Workprint Screening
The 546 semester at USC Film school

#8 in a series of 13

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

Topics covered this update:


Fade up & zoom in.

The conformed workprint screening went well. Pema's film screened last of four. 
Wendy was pleased with the results, especially for a first cut. This was the first 
time edited footage was projected using film. Afterwards, she sensed an air of 
respect from both fellow students & faculty. 

Critiques were limited to things previously identified, things for which they already 
have a plan to address. Wendy & Geof had a challenging editing job with Pema's 
unconventional film. It appears they may have pulled it off. 

After the screening, her editing partner, Geof, joked with Pema, saying,  "We made 
you look good today, huh?" Wendy overheard the Sound prof telling Pema, "Your 
editors did a fabulous job." Pema later said that Tom (Pema's directing prof) was 
impressed with the editing. 

Wendy finished conforming the workprint by midnight. One group of editors worked 
round the clock, to the start of class in the morning. Film school students must have 
vampire blood. They're nocturnal creatures. 

Sometimes Wendy will pick up the phone, and I'll say, "It's midnight, honey. You can't 
call anyone at midnight." She'll say, "No, it's okay. They'll be up." Sure 'nuf, she'll put 
her hand over the receiver and whisper, "Told ya," and stick out her tongue. =)

Before conforming the workprint, Wendy went thru the entire film (on the Avid), 
beginning to end, adding her Wendy-esque touches to some scenes edited by Geof. 
Originally, Wendy edited only the first half of the film, & Geof did the 2nd. But Wendy 
wanted a crack at the ending, the most important part, especially in this film. She said, 
"I only intended to touch-up a few scenes, but got carried away. I couldn't stop myself. 
I got lost in the editing, like an artist gets lost in his art." 


Wendy heard that some editors are territorial. They don't want any touching cuts 
they've made. "Don't touch the scenes I edited, or I'll lay a flying atomic elbow 
on your cranium, Jack." 

Wendy & Geof discussed this, and have no probs with each other going over scenes 
they've edited. They're more interested in delivering the best possible film, than 
protecting their work. They view themselves as a team. 

With a Film school undergrad, Wendy's been editing for a few years. She gets lots 
of practice on her home editing system, which allows her to spend more time at it. 
Some students view a home editing system as an unfair advantage, tho there are 
no rules against it. But not all students have this luxury. Editing at home allows her 
edit all night long, if necessary, instead of quitting at 10PM , when the bullpen closes. 

Editing requires intense concentration for extended periods (sometimes days), evaluating 
the effects of each and every cut. After finishing a major project, she lights up a cigar
a ceremonial indulgence she learned from the Dog, who he gave her a cigar after finishing 
her last class as an undergrad.


The buildingg where Wendy's has her classes, the Zemeckis Digital Arts Center, has 
its official opening. I've been there with her a few times, and always noted the bare, 
concrete floors, unpainted walls, construction workers walking around in hardhats, 
wearing leather tool-belts. The official opening is exciting cuz it represents a step in 
a new direction: digital

In attendance were USC grads Robert Zemeckis & George Lucas. Steven Spielberg
who holds an honorary doctorate from USC, was also there. If you review their films, 
you'll see these guys embrace the creative advantages that digital technology offers. 
Lucas shot his latest Star Wars episode entirely in digital video. 

Zemeckis generously donated $5M. Lucas & Spielberg each ante'ed $2M. The governor, 
Gray Davis, was also there, designating last Thursday, Robert Zemeckis day in California. 
entertainment industry represents a good part of the state's economy.

Mom said she saw the opening ceremonies on TV. I read an article in the Daily Trojan
quoting Spielberg as saying, "There is not better place on earth that will train you in 
your craft."

US News & World Report ranks USC #1 university for Cinema-Television. The Digital Arts 
center should help keep them #1 as the industry adapts to the new technology. Cinema 
school Dean Elizabeth Daley mentioned a deal with Avid to keep the school stocked with 
upgraded versions of their editing stations (which Wendy is using to cut Pema's film).

Wendy has witnessed, first hand, how much easier it is to do things digitally, compared 
to working with analog. Not only is media (footage, audio, pictures, graphics) easier to 
work with digitally, but it's also faster & cheaper. She has a good handle on how to work 
with digital files.


Liliana's (high-quality) answer print screens at the Norris theater, March 31st. Map HERE
Norris Cinema Theater is listed as NCT on the map, at grid position I-10. You may have 
to scroll down/right to see grid coordinates. Screenings starts at 8PM. I have no ideas 
what to expect for seating. Norris is big, but there are a dozen films screening. At a recent
546 screening, we had to sit on the floor in the aisle. I don't think it'll fill up, but give 
yourself time to get there. 

The answer print screening is a big deal. It's the big, official screening. There's likely to be 
more people viewing this film at one time than ever before. Wendy's excited about it.

The *first* print of each film is called the answer print. Each subsequent print is called 
a release print. Wendy is getting a release print of Liliana made, for her own use at home. 
But she first has to sign papers saying she won't use the film for financial gain, and will 
abide by other, similar restrictions. 

USC technically owns the film. She's also having a low-contrast print made, which will 
be used to made video copies. Low-contrast prints look terrible projected, but make 
better videos, which will be given to family, friends, cast & crew.

Liliana is about a girl who misses her mother, a flamenco dancer who died in a car 
accident. A power struggle with her father is also addressed. At only 5 mins, it goes 
by fast. You be surprised how many long walks on the beach have been taken, hashing 
out the psycho-dynamics of the characters. Watch the horses reins. It's subtle, but 
Liliana is all about the reins (power, control). It won't be hard, cuz Buck (w/ reins), is 
a beauty. Buck is Berni's horse.


The deadline for the Student Academy Awards is April 2. Wendy plans to submit Liliana
More info HERE. Three prizes per category: Gold ($5K), Silver ($3K), Bronze ($2K). Four 
categories: Alternative, Animation, Documentary, Narrative.

Her 508 prof, Helaine, encouraged students to enter saying, "All you can see now are 
the mistakes, but your film is better than you think. Later you'll recognize this. You have 
nothing to lose."


Posted headshots of actors selected for the 3-person scene HERE, adapted from the
, The Alchemist, by Paolo Coelho, for her Intermediate Directing class. The prof 
makes students call back all actors/actresses *not* selected, and tell them that they 
weren't selected. 

Kagan says, "Rejection is a big part of this industry, and best that you get used to it now." 
Wendy usually tells the people she auditions that, if they don't hear from her, that means 
they weren't selected. Most appreciate the call back, even if it means they didn't get the 

Jaime is playing Santiago, the boy-seeker. He's 24, from NYC, been married for two years, 
and read the novel in Portuguese - the native language of the author. Wendy has been 
impressed by his talent. Mathew is playing the Alchemist. He hails from Brooklyn. The 
Great Zarena is playing the heart, as the boy enters into conversation with his heart, 
not actually a physical character in the book, but Wendy is using Zarena to personify 
the heart. Should be a challenge.

They will perform the scene in class, for Kagan, where he will rip them apart. Shooting 
is planned for next week in the high desert at Joshua Tree National park. We love Joshua 
Tree. Whenever we're in the area, we always drop in at
a funky techno lounge named 
Jeremy's Cyber cafe, out in the middle of nowhere, with people sitting around on comfy 
couches, reading Dostoevsky. 


She's been talking to Geof about directing a 546 next semester. Geof plans to submit 
a reel as well. He thinks Wendy has a good chance getting selected, saying "Everything 
you do is good." 

The demands of Film school are relentless, involving much criticism. It's easy to lose sight 
of why you're working all night long. So it's particularly sweet when things goes well. 
Makes it all seem worthwhile, at least for a few days. When Wendy came home after 
the conformed screening, she said, "I used to always wonder what I was gonna do with 
my life. I don't wonder about that anymore."

Will leave you with a pic of Wendy & Jahmar laughing Xmas eve, & some other shots 
from New Year's eve at Crystal Cove state park. The last sunset of the millennium. 
See here (7 photos total).

Fade to black.

Next -> Application for 546 Directorship
Previous -> Editors' Cut Shown

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