Preparing for the Pitch
The 508 semester at USC Film school

#13 in a series of 16

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

Fade up & zoom in.

Wendy has been playing detective, asking around about Tania, the upperclassman 
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).

Luke, 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 who 
works with whom. Last semester (
507), during the pairing process for 508, partner 
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 
possible film. 


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, titled The Love
(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

Tania's script was written by a girl named Miriam Kim. There were two possible scripts 
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 working 
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 
sat in.


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 (Fri/Sat/Sun), 
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, I 
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 they block 
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-
erent scene. 

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 
little distracting. 

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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