Wow. What a day.
Today I shot the first shooting assignment given to me. We were all put into groups of five and, very fortunately for me, the other four are cool, definitely got a rapport going on there ... even though I'm the odd one out - girlfriend-less, car-less, non-American. The other great thing is that all our projects were quite different, indicating that we all think rather differently. For me I stick to my usual self - out to make a huge statement about something, doing something dramatic.
The shoot went well - I anticipated 2 hours, did it in 75% of that time. Still, it wasn't easy to be concentrating on both handling the camera - some fancy camerawork there - and directing the actors. I cannot multitask - so, often I knew what I wanted to say to the actors at the point I saw them in a bit, but then forget instantaneously what I wanted to say a second later, so I'm left with nothing to say at the end of it except, 'err', 'hmm', 'well' ... So it was definitely right, what the producing instructor said (who's quite the asshole, jerk, whatever the stereotypes of producers are ... except that many among my class liked him because of his down to earth nature) - that the person who starts to hyphenate or wear double hats will hurt the picture. In fact I did try to separate the director from the camera operator - I wanted to grab another camcorder and use it as a monitor of sorts, but for various technical reasons I wasn't able to do so.
Still, interesting shoot. It also exposes my complete lack of technical talents on the camera. But I already knew that.
Then we went out for dinner (at 4 pm, hah). Went to this diner place that looks like it belongs in the 70s. Food was not bad though - sweet potato for fries, interesting, but worked surprisingly well.
Then I went to the AFI Fest screening of The History Boys, a British play adapted for the big screen - but remaining a theatrical film, one that still contains theatrical devices and literary dialogue. It was great - brought tears to my eyes, partly for similar reasons as I explained in The Queen, partly because it brought me back to England, as near literal as that is possible. (Something the Film Gym instructor calls the dream mode ... that when we watch really great films, we are physically reacting to it, whether it is fear or hatred or humour, even though we are not there physically but our body responds in like manner.)
The film touches on education, specifically through dialogues on the subject of History - what is it, how it is determined - a rather philosophical undertaking. Through that is debated, at least in an underlying sense, whether we have "lost the soul in the teaching in the chase for results and efficiency and passing of exams". Intercut are major strands of ideas on sexuality, particularly pedarasty (in the erotic sense, yes), which is a subject I never thought would be explored on film ... in fact it wasn't, it took a play to spur that on. And let me say this - the melancholic nature of homosexuality here touched me much more than anything Brokeback Mountain ever did for me. Also, at some point, Frances de la Tour broke out into a tirade (a rather fun one, coz it's theatrical language) about men and history and how women were shoved aside, ignored, invisible. It seemed out of place, as there was no warning for it nor any discussion thereafter - but it was fun, who cares.
Ultimately, great acting throughout the film. The boys were certainly great - they've "rehearsed" it over the course of a year doing the play, mind you. It also helps that they're mostly good-looking, particularly the principal ones, and not entirely inappropriate with the subject of homosexuality explored. Frances de la Tour was great as the one who observes and comments; Richard Griffiths, whom I did not understand prior to watching the film why he was selected to play this role, played the eccentric one wonderfully and in a way that made me understand his selection; while Stephen Campbell Moore, whom I first saw at Bright Young Things, played the one who seems simple from the outside but very much complex on the inside ... precisely, exactly.
How Good I Think The Film Is: 8/10
How Much I Like The Film: 9.5/10
At What Point Did I First Look At My Watch: Never
Oscar Noms That It Deserves: Best Adapted Screenplay
And basically, after that was a Q&A session, where the audience who asked questions spent like half their "question" complimenting the director about blah blah blah (the usual stuff) before asking the damn question (if in the future I am the director sitting in the spotlight, I shall establish a rule and ask the audience to forego that or just keep it simple, in one sentence). After the Q&A, I thought I should talk to one of those people in attendance, the director Nicholas Hytner and four of the cast. Besides, they're British, and that brings a sense of familiarity to me. And also, it's supposed to be an assignment - how Hollywoody is that ... but honestly, that really isn't the point to talk to people. (I certainly realise that now. I reminded myself ... wait, let me get to the point ...)
Anyway, so I walked past the actors, and didn't talk to them, still scared. Yes, I was really scared. No, these people aren't Tom Hanks or Ridley Scott, but still, I felt scared talking to them. I cannot explain it, so don't ask. So I walk down the stairs, and I see Mr Hytner right in front of me, but next to him is his assistant, or agent, or someone like that. So I continued down, and he goes out - and no one notices him. So I followed, walked out, and ...
... walked past him towards the edge of the street, stood there, looked back a few times, and this went on for about 5 mins (which is agonisingly long under those circumstances), and then walked back into the cinema, then came back out the same way ...
... and said, 'Hi, you're Mr Hytner?'
And so I talked.
And he was quite willing to talk, of course. I asked a few questions, mostly coz I wanted to keep the conversation going ... plus, gosh, it's so good to talk to someone British again - no more 'totally', 'awesome', 'that rocks', etc. He was nice, I try not to be too gushing (read: idiotic sounding). And then I said thank you and walked away, just as a guy comes along to usher them off.
And my heart was still pounding a little, walking my way back home. But I was elated.
And I reminded myself, never get business cards. Never. (Not unless the fellow offers it to you.) If you need to and if you finally got into this business, you will be able to find everyone, with some effort, and when you do and you finally call the person up, you will be able to say, phew, finally managed to track you down. You do that because you really want to talk to them. Not to ask favours, not to ever, ever have these words spew out of your mouth - "hey, first of all I'd like to say that your last film was wonderful ... oh, how is your son now, I heard he was ..." and so on. Or something else as fucking superficial as that.
Be annoying, for it is good!
3 days ago