Home Stretch for First 16mm Film
The 508 semester at USC Film school

#10 in a series of 16

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

Fade up & zoom in.

Wendy's film, titled Liliana, screens this Saturday (28th). No classes the rest 
of this week, as students focus on finishing their 16mm projects. 

Audio is all that remains. Wendy is editing her own soundtrack (at USC) every 
day/night. She hates working with Mag tape. After working with digital audio 
(on her PC), Mag tape is tedious. It kills the creative flow. She says, "You just 
want to get the tracks on there & be done. It's not even fun" It takes forever 
to do even the simplest things. 

The soundtrack is pieced together roughly, except for the scoring sessions, 
with her
composer + guitarists. The recording session will take place tomorrow 
at the Steven Spielberg Scoring Stage. 

The sound should be easy to wrap up, once she has the (scored) music track. 
Sound has always been one of her strengths .. but she's always edited

She has 7 tracks of audio to mix - the max allowed. Editing with Mag tape, you're 
only able to hear two audio tracks at a time. So you can never be sure how your 
final project will sound. (You can also see the video track.) 

Friday is mix day, the last day before the screening. No time to recover if 
something goes wrong. 

With digital audio, she can hear +
edit an unlimited number of tracks (at the same 
time). The only downside to editing digitally is the time it takes to capture the files, 
putting the on the hard drive. Once they're there, she's free, in Creative Nirvana.


There is a great digital vs analog debate. The argument goes something like this: 
With film (analog), you put more thought into everything you do, including each 
cut you make. 

The logic is that, besides co$ting more, if you screw up, or decide your last cut 
doesn't work quite how you planned, or if you simply change your mind, there's 
no magic Undo button .. like you have with digital. 

Cut+paste is much easier than cut+splice. Analog/film adds a soberness to filmmaking, 
because each poor decision (shots, cuts) is accompanied by a more painful penalty.

Question begging to be asked are: 

1. Does digital's ease-of-use mean an editor will put less thought into each decision? 
2. Does putting more thought into each decision make a person more creative?
3. Does digital technology hinder or enhance creativity? 

The old school forms the majority of those in the analog camp. There's a whole 
industry of people who learned and know analog. Digital threatens an end to their 
way of life
.. or, at least, threatens to put them on the steeper slopes of the digital 
learning-curve, which can be intimidating for those who think in analog terms.

Most alarming for them is how rapidly digital technology is accelerating, riding a 
powerful wave of bang-for-your-buck appeal. Only recently (the last decade) has 
digital technology moved with any force into audio & video, offering filmmakers an 
increasingly attractive alternative. Digital technology promises to make cinema 
less dependant upon finances.

What Wendy is painfully aware of is that digital technology allows the filmmaker to 
accomplish much more, much more quickly, for far less money, and perhaps most 
importantly, it allows the artist to stay in the creative flow better than analog 
technology. She can try (and undo) 20 things digitally in the time it takes to do 
 with analog. 

USC seems to be pushing digital technology. 


Wendy signed up for next semester's classes. 3 major options/paths at USC:

She's wants to major in Film. She's most jazzed about the idea of working on a big 
feature, where she'd have more time to plan each shot & cut. 

The Interactive media field is wide open .. for those who want to blaze new trails. 
She already has a good deal of experience with digital technology, but feels it's 
still be too early to commit to a purely digital focus. 

Things in digital technology change fast. Knowledge becomes obsolete overnight. 
She doesn't want to pour tons of time & energy into something that may ancient 
history before the ink on her diploma dries. She's heard that people with Italian 
leather checkbooks await graduates with a background in that area.

She had a (undergrad) class based around Macromedia
Director, and came away 
unimpressed and disappointed. She felt she could've got the same information 
from working thru a tutorial (at home), and not had to pay USC tuition for it. 
(We have Director v8.0.) 

Television is supposed to be lucrative field, but it doesn't excite her as much as 
Film does. She's willing to work hard to get what she wants. But, if Film is a dying 
dinosaur, she doesn't want to jump in with both feet. 

Her strategy is to pursue Film, while keeping a foot in the doorway to 
Interactive New Media
(take a few classes). Ultimately, she hopes she'll 
be able to synergistically combine her knowledge from both fields.

Film is USC's strongest suit. First Look is an event where industry heavyweights 
view USC student films. One student asked the administrator if there was a First 
for Interactive new media. He replied, "Well, you could send a CD of your work 
to a company". That did not go over well.


Wendy had her cast party last Thursday night, at El Cid restaurant in Hollywood 
(Sunset blvd). It used to be recording studio. She treated her cast to a Flamenco 
show (her film contains Flamenco
dancing). She wanted to do something special for 
them, more than beer + pizza. They've become like family. She loves the way they 
understand her, her characters, & her story. 

She got tipsy (2 margaritas). She'd been holding everything in while finishing the 
film. It didn't take much for her to cut loose. She wanted to go out dancing with 
Zarena & Zarena's friend after leaving El Cid, but I squashed that idea.

I met people that I'd only heard about, like
Lejla. I expected her to look older. 
She looks you deep in the eye when talking. Lejla brought along her sister, who's 
a Film school student at cross-town rival UCLA. 

Lejla's dad came along, too. He works in Japan, securing funds to help rebuild his 
war-torn country of Bosnia. Lejla's sister said, "You never think it could happen to 
your country. When we were growing up, we never had the slightest idea there 
would be a war." 

Lejla said, "Wendy is a nourishing director. She makes you want to give your best. 
She was rubbing my shoulders between takes. These other directors can kiss my 

The whole way home, Wendy said, "Did you hear what they said about me? They 
said I'm a nourishing director, that I make them want to give their best. The next 
time you write an update, I want you to put that in there." =)

Hector the horse trainer arrived first. Tan, athletic, strong, gracious. I couldn't help 
but hear the rumors flying across the table how Hector & Zarena would make a great 
couple. Hector has also worked selling boats & as a tennis pro. Boats, horses, tennis. 
I told him, "I think I see a pattern, Hector." =)

Lisa + Valerie (girl with the purple velvet couch) showed up next. When I met Valerie, 
I said, "I know you. I recognize you from a
video I saw last week on Atom Films - you're 
the person with the purple velvet couch." She laughed and said, "Two! purple velvet 
couches." She said the Atom Films video was screened at
First Look.

Little Judy showed up wearing an adorable white dress. She looked like a little princess. 
She sat between her mommy & daddy, and is even prettier in person than her

Zarena was there, too. She passed on tickets to the Latin Grammies to come to the 
cast party. It wouldn't have been the same without her, as she's the star. Zarena 
brought her girlfriend with her. It seems that all of Zarena's friends speak with a French 
accent .. or at least the ones I've met. 

We stood outside the restaurant afterwards, and talked for a hour. I overheard the 
girls planning to ride horses again. I told Hector how they got in trouble for riding the 
horses hard, and then bringing them back to the stables dripping. Hector said, "You're 
lucky they didn't keep your deposit." The
girls said, "But Hector, the horses wanted to 
run the whole time." (yeah, right)

Louie couldn't make it. It's a long drive from Santa Ana, and hard for him to be away 
from his grandbabies. We missed him.


Lisa is starting her 16mm project: The Love Manifesto. She doesn't want me to post 
her script yet, cuz it's not finished. She held auditions Sunday, and thinks she may 
already have her lead actress.

Lisa + Wendy had their first script conference for Lisa's film (with prof + TA). 
It's the first time the girls have seen the lighter side of
Helaine/prof. She was sick 
with a bad cold when classes first started. Only now is she finally feeling better. 

Helaine joked, "You can always tell which student just finished their movie & which 
is just starting, cuz one is smiling real big and the other is not." Wendy's feels that 
writing, producing & directing is much harder than shooting & editing .. altho she 
has yet to shoot & edit 16mm.

Fade to black.

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Work-print screening
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