Welcome to the Fall 2001 Semester at USC Film School

Wendy's USC Film school update #1
Posted: 30aug2001

Topics covered this update:

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

Fade up & zoom in.

Welcome to Wendy's 4th semester of Film school at USC. Classes began this week. 
Wendy prepared for the semester by back-packing 30 miles of Yosemite back
country in 6 days, down the Grand Canyon of the Tuolomne. She feels strong.

She feels better about this semester than any previous. She likes her classmates 
and the sense of community that has been developing at school. They're becoming
a close-knit group. 

Several classmates stopped down here in Laguna several times over the summer. 
We made them honorary Lagunatics. Keith & Sabrina were most frequent visitors.

Wendy spent a lot of time over the summer developing her story idea for her 
thesis project. She actually started over and rewrote the whole thing from 

She said, "To put it in a nutshell, my story is the Wizard of Oz meets the Matrix
at the beach
". =D She won't shoot her thesis film for another year. Plenty of time
to prepare.

In preparation for writing the script for her thesis project, she read several books 
on developing story ideas. Her favorite was titled The Writer's Journey - Mythic 
Structure for Writers
. Surprisingly, this book is assigned for her Writing class this 
semester (Writing the Feature Script - 4 units). So she'll have a jump on things 
there. She also enjoyed reading Stealing Fire from the Gods and two others.


Wendy edited Tania's thesis project film, titled Seahorses, this summer. She did 
this while Tania was away in Hawaii, teaching a Filmmaking class at college there, 
as part of a USC outreach program. Great deal. Luke also was able to go.

Wendy didn't finish editing it, but she has assembled the entire project. That was 
her goal for the summer, to get that done before Tania returned. Wendy kept having 
nightmares that Tania came back and said, "Is that all you got done?" =) 

All that remains now is the fine-tune editing. The length is pretty close to the 
required time of 12 minutes. She's less than a minute over.

Wendy is learning a lot from Tania about what is required to make a thesis film.
She says Tania is very organized.

The biggest problem she had editing Tania's film is that the supporting actress
(Guinevere - scroll down) is a much more talented actress than the girl playing
the lead (Catherine). She wants to use all the shots with Guinevere, but can't,
cuz she's only the supporting actress.

She feels honored to be selected to edit a thesis project. She's not aware
of anyone else from her class who is doing this. Tania was there when the
film Wendy edited last semester (Echo) screened at Norris. Afterwards, 
Tania came up to Wendy & told her, "I'm sooo glad I have you editing my 
." (thesis project)


Most graduate students would be done after their 4th semester, but the Production  
program at USC is a 3-year prgm. Supposedly only roughly half the students are able 
to complete the requirements in 3 years. It's not uncommon for students to take 4 or 
even 5 years to finish, especially those who want to make their own thesis film.


This is Wendy's first semester as a TA. She's TA'ing a prof named Bob Jones, 
who is teaching a class titled Intermediate Editing (535). Wendy's experience 
as an editor last semester set her up to TA this class. 

Wendy has never met Bob in person, but many of her classmates had this class 
with him last semester. Several said that he is their *favorite* prof at USC. 

Bob will not be there for the first few weeks. He had surgery. No telling exactly 
when he'll arrive. There are 3 Int Editing classes each semester, and in the mean 
time, another prof, who's teaching another 535 classes, is doubling up, teaching 
Bob's class. 

Wendy has been working with him the last couple of weeks, setting up the materials 
and schedule for the class. She's trying to do an extra good job, taking matters into
her own hands, instead of waiting for the profs to give her something to do.

Wendy is excited about TA'ing this class. Several of the students in her class, that 
she started with, will be taking the it. For example, Peter, and Ron & Alex, and a few 
others that I don't have pictures of. She wants the class to rock for her friends, and 
has been working extra hard to find cool footage for them to edit. 

This is the first semester that 535 students will *not* edit with Adobe Premiere.
They'll only edit using the Avid, and 16mm film on the flatbed.


The film that Wendy edited last semester, titled Echo, is screening next week. It will 
be screened at the Norris theater. This is the big, official screening. Four films will be
shown. Each is 12 minutes, 16mm, color, with sync-sound dialogue.

We went the the 546 screenings last semester. It was a big deal. The place was 
packed. We arrived late and had to sit on the floor in the aisles, along with a hundred 
other people. People dressed up. Wine & snacks afterwards. I heard they might even 
have live music scheduled this time. Everyone is of course invited. 

Not sure when Echo will screen, but rumor has it they'll save it for last. The Norris 
theater can be found on this map here. It's located at grid position I-10, labeled 
. If you attended the 508 Answer-print screening, you know where Norris is. 
It's the same place. Drop Wendy a note if you want the specifics (date/time).


Echo was accepted into 2 Film festivals: 
1. Temecula Valley International Film festival.
2. San Diego Asian American Film festival (Pema, the director, is Tibetan)
Wendy is excited about this. She worked hard on the film.

Also, her 508 film, titled Liliana was accepted in the Big Bear Lake International Film 
. I think this also screens next week, in Big Bear. A good reason to get away.
Drop her a note if you're interested in attending the Big Bear festival.


Several students from Wendy's class wanted to *shoot* a 546. Before the school 
lets them shoot a 546, students must first take a (semester-long) Cinematography 
class. Many students petitioned to shoot a 546, but only 8 are selected each semester 
(four 546 films per semester, 2 Cinematographers per film). 

Wendy is looking forward to seeing how two in particular turn out. The first will be shot
by the team of Luke & Michael Strode. Wendy said Luke is the best shooter in her class,
and Michael Strode shot Chad's 508, who had the best 508 Wendy ever saw, titled Zero's 
. So she expects great things from this film.

The other team will be Keith and Doug, who are also two hot Cinematographers.


Wendy got several letters over the summer from people who have been accepted into 
the graduate Film program at USC. They found her updates online. If you search for 
USC Film school
in Google, supposedly the world's best search engine, her updates 
show up on the first page. This is a copy of the most recent letter, received a few days 

Hi Wendy,

After having spent several hours on your site, I just had to drop you a quick thank-you 
note. I am starting classes at USC grad Film in January, and feel like I've gotten a 
tremendous head start just by reading your story.

Please feel free to contact me if you (or someone you know) needs any PA help on 
projects this semester.  I am a former web developer who is enjoying several months 
"retirement" before starting classes next year. I live in Los Angeles and would welcome 
the chance to get a head start on my education.

I look forward to eventually meeting you.


If you haven't heard already, Wendy's grades for last semester (546) are posted 
. This is her first full-fledged A. She has received lots of A-minuses before, 
but never a full-blown A, which do wonders for the GPA.

Also Wendy got an A- for the summer class she took, titled Visual Expression
After the class she said, "I'll never look at the world the same." Some of the 
pictures she took for this class are posted here -> Lani at Noguchi Gardens  
(in Costa Mesa, 10 photos), and others are posted here -> Visual Expression photos  
(11 photos).

The film, titled Nature Calls, that she and her partners made for this class is posted 
here. This is the first film that she made that made people laugh. She liked making 
people laugh.


We rented a movie last night titled The Gift. Written by Billy Bob Thornton. I know that
movies are very subjective, but we liked it enough to feel comfortable recommending 
it to anyone who might be looking for something to go with their Blockbuster popcorn. 

Fade to black.

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