02-04
sunday, february 3 -

We're about to begin a week-long intensive workshop on AfterEffects and Final Cut Pro. When I think about it, it's interesting that I can learn these things in a week-long intesive, or, at least, gather the introductory basics. I used to work with people who specialized in these two programs. I don't know if I should feel like all of the production business is a big sham, the way JSP was (that denver-based sham shack) or if I should feel more confident that I can make a living at this stuff somewhere because I don't consider these things to be that terribly difficult. I may be wrong. Or maybe i'm just coming into my own amongst a generation of whiz hackers who don't need specialized training to make this shit work.

When I used to look over Big T's shoulder at the Big Post House, I thought AfterEffects was some mystical wonder of computer programming that took an expert specialist to run. Not to say that Big T didn't have tons of natural creative talent (after all, it's not the tools, right?). But it seems anymore, thinking back to that time at the Big Post House, the biggest obstacles to my breaking into the local Portland industry was my own perceptions. More like misconceptions and attitude.

Thursday morning Isaac and I finished our short documentary about gender behavior. What had begun with grand illusions of a cast-of-dozens, multiple locations, expert testimony, interviews on the street and an academy award nomination dwindled to lock-down shots of Isaac and I talking about gender roles intercut with Sean and Erin at McMinnimen's on Hawthorn. I was very embarrased, although the class recieved it well.

It's easy to blame the work load and schedule we all kept for this project turning into what felt, to me, like a pathetic plea for people to like me. That's not what I meant, but that's how I interpret my face - ten feet tall on screen - talking about things I would never tell anyone who didn't already know. I can't say with any certainty what the fuck was going through my head while the camera was on me, but knowing I was under pressure to come up with something, I think i started saying things that sounded like meaty sound bytes but really had no context anywhere.

I have to say I'm really glad I worked with Isaac on this one. he totally saved the project in the editing room. We sat together for 15 hours locked in a basement suite. While I drove the computer, it was he who pulled all the material together. I have to say I never would have been able to remember snippets of conversation and put them together the way he did. I almost felt bad about commanding the console, but I think our strengths balanced out. He has a beautiful mind and talking intensly with him over the last four weeks has really opened some places in my mind that i wasn't paying attention to before. but i wish he had more to say about his interests. the psychology of gender behavior roles was isaac's idea. mine was to explore the conflicts between opposing truths within that subject. that is, find out what men and women expect of each other and what we feel is expected of us and examine the conflict between those perspectives. The greatest disappointment was never arriving at any conclusion, or forming any cohesive opinion between us. Isaac could only ask questions, and, trying to take the film's "conversation" somewhere, I kept trying to answer them. In the end, it was me putting myself out in the middle of the film for examination, while he had almost nothing to add. For three weeks this went on. "what's this film about?" "what are we doing?"

The weekend before editing began (editing which hadn't been scheduled yet) I was in portland hoping to get some people on camera to talk about gender behavior roles. Jane was being her usual self-absorbed pissy queen. So I had her drop me off at Sean's. She sat in the car on her cell phone while I unloaded all the equipment.

Sean and Erin had already said they'd love to talk on camera. So we went to a bar down the street, sat at a well-lit table and let the tape fly. I wish I'd do that more often. Don't ask; just do it. No one had any problem with us shooting there. Of course, there were no studio lights, no cables or monitors. Thank gawd for wide-anlge lenses. After the screening, isaac said that the bar footage really saved the project. well, the bar footage was the project. Otherwise it was two jerks sitting around talking about (my) insecurities.

But all in all, like I said, it was well recieved. I was much more concerned about the entirety of the piece rather than my mental nakedness. would they hate it? would they have nothing to say? for some reason, when i think of critique i think of yulia talking about what she thinks. Maybe because she's the one person I always want to hear from.

...silence. that's the worst. You hear about performers dreading a dead audience; that's the worst thing that can happen at a screening. but it wasn't like that. (i have to add a side note: while isaac and i stood in front of everyone waiting for them to offer their collected thoughts, i caught sarah's eye, and held it for a moment while she flashed the most beautiful smile. i almost couldn't believe she was looking at me. holy christ! that was an intensly piercing smile. even now my heart is thumping. i really don't know where that came from, but it sure was nice.)

anyway, there was actually quite a bit of discussion during our critique. not about the question of gender roles, however. more about the construction of the piece.

Erin had done most of the on-camera talking at the bar. in the end it helped that she had so much to say, because it balanced the concentration of isaac and my male perspective. although i wish sean had spoken up more because he is the inspiration for most of my thoughts on how men and women treat each other. taping him in one of our great, late-night conversations was supposed to be my personal bearing in this project. But the most he had to contribute was a reenactment of Erin's farting. Not to sound disappointed; his hilarious characterization of erin's dainty fart fairies lightened the mood and got over very well with the crowd.

Sandy thought it was very interesting that, while the 'conversations" between isaac and i felt very raw, as kristi noted, the bar scene was completely constructed. I admitted, and i don't remember why, that almost nothing in the bar happened the way we cut it. i hope that doesn't bear too much on the subject matter, but i thought it was an intriguing contrast. I know I cut it well because people thought we had two cameras at the bar. that's some sly editing.

I could go on until your face was blue about how technically profecient I've become while working on this project. how to schedule; how to interview; how to set up the best camera angle and most intersting lighting, yada yada yada.



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