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

Week Four

Visual part of film #2 is done -> an 8-min audio/visual interpretation of a section from Dante's Divine Comedy. Only the audio remains unfinished, & she loves doing the audio. The project seems to come together with audio, with the addition of music tracks & sound effects - all keyed to the visuals. She has a professional-quality audio-editing program that should give her an advantage over those who have to use Premiere to cut their audio.

Each film gets better. Seems like this latest project takes a her a significant step beyond anything she's done in the past. Perhaps it's merely more ambitious. hard to tell until it's all done. There's nop audio yet, but so far, it looks interesting -> deeper, more layered, textured, emotional, & of course One-take Jonathan did a great job. She worked on it all day Saturday - from 9AM until to 2:00 in the morning, & again, all day Sunday, until midnight.

She eats at the computer, face glued to the monitor. I managed to drag her off to the Jacuzzi once each day, but that's about it. Even at the Jacuzzi, she's thinking about her film.

Had originally planned to do the picture portion on Saturday, and complete the audio on Sunday. But visual part took longer than anticipated - seems like everything in production takes longer than anticipated. Now she'll have to edit the audio on Wednesday, which is tight, cuz she shows film Thursday. If anything goes wrong Wednesday (computer crashes, etc.), she may not have time to fix.

She's in another universe when editing her films - some distant galaxy. For example, I say things like,

"Honey, the kitchen's on fire." Her response -> "Okay."
I come home & say, "Honey, I wrecked your car today." Her response -> "Okay."
The phone rings. I answer. It's a wrong number, but I say, "That was Lani, she's pregnant." Response -> "Alright." 

New assignment in the Acting/Directing Actors class: she has to ACT in 2 scenes and DIRECT 1. Prof said each scene should take 4-8 hours to prepare. Students are feeling overwhelmed. She heard other students saying things like, "This is like boot camp."  

The Acting/Directing class is her second favorite after Production itself, where she makes/shows/views films. Wendy talked to her Acting prof back when classes first started, and introduced herself after class. She told him how she has experience in the Healing arts, which employ psychological principles, & that directing actors seemed to be a similar extension of psychology -> time warp to today -> she called her Acting prof with a few Qs about her scene .. & he told her he just read a quote from Elia Kazan (famous director who I've never heard of) that said, "Directing turns psychology into behavior." He remembered their conversation. {Kazan directed A Street Car named Desire with Brando & is famous for old, emotionally-charged films.}

Wendy has zero acting experience. A few students in her class have tons of acting experience. Those with the most acting experience were 'drafted in the first round' for class projects. For the first 3 projects, she teamed up with one guy who has acting experience & another who doesn't.

One cool concept she shared with me is about mapping the structure of a film's emotional intensity. Films that 'work' have similar emotional-intensity structures. Those that doesn't, do not. Prof said emotional-intensity structure is a vital, although not obvious, component of films that work.

Her sound class is very technical, with lots of technical terms, & Wendy's not the most technical person. But I'm kind technical, & have been able to help her with some of the more techie stuff. The other day, she started her audio-editing program, & up popped one of those helpful tips on how to use the program better. She reads it out loud to me. It was chock full of techical-sounding terms. Then she looked over & said, "Ya know what's scary, is that I almost understand that." =D

For English class, Jahmar had to write a paper about The Coolest Person I Know. He wrote about Wendy, saying how his mom was going to graduate school at USC, studying & making films. He's proud of his mom. Wendy was touched. Same day, she got an email from Lani at UC Santa Cruz, saying, "You're my idol, mom." Think I saw a happy tear. 

Update: midnight Wednesday, she's still not done. "But I'm close," she says,  always pushing it to the edge (she has to show it tomorrow).

Can't wait to see it on the TV. Sound is finished. She merely has to import the audio back into Premiere & put everything out to tape, which she'll take to school with her. 

I think she's happy with how film #2 turned out, cuz a few times today, I heard her say (in her best Muhammad Ali impression), "I'm a baaaaad man."

Next -> Film 2 Report Card

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