Script-lock & First Dailies
The 508 semester at USC Film school

#3 in a series of 16

Lights, camera, action! .. at USC Film school

Fade up & zoom in.

Wendy has script-lock. No more changes can be made to her script. If profs didn't 
set a date for script-lock, students would continue revising their scripts, even after 
shooting began.

The entire class saw everyone's test-shoot footage. In cinematic lingo, they call this, 
"viewing the dailies." Wendy's footage came out good. The backlit scrim/veil footage 
was a bit over-exposed, cuz they took light readings at wrong place (scrim vs camera). 
But even that came out good. Footage of the dancer's footwork came out perfect. 

Students get only a small amount of film for their test shoot (3 mins worth), but it takes 
all day to shoot. They may re-shoot the over-exposed scrim shot if they have extra film 
remaining at the end of the project (not likely).

Wendy said the stuff shot by Luke was gorgeous. She told Luke's partner, Keith, how 
lucky he was to have Luke as partner. Luke is from Canada - short, thin. Wizard with 
the camera. One of the best cinematographers in the class. 

Wendy asked Luke to partner with her for 508, but he turned her down, and partnered 
with Keith instead .. cuz Keith is into SciFi, and Luke wanted to do something SciFi. 
They may want to repeat something like George Lucas' famous student film THX-1138
Wendy said Luke's stuff looked better than THX-1138.

I asked Wendy if Luke & Keith's footage was better than hers & Lisa's. She said, 
"Theirs was more masculine - hard angles, space-age stuff .. while ours was more 
feminine - softer, dreamy, dancing, dresses.

Students have been instructed to submit weekly journal reports to (only) Prof + TA. 
A private thing. Three categories:

1. How's your project going?
2. How are you doing?
3. How's things going w/ your partner?

Five questions per category. One of the questions is this:

Brief essay (1 page or so):

What has tugged at your sleeve to this point in your life? What has worried u most? 
pleased u? saddened u? outraged! u? given u joy unspeakable? What have been your 
concerns, dreams, obsessions, demons? What has made you pay attention? What 
have you tried most to ignore? 

What have been your turning points? What now feels most important, meaningful, 
fulfilling? What do you value most? Be specific, no generalities. Provide vivid images 
w/ fine details. Don't get bogged down w/ grammar. Write quickly! spontaneously! 
w/out self-judgment.


Fights between partners are legendary. Sometimes, a partnership will develop that 
lasts a lifetime .. but, more often than not, not.

Another person is affecting your art .. something dear & personal to the artist. 
Their bad shot, or bad cut, can make your film look like crap. It's easy to take 
things personally. Some partners never speak to each other again. Wendy & Lisa 
have an agreement to discuss things when problems arise.

Wendy says she doesn't expect Lisa to be perfect, & she tries to get Lisa to do more 
of the things she's does well. Nobody's good at everything. They seem to be getting 
along well. 

People who want to be a Director tend to have strong, opinionated personalities. 
Film school can be like putting 50 male betas in one tank.

From what I've seen, her classmates are people who have a strong desire to create 
their own reality. Cinema gives them this creative ability.


Looks like the rumors are true .. this semester is going to involve a lot of work. 
She's still discovering things she'll have to do this semester. I usually like to hear 
about what she'll be doing, but finally had to tell her, "Don't tell me anymore. 
You're making my head hurt." It seems to me that there's no way she'll be able 
to do everything she mentioned.

Wendy was up until 2:30 last night. She had to get up at 6 today. Can't do that 
for very long. We're on 2nd crock of root-rich, nuclear-grade beef stew already. 
I was gonna send a jar with Wendy for Lisa, but she is a vegetarian. 

After Wendy's movie is done, half way thru the semester, things should ease up 
a bit for her. That's when they'll be working on Lisa's film.

I'd list all the projects she has assigned, but it would make your head hurt. One 
bright spot is that Wendy is a Critical Studies major, which means she's already 
seen some of (weekly) movies they'll be req'd to view & write reports on .. for 
the History of Cinema class. 

This may give small advantage, but even as a C/S major, there are still a surprising 
number of classic movies she has yet to see. Our local Blockbuster does not have 
these obscure titles. She'll have to get them from the USC media library, or buy 
them at One title she saw at, was $89 (+ tax & shipping). 
USC media library, here she comes.

She has to fill out a detailed sheet for each individual scene. She has 25 scenes. 
Every imaginable detail is included. I heard her mumble, "What're they trying to do 
to us?"

Seems that making a movie, even a short one, involves almost constant, intense 
concentration, working out the finest details of your script, and coordinating its 
production. She has been in somewhat of a daze, last few days. I try to take care 
of basic stuff, like food, gas in car, so she can float more freely in the creative ozone.

Lani has gone back to UC Santa Cruz. Her sophomore year. First time with her own 
place (dorm last year). She just called to say they went shopping, bought groceries, 
& had their first meal at their new place. Says they're close enough to hear seals 
barking at night. Said she's gonna get dressed up and apply at 6 of the fanciest 
restaurants in Santa Cruz. Her classes start in 1-2 weeks. Getting settled in before 
school starts.

Wendy just got email from Michael Hoppe, who authored the CDs (among others), 
Poet and The Yearning - from which Wendy used songs in her films. She wrote to 
Hoppe and asked if she could use his (copyrighted) music in her movies. He said, 
"Send me a copy." Said he was going to England to do a CD for the Queen and 
would return in a few weeks. His follow-up reply:

Dear Wendy,

Have just returned from celebrations in UK for the Queen Mum (I was even on NBC!) 
to find your excellent film. I very much enjoyed your distinctive and sophisticated 
imagery, and the subtle use of the music. My congratulations. Most impressive!

I hope you will do more films and my music is always available whenever you want it.

Best wishes,

Fade to black.

Next -> First Primary Shoot
Previous -> First 16mm shoot

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