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

First Look at 16mm + Pairing for 508

Students met at the loading dock of the Lucas bldg this morn, instead of their normal classroom at the Zemeckis center. Profs broke out the 16mm gear & gave students their first look at what they'll be using next semester. No doubt shots will be planned more painstakingly with 16mm, as it costs far more to than DV - not only to buy, but then it must also be developed. The idea of working with film excites students.

Wendy made five super-8 (celluloid) films as an undergrad. I can still see her, in the back bedroom, with all lights turned off, with that silly miner's headlamp strapped to her head, and a million tiny snippets of film all over the floor around her - others taped to a board with little, identifying pieces of paper attached to each clip. She'd be back there many nights until three in the morning. Editing film is not nearly as easy as editing on a PC (non-linear editing). She doesn't like editing film as much as DV, but at she knows how.

Last summer, she transferred all her undergrad super-8 shorts to DV, and re-edited them on her PC, chopping out a lot of dead wood in the process. She re-did all the audio, upgrading it to CD-quality.

Spring is in the air, and so is pairing up for next semester's 508 class. Instead of five films each, each student will do only two - with a partner. One writes & directs, while the other shoots & edits. Then they swap roles and do another the second half of the semester. So if you have a good 508 partner -> happy days .. but if not ...

Weeks ago, Wendy asked Luke, a Canadian, to partner with her. She said Luke was the best in her class. He took a long time to decide, putting off the decision until after he finished his last film. Meanwhile, the pairing-up bug swept the class. Wendy didn't talk to anyone else, cuz she wanted to work with Luke. 

But Luke decided to work with someone else - a guy named Keith in another class, who's into SciFi. Luke said that the program is long (3 years), and that they'd probably in the future. Luke felt that he and Wendy approach film from similar views, and that he wanted to explore other ideas. Said he felt awkward about the call.

Wendy was bummed, especially since she didn't talk to anyone about partnering. 

All students are younger. I'm sure they look at a prospective partner with social eyes, more than anything. How well someone can work a camera probably comes second during this point is their lives. Many are still single. 

She has since talked to a few other students, but most already hava partner. But there's one girl in another class, Lisa, that sounds interesting. Lisa, like Wendy, has her own equipment. Anyone with their own equipment (camera & editing PC) is naturally going to be more serious. Wendy is serious about producing quality work.

I only have sketchy info right now, but a positive first impression. This is an important decision. Lisa seems all for it.

I saw some of Lisa's work while at USC to see the class viewing. I forget the exact details, but I recall her film was abstract - people with no faces. It held my interest, but I wasn't sure what was going on. Wendy say this type of film is categorized as experimental.

Would it be better if Wendy partnered with someone more like her, or more her opposite (for balance)? I don't know.

I have a good feeling about Lisa, when Wendy told me about her. Maybe they'll find a synergy that will allow them to do great work together. Whatever happens, choice of partner will play key roll in how well her films do. Will let you know more where we learn more about her. 

I stopped at Barnes & Noble and picked up a book titled, Film School Confidential. It seemed to jump out at me. Film School Confidential provides the inside scoop on Film schools. The book dwells more on the dirt, or the negatives, than the positives. The book's intro refers the reader to the university's brochure if you want to read about the school's good side.  

Book is copyrighted '97, so it's somewhat dated. [I could tell by looking at the tuition prices listed that the book was not current. =) ] Here is some info I gleaned from reading the book. 

The best film schools in the country are:

Each school has its own particular strengths and weaknesses. Here's a snippet of what they say about USC:

Best thing about USC: proximity to the industry, and the unique opportunities that come with it. The networking possibilities are endless for motivated students. The school hands out more than $2M each year. The scope of classes are excellent. USC is one of the few schools that seriously addresses television. The program is extremely flexible after the first year. 

The bad: Women still tend to be overlooked in a school that is trying to get past the boys' club mentality. Students must be self-promoters in order to not get lost in the shuffle. 

Conclusion: USC has a great track-record. The school claims 75% of alumni are working in the industry. First Look is a big deal with a ton of PR behind it. USC films are seen by the right people. 

Wendy's not feeling well. She got a dose of the chest crud that's been going around the class. Sounds like her lungs are full of Elmer's glue. The good part is that this is the last film of the semester, and she doesn't have to plan for the another while working on this one. She been feeling beat up since finishing Vandancing - looking forward to the end of the semester. But no rest for the weary - not yet.

Next -> Spike Visits USC

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