Stress Returns
The 546 semester at USC Film school

#3 in a series of 13

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

Fade up & zoom in.

Wendy's stress meter is back in the red. Life was free & easy after she finished 
editing Lisa's film last semester, but once again, the pressure is on. This semester 
won't be the killer that 508 was, but it's still shaping up to be a doozy. 

She's beginning to feel the pressure of editing Pema's film. Altho she has plenty of 
editing experience, she'll be editing it on a platform with which she has no prior 
, scaling the steeper slopes of the Avid learning curve. 

She has a great prof teaching the Avid, but the material is coming fast & furious. 
Like drinking water thru a fire hose. 

Her editing partner, Geof, rocks. A graduate of Columbia university (Ivy league), he's 
sharp, works hard, and is always looking ahead for potential snags. He & Wendy are 
discussing how to divvy up the workload. 

I originally thought they were both going to edit everything together. But it looks like 
they'll each edit different scenes, in shifts. 

Wendy wants to edit the flashback scenes, cuz they're the most interesting to her, 
offering the most creative freedom. But Geof might want to edit some, too. Geof has 
a class the night they're scheduled to sync the dailies (lock the audio to the picture). 
It looks like he'll be relieving Wendy sometime around midnight, to finish the job. 

Today the Editing prof taught a class on Oliver Stone's use of flashbacks and 
mind-screen. Wendy said the prof isn't crazy about Stone, but says he's a master 
of the flashback & mind-screen. 

It's cool that he discussed how to edit flashbacks, cuz Pema's film makes much use 
of flashbacks. In fact, Pema met with Wendy & Geof today, to say that he's going to 
make the flashback scenes more obvious, less transparent. Wendy & Geof both like 
the idea. 

At the meeting, Pema asked if they could edit a certain scene ahead of schedule,
cuz he wants to get an idea if it will work or not. But Wendy & Geof haven't come 
to that part of their lessons with the Avid yet. (They've only digitized film & sync'ed 
audio.) So Geof went to the bookstore and purchased the Avid book today. They're 
going to try to figure it out from the book, before being taught that part by the prof. 


Wendy's started editing a 1-minute project for the Intermediate Directing class. She's 
editing it here, on her PC, which is based upon the RT2000 editing card. She likes 
being able to edit at home, and not having to drive to LA to edit. She can stay up 
all night if she wants, whereas the editing bullpen at school closes at 11PM. 

I just finished upgrading her system, with a new motherboard, and 2 new hard drives. 
This will give her more disk space to work with. She always says she doesn't need 
any more space, then quickly proceeds to fill every hard drive I put in her system. 

She also has two new operating systems: Windows ME & Windows 2000. Win2000 is 
dedicated solely for editing video, whereas WinME for all normal PC functions, such as 
word-processing, email, etc.

All components in her system are now on the official approved list for her video-editing 
card. I had a problem with the dang sound card, but that's fixed now. I finished with an 
hour to spare. It was getting close, and she was stressing, but she's now ready to edit.

For the Intermediate Directing class, she'll be required to create one 1-min project, 
and two 5-min projects. One of the 5-min projects will be a scene adapted from the 
book Green Mansions, by WH Hudson. (The book was later made into a movie, starring 
Audrey Hepburn & Anthony Perkins.) 

The first 5-min piece has 2 characters interacting. The second 5-min scene will have 
characters interacting (more complex). Her prof likes the book. Classmates have never 
heard of it. 

Wendy loves the Intermediate Directing class with Kagan. She says it's one of the best 
classes she's ever had. It brings together different bodies of knowledge (such as 
psychology, topology & mysticism) that she's familiar with, and uses them to address 
how to work with actors


This semester has a different feel to it, compared to 508. A different flavor. She no 
longer feels like a rookie, no longer a first-year newbie. She seems more confident in 
her abilities & value as a filmmaker. Getting chosen first by both Tania & Pema was 
a great ego booster. 

And after seeing last semester's 546 films last weekend, in the Norris (big) theater, 
packed with people filling the aisles, knowing that the film she's working on now is 
destined for screening in that very same theater, she's excited by what the future 
holds. She feels like she might actually be able to do this filmmaking thing. 


She heard that the single most valuable part of Film school (at USC) is the friends you 
make & the relationships you develop

A certain percentage of students will go on to achieve great success in the industry, 
and they'll remember the people they've worked with. The phone will ring one day, 
and it'll be an old classmate who landed a big job, and needs help, good help, people
he/she can count on & trust. Going thru Film school with someone builds trust. 

Making movies is about putting together a team that works well together. It doesn't 
matter how much talent is assembled, if the crew can't work together. 

Wendy said that in Hitchcock's golden years, one of his keys to success was that he 
assembled a crew that consistently worked well together. (As an undergrad, she took 
a class studying Hitchcock with Dr. Casper.) 


There are a few other major projects after 546: 581, 582 & 587. We only know 
sketchy details right now, but a 581 is a 12-mins movie that you do yourself. 
You're on your own with a 581, writing & directing your own film, with only a mentor 
for advice. 

The director gets units, but no one else does (the people who shoot & edit your film 
receive no units from the school, but they also don't have to pay for units, either). 
As the Director, you must round up your own crew, who get nothing but a credit on 
the film. 

A 587 is up to 20-mins, with the difference that a Producer also signs on for units 
(6 units). Wendy would love to do a 587, with a dedicated Producer.

The advanced projects, 581, 582 & 587, satisfy the graduation requirement for a 
thesis project. 

It's after 1AM now. Wendy is on her PC, adapting a scene from the book, Green 
, into a script. I'm going to bed. 

Fade to black.

Next ->
First Primary Shoot
Previous -> 546 Screenings

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