for the Pitch
The 508 semester at USC Film school
#13 in a series of 16
Fade up & zoom in.
Wendy has been playing detective, asking around about
who she's teaming with, to 'pitch' for a film they hope to make next semester (546).
Wendy has heard nothing but good things about Tania. The consensus from her TA's
& other students is that Tania is one of the best filmmakers in her class. Everyone
seems to think she's certain to be one of the four students selected to direct a 546
film next semester (out of 10 pitching for the 4 available positions).
one of Wendy's classmates, worked with Tania over the summer. He congrat-
ulated Wendy on being selected by Tania to be her producer, and said, "Tania's great.
You're gonna love working with her."
Wendy's TA (Ed) told
her that Tania had also been
inquiring about her.
He told Wendy,
"I gave you two thumbs up."
It seems that reputation has suddenly become an important factor in determining
works with whom. Last semester (507), during the pairing process for 508, partner
selection criteria was primarily social. In other words, students were most concerned
with who likes who, who parties with with who, etc.
In the upper divisions, it seems that social alignment is no longer a key determinant
in deciding how students group together. In many cases, students grouping together
to make a film don't even know each other. Rather, filmmakers prefer someone who
"has their shit together," and someone who's willing to work hard. Personality takes
a back seat to competence.
Wendy's has a touch of a bug. The all-night shoots with Lisa
(some until 9AM) are
beginning to take their toll. Working all night long wastes for the next couple of days.
She has trendy dark circles under her eyes. Some shoots take place on the (cold)
It seems that Wendy has some degree of influence with Tania. If Tania gets selected
to direct her 546, Wendy may talk to her about an editing position for Lisa. Lisa is a
good editor, and works hard. Tho Wendy wishes Lisa would come to the shoots more
organized & prepared, change her mind less often, and get her some help on the shoots,
like she got for for Lisa during the shooting of Liliana. Yet despite a challenging semester,
and disagreements, they still love each other, and are committed to making the best
A pattern is developing. Last semester, Wendy made 5 movie shorts, all by herself.
This semester, she makes two movie shorts, with a partner (Lisa). Next semester
(546) she'll work with a dozen people, on a single film. The ability to work with others
and function as a team plays an increasingly important role as the students progress
thru the program.
The 546 pitch is this Monday. So, in the midst of shooting Lisa's film,
Manifesto (Fri/Sat/Sun), Wendy must also prepare for her part of the pitch. She's been
assigned a full plate. If Tania gets selected, Wendy will most likely spend her Xmas break
making preps to produce Tania's film.
Areas of responsibility have been
assigned for the pitch. Wendy will be in charge of
Location & Casting. Dennis, the other Producer, will handle Scheduling & Budget.
Wendy said he's been kicking butt. She's happy he's on the team.
Tania gave Wendy first pick of the areas she wanted to
handle. Director & Producers
pitch together (Tania, Wendy, Dennis) to a panel of 5 faculty members, headed by
Mary Jensen, the head of 546. The head of each 546 dept sits on the selection board.
One from Cinematography, one from Editing, one from Directing, one from Sound, and
Mary Jensen represents Producing. One student representative also sits on the selection
For the pitch, Tania put together a 4-pg
proposal. A copy will
be given to each member
of the selection panel. Wendy posted a copy of the proposal here.
Tania's script was written by a girl named Miriam Kim. There were two
under consideration. Tania selected the one written by Miriam. Wendy read both scripts,
& agreed that Tania made the correct choice.
The story is titled Dreaming
of Being Jane. The story's concept is not new, but the girls
hope to do it in a new way. Wendy is especially excited about the dream sequence.
Next semester's 546 film will be 12 mins long - much better than the 508's she's
on this semester, which are limited to 5 mins, much too short to develop a meaningful
Wendy heard from TAs & other students that the
biggest negative to making a 546 is
that profs get too involved, and can ruin the movie. Tania & Wendy want to go into
the film with a well-developed plan, giving profs minimal opportunity to get involved.
Wendy feels a sense of serendipity with Tania. The whole thing
came together so easily
Tania took Wendy to the athlete's cafeteria (on
campus) for lunch last week. Wendy
has been at USC for 3 years, but didn't know about the cafeteria, which has better
and healthier food than the other places on/near campus. It surprised her that she
hadn't heard about the athlete's cafeteria before. Wendy says it's the best kept
secret on campus.
She told me, if her dad & brother were still alive, she take them both there for lunch,
cuz they're both huge USC footballs fans. They'd both love it. She wonders if her dad
(USC alumni, dentist) knew about it, or ever ate there .. if he ever sat in the chair she
Lisa's film is ~3/4ths done. They've shot 11 rolls. Only 2 remain. They might actually
be done shooting this weekend. If not this weekend, then Tuesday at the latest.
Next weekend is the official pick-up weekend, but Lisa will be out of town. Wendy
has edited all the footage developed so far.
This is a crunch weekend for Wendy. In addition to shooting Lisa's film
she also has to complete her part of the 546 pitch (by Monday). The pitch is expected
to last 20 minutes.
Wendy also has a 12-page script due Monday, that she hasn't started yet. (She'll
start today.) The prof for this class sent students little love notes (emails), saying,
"You've used all your excuses. I don't want to hear how you were on the set all
weekend. If your papers are late, they'll be graded a full letter lower." Wendy is
Speaking of stress, two days ago, while she was backing out of the driveway,
noticed her right-front tired was half flat. On closer inspection, I found a a nail.
She was in a hurry cuz she had to get to school by 5PM, to pick up the film for
a scheduled shoot, before the store closed. She was already running late. I
wouldn't let her take the car. She got mad, like it was my fault.
She wanted to put air in it at the gas station down the street, & fix it later. I said,
"There's no way you're driving that car to LA." Long story short, we had to take
everything out of her car (camera/lighting equipment) & put it in mine. She complained
the whole time. I could've saved her life, but she gave me nothing but grief. The next
day, I had four new tires put on her car.
During the long, weekend shoots, she's been staying at George's place, in Venice.
George, a friend of her brothers, and long time friend of the family, lives less than
2 blocks from Lisa's (v. convenient after shooting all night long).
She's gonna give George's girlfriend a
massage this weekend (in addition to all the
other things she has to do), to reciprocate for George being so hospitable.
Wendy just called to say she just shot her first split-screen. That's were
off the left side of the camera lens (with small piece of black cardboard), and shoot
a certain scene. Then, rewind the film, & block off the top half, and re-shoot a diff-
If it works right, you
get two different scenes - on left and right of the screen -
that somehow relate-to/contrast/play-off each other. You can also do a top/bottom
split screen. She won't know if it worked until the film comes back from the developer.
Zarena finally got to see the film she made. Wendy said all her (male) classmates
were walking around with their tongues hanging out, saying things like, "Uh, er,
your actress is very pretty."
Wendy was editing this week, in same room with the 2 girls (partners) that were
bickering. Every 5 minutes they'd start arguing about something, saying things like,
"Why did you do that? I already told you I didn't want you to do that." It was a
Wendy loves editing. It's where creative juices flow most freely.
Fade to black.
Next -> Editor's position accepted
Previous -> Producing a 546
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