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And AWAAAY we go!

28 Feb

Here we go guys! The red carpet is underway, the fajitas have been grilled! Let the cynical commentary begin!

Click Here

 

Update: 8am my time – the live blog became a live chat and fun was had by all! Thanks to everyone who stopped by! I may very well have a ranty oscar recap bubbling up later today. In the meantime, Me = Sleep!

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Writer’s Block Over?

26 Feb

Apparently so. Yes – I put it off till the last minute. The deadline is two days away. Yes, it’s an adaptation.

But I sat down and wrote a 3 page synopsis today. And I think I did a damn good job too. It needs a bit more work – but I did it.

And you know what? I’m so frakking relieved I can’t even explain it.

Confession time: apart from this blog, I haven’t written a lick since my breakdown in december.

I think I was afraid that the meds would mess with my creativity, or would make me different – or something. I don’t know. I was just scared of trying to write and having something crappy come out.

I’d heard that anti-depressants can mess with your creativity, and despite proof to the contrary in the form of this blog, I was scared to death of attempting something as daunting as a film synopsis.

But the meds had no effect. I did it. I can do it.

*doing the happy dance*

Not-So-Weekly Obsession: The Oscars!

21 Feb

Ok – I’ve been holding on to this one, to wait for perfect timing. So here we go:

Most of you already know that amongst other things,  I’m a filmmaker. What most of you don’t know, is that I’ve wanted to be a director since about the age of twelve. And I kind of blame Billy Crystal.

Ok – I’m going a bit overboard. Plus that intro is from 1997 – but just because I couldn’t find 1992.

But notice  – the original “let’s insert the host into the movies” segment! Yes! the MTV movie awards ripped them off!

Plus – there was no cynicism back then. The ratings for the telecast were still sky-high, and jokes were wholesome.

I’m getting a bit off track here.

The point is this – I am proud to say, that ever since the age of 12, that’s 18 years in a row, I have watched every single Oscar telecast live. (This is no simple feat, as I will explain in a bit).

By the age of 19 – I took it one step further. I made sure to watch every single film nominated for best picture and most of the other major categories.

Again – an easy feat, if you’re living in the states. I mean, all I would have to do back then was just hit the theater for a couple of weekends in a row, and I’d be covered. Plus – what’s the challenge of watching something broadcast at 8pm?

But see – here is where things get interesting, my dear grasshoppers. Out of these 18 years, I have spent 11 of them in Israel. Yes – that means that the oscar telecast starts for me at 3am.

And yes – I still watch it live, every single year.

I love the unexpected wins, I love rooting for my favorites, and I love ranting uncontrollably when someone I hate wins.

About 4 or 5 years ago, I moved back to Israel after a 7 year stint in the states, and the obsession took on a whole new form.

See, Squish has a similar obsession to mine, and from our mutual love – a new tradition was born – the annual oscar party.

The party starts at midnight. Along with the other brave souls who decide to join us in the marathon, we begin with food.

Shmerson and I like to host parties. Mostly because I always cook especially yummy food that he likes to brag about, and because he does most of the cleaning afterwards, which makes me happy.

The oscar party is our superbowl. Each year, there is a different food theme (last year we had fondue – both cheese and chocolate, this year we’re going for mexican). In fact, some of our guests basically come for the food and the cynicism.

Oh, the cynicism is the best…

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

We start at midnight with screenings of one or two of the nominated films, usually Squish and I choose the program, and we try to work in films that are nominated but that most of the guests haven’t seen.

Of course, yummy food is served.

At 3am we turn to the red carpet coverage, which is usually played at a low volume while squish and I comment on how “black is the new black” and “that red dress makes xxx look like a whore”. Much pointing and laughing is had.

Then we break out the first round of coffee and red bull, and the ceremony begins.

Shouting matches ensue between our guests (mostly between squish and I – some people come to see those also), about who should have won, why is it that Renee Zelwigger always looks like she’s constipated, and why Daniel Day Lewis is actually a Douche.

Oh, and then there’s more food.

And on and on we go on our caffeinated viewing spree until the ceremony ends at 7:30am, and we all go back to our respective homes to collapse. (yes, that means that on oscar day, we all take off of work. We are that committed).

This year I’ve decided that through the shouting, the eating, and the coffee, I will do something that I’ve always kind of wished I could do, but never had the platform to do it.

And here is the big announcement I was teasing about in my post earlier today:

Drumroll…..

I will be live blogging the oscars right here!

Yes folks, your eyes are not deceiving you – if you wish, you may watch the ceremony live right along with us and be witness to  the food, the sleep-deprivation, the cynical comments, and the shouting matches between me and squish all live right here!

It will be fun, it should be funny, and it will most likely be epic!

I’m still trying to figure out the technology here – so for all of you email subscribers, you may get a test post in the next couple of days just to make sure that all is in working order – my apologies for that.

But in the meantime – I ask you loyal readers for the following:

1) if anybody has a good mexican recipe – please share!

2) Somebody please help me – how the heck do I make nacho cheese sauce without velveeta (they don’t have that here – all I’ve got to work with is cheddar cheese so I need all the help I can get)?

3) and most important – spread the word! Pimp me out! I’m not one for begging to get traffic on here, even though I admit there are days when my page views are rather nice, considering how new this blog is. But help me make my fantasy come true! Let me wow you with my movie knowledge accompanied with my never ending bitterness toward the hollywood machine! And bring a friend!

I hope you guys join me in this MO first.

Sunday, February 27th (or actually monday Feb. 28th for my hemisphere), 3am Israel time (GMT +2) – That’s 1am for you Brits (GMT),  12pm for you Aussies (GMT +11), Or 8pm Eastern/5pm pacific for you Canadians and Americans. Make yourself a bowl of nachos and a couple of fajitas and join us!

I’m psyched. I know you probably aren’t, but trust me, you should be. Really. Ok? Um, or just pretend to be? Awesome. Thanks. 🙂

Essence and Identity

31 Jan

“When a character realizes the need to abandon his identity and embrace his essence, sometimes that notion is scarier than death”.

-Michael Hauge, speaking at the 2011 screenwriter’s summit in Tel Aviv

Identity – The Mask that a person builds for him/her self over time. The person is convinced that this is the true self, despite the nagging feeling that something is wrong.

Essence – The True Self

Taking the road from Identity to essence is the basis for any good story.

Rose in Titanic – her “Identity” was that of a dutiful wife and daughter. Her essence was that of a free, independent woman. She almost killed herself rather than embrace her essence.

There are hundreds of examples, but I’m sure this is the most well-known.

But what Mr. Hauge said rang even truer when it came to looking at my own life.

“embracing your essence is sometimes scarier than death”

Tell me about it.

It’s been a long couple of days. I promise I’ll be more coherent tomorrow.

A Wine Bottle Metaphor (non-“Lost” related)

11 Jan

For those of you who don’t know – I’m (supposed to be) a filmmaker. When I was twelve I decided I wanted to be a film director and from that point on I was a woman on a mission. I left home at age 19 – flew halfway across the world, and spent 7+ years pursuing this dream in the US.

The last two years of that pursuit – well, they kind of broke me.

Allow me to rewind:

It’s the beginning of my senior year at undergrad. I’m a “superstar”. 3.95 GPA, dean’s list, honors program, winner of every scholarship and award, general over-achiever.

Toward the end of the first semester I decide to apply to one of the most prestigious MFA programs in the country for film. I get the rec letters, I write my essay, I put together my reel, I send it in….

And then I freak out.

I run to the office of one of my favorite professors, I knock on her door, and I collapse on her couch crying.

Prof: What’s wrong?

Me: I sent in my application today.

Prof: And what? they already rejected you? That seems a little far-fetched

Me: No. I just know I’m not going to get in. And it’s the only place I applied to.

Prof: um – and how do you know you’re not going to get in? Have you developed telepathic powers? Or can you see the future? Because that would be awesome.

(her dry wit does nothing to reduce the sobbing)

Prof: come on, what’s wrong?

Me (as if I’m confessing to murder): I have no original ideas. I suck.

She cracks up laughing.

Prof: Honey – there are no original ideas. There haven’t been more or less since the greeks. You should know this – I remember distinctly that you got an “A” in your intellectual heritage class.

Me: But… But…

Prof: But nothing. No idea is original. it’s the style and personality behind its execution that makes it unique.

4 months later I get called in for an interview at prestigious grad school x.

3 weeks later I get accepted into their directing program.

2 years later that little breakdown in my mentor’s office is peanuts compared to the insecure mess  that I’ve become.

and now – 3+ years after that – well, I’m still an insecure mess, but at least I’m writing again (that is – if this blog counts for anything).

I could sit here and bore you with the internal politics of “prestigious grad school x” and how the place’s cliques and nepotism (and the fact that I was one of the few students there who didn’t have a rich daddy to pay his/her way) basically sabotaged my chances of success there from day one.

To be honest – I have so much venom toward the place that it could fill an entire book. And I’m avoiding mentioning the name mostly because of that venom – I doubt they take too kindly to alumni who trash them.

The place is evil incarnate. With the exception of a few gems in the faculty, it is a machine that will work tirelessly to stuff you  – the square peg- into their round-hole-idea of what filmmaking is. That is, of course, unless your parents are rich or famous – then feel free to express yourself and terrorize your fellow students and they will happily look the other way and make sure to ask you for a generous donation later.

I came into grad school x a talented, award-winning (and yes somewhat too cocky) filmmaker. I left there a jiggly mess of insecurity.

Don’t get me wrong, this is not only the school’s fault. I am responsible as well. I was so concerned with getting the approval of my peers and the faculty that I completely lost my sense of individuality.

I was targeted from day one because I was good, and because I knew I was good. And instead of telling everyone to piss off and go Fuck themselves I bought into their bullshit and left there believing that I was worthless.

Yes – my initial air of cockiness was most likely incredibly annoying to the people who felt threatened by me (it’s a really competitive environment), but that gave them no right to tear me down, and I was a complete and total idiot for letting them.

And the result is, that it’s been 3+ years since I left that godforsaken place, and this blog is the first bit of writing I’ve done for fun since then.

I love this blog – but I do think it’s time to get my career on.

I’ve spent the last four years making a heck of a lot of excuses as to why I don’t have a feature script ready to go, why I haven’t directed another short, bla bla bla.

There was even a point where I convinced myself that I can’t write. Even though in my heart of hearts I know I can, and I’m even pretty good at it sometimes.

At one point I also decided – heck, I don’t want to be a writer/director at all. it’s not practical and I don’t love it anymore. Also BS.

I made some feeble attempts at getting some development money and such – but my heart was never in it and every word that I wrote was forced and disingenuous.

*****

It was about a week after my second miscarriage. I had just hit the wall (metaphorically speaking). I was having a complete identity crisis.

From a place of panic I decide that the next logical step is to get a Phd. Of course! I mean hey, every woman who miscarries needs to get a phd, right? Especially if it’s in film! Let’s just ignore the fact that your body and soul are both decimated, shall we?

I decide to call up yet another one of my mentors, also an old college professor (I’ll call her LL), and a woman who I really idolize.

She had just come to Israel to visit a few months before, and I actually met up with her two days after my D&C, so she knew more or less what I was going through.

She hops on skype.

LL: So – what’s up?

Me: Well, I um, had another miscarriage.

LL: Oh honey, I’m so incredibly sorry to hear that.

Me: Yeah, well, um, it’s ok. That’s actually not why I called. I need some advice.

LL: Ok – shoot.

Me: Well, I think it’s time for a change – and – well, I thought of maybe going for my Phd may do me some good, and I wanted your advice on who to talk to over here.

LL: Sweetie, um, are you sure you want to do that?

Me: I think so. I mean, it’s not like “trying to be a director” is getting me anywhere.

I start sobbing.

LL: Oh honey – listen. I know you. You are not cut out for academia. You are a filmmaker.

Me: No I’m not.

LL: Don’t say that. You are. I just think that – well – that “Grad school X” kind of took away your voice, and you don’t know quite how to handle it.

Me: *sobbing uncontrollably*

LL: Listen – do something for me – let this idea  sit for a bit ok? How about grabbing a video camera and shooting something – anything – just for yourself. I don’t know, maybe a love letter to the babies you lost…?

Me: *sob* ok *sob*

LL: Just find your voice again. I promise you that once you do that, things will be a lot clearer.

I haven’t picked up the camera – yet.

****

I don’t dream much – or at least I don’t remember most of my dreams. However, for the last three years or so I’ve had this recurring nightmare, and it’s the only one I remember. I’m in a room surrounded by people, and I’m very angry and upset. I’m crying. I’m trying to yell at the people around me, and I choke. No voice comes out.

****

It’s amazing to me that it took that conversation with LL to make me understand the meaning of that dream.

****

Two weeks ago I meet up with a producer friend of mine, who basically stepped in and saved my thesis film at grad school x when the faculty screwed me over on it.

We hung out, and we were talking. He says “You’re a wine bottle. “Grad school X” is the cork. If you don’t get rid of that cork pretty soon, the wine will turn into vinegar.”

The guy has never seen “Lost” so I will forgive him for changing around the wine bottle metaphor. But he’s right. Goshdarn it. He is.

****

I used to be fearless when it came to my films. I would spill my guts into every script. Every frame was me. Not all of it was perfect, but it was all me.

****

The problem is that I don’t know where to start. I don’t know how to remove that metaphorical cork. Though I do think that this blog is as good a start as any.

And here is my next step.

I am coming out of the filmmaking closet.

Embedded below is a short film I made in 2004. It’s called “Make-Up”. It’s not perfect by a long shot – it was the first time I ever directed dialogue. But it’s me. It’s my guts on that screen. It’s the last time I really allowed that to happen. I’ve made “technically better” films since then – but who the hell really cares about that?

Yes – and by watching it, I will no longer be called “mommyodyssey” – you will see my name on those credits. (as long as it doesn’t show up on this blog for future employers to google, I don’t care).

I hope you enjoy it.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Make Up on Vimeo, posted with vodpod

Feminine issues

30 Dec

Ok – I’m going to address something here that I doubt many women talk about after a miscarriage (though i have a feeling some feel this way too). But to be honest it’s something that’s been following me for much longer.

I don’t feel like a woman.

Here’s the thing: I’ve got some hardcore daddy issues. He’s a pig. Seriously. He can’t fathom a strong, business – savvy woman as something normal.

I’ve always been strong. So basically from as early as I can remember he’s been telling me not to walk down stairs with a skirt on because people will see my balls.

Paints a pretty picture – doesn’t it?

That’s not all – he also tells me sometimes that “he forgets I’m a woman.”

lovely. thanks dad. that does wonders for my self-image.

And it’s not like I did much to overcome this. My actions perpetuate it.

During grad school – very early on, one of the female directors got picked up (as in physically) by an actor on a set who proclaimed “you’re so freakin’ cute!”.

and of course, the mostly male crew stopped respecting her at that exact moment.

So – when I directed, I came in wearing sneakers, baggy clothes, with my hair up in a ponytail and a baseball cap (I hate baseball caps!).

No make up, no skirts. And make sure to let the camera crew talk openly about T&A around you. Say the word “tits” a couple of times and curse like a trucker. One of my most used phrases became “fuckety fuck fuck”. That helped.

I made a huge effort to be “one of the guys.”

Avoid getting emotional. Never ever EVER cry in front of the crew. That shows weakness. Never be girly. Because most of them are guys, and they will immediately stare at your huge boobs (I have double D’s. Baggy sweatshirts came in handy).

So I perpetuated it. Over and over and over.

I remember that on the day I finished grad school I got dolled up for the ceremony. Got my hair done, make up, a cute little black dress, heals, the whole shebang. One of my crew (who was also graduating) came up to me before the ceremony and proclaimed: Oh my god! You’re a chick!

I assume he meant it as a compliment. And – he was genuinely shocked. He was not joking.

My father to this day continues to treat me like a son – not like a daughter. He can’t handle it when I cry in front of him, for example.

The result is that I rarely put on make up, I don’t “dress up” for anything, I never buy myself anything pretty anymore (even though I have a serious shoe fetish).

My internal monologue is – what’s the point?

There were exactly two months in the last decade where I truly felt feminine. Starting from a week before my wedding and until my first miscarriage.

Having a wedding dress, a honeymoon, and a baby in my belly helped me feel grounded and whole. I found myself shopping online for pretty maternity clothes. It was fun. It was as if I had found a missing part of my identity. I could finally embrace my femininity. Embrace my “inner mommy”. The woman longing for a child.

And now – two lost babies later – i feel even less like a woman than ever before. How can I be truly a woman if I can’t keep a baby alive inside of me?

This feeling haunts me. I don’t feel sexy. I don’t even feel somewhat pretty. And I like feeling those things. I just don’t let myself any more. I’m in a bit of a gender crisis – to say the least.

Plus – I have PCOS, which means that as is, I’ve got a smidge too much testosterone in my body. So that doesn’t help matters much.

Oh – and I’m the primary breadwinner in me and schmerson’s little family.

it’s as if the second miscarriage was the final nail in the coffin of my femininity. Which sucks! Seriously. I wish I had a more eloquent way of saying that. But I don’t. It sucks and I don’t know what to do about it.

It’s amazing what an internal monologue of your own and daddy’s voice will do to decimate a person’s gender identity.

I actually LIKE the way I feel when I put on pretty, flattering clothes. I L-O-V-E shoes, and unique jewelry.

I have this earring – this amazingly gaudy earring that was made by a designer and cost a fortune. I LOVE the way I feel when I wear it. I haven’t worn it once in the last year.

I have – literally – a collection of unique shoes. Pointy heals, flowery boots, really adorable shoes that I LOVE. There was a point where I would stop and stare at a good pair of nine wests or mellisas – sometimes spending hours trying on shoes that i had no chance in hell of affording. I have at least 15 pairs of cool shoes (bought on clearance!). I barely wear them. I just wear the same pair of sporty flats until I wear them out, then I buy another boring pair of sporty flats. I barely window shop for shoes anymore. And did I mention I love shoes?

I LOVE the way I look in heals. Don’t wear them.

I LOVE how I feel when I get my hair done. I do it – at most – once every three months. I like having long, painted nails, but they’re “not practical.”

I don’t buy pretty clothes anymore. And none of my old pretty clothes fit me. So I wear ratty jeans and shirts. When I “make an effort” it’s a tunic and tights.

but still those same boring ratty shoes. If I feel daring I put on a ring that takes up half of my hand and is a giant butterfly.

That butterfly ring is nothing compared to that righteous earring. THAT made me feel like a little bit more of a woman. Especially while wearing a cute little black dress and an equally gaudy bracelet that matches the earring perfectly and was bought at the bargain price of 10 dollars.

The miscarriages just destroyed the last vestiges of my femininity. I have no idea how to get them back.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

You are what you watch

24 Dec

I feel like I’ve been rather whiny lately. I mean, supposedly it’s understandable but I’m not usually a whiny person so this whole “daily post about crappy stuff and revelations” thing is getting a bit tiring. So I’m going with a ranty analysis today.

I’ve been sharing this blog with friends. Not everyone, but people who are important to me, and some that I haven’t been in touch with for a while.

And the responses I’ve been getting are amazing.

Here’s the thing: I am very lucky. I have a lot of friends. Most of them I’ve known for years. Sometimes we lose touch for long periods of time, but they are those sorts of friendships that you know are always going to be there.

So the reactions I’ve been getting have been incredibly loving and supportive, but more surprisingly, a lot of them have been telling me that even though they aren’t going exactly through what I’ve been going through, they can relate to my struggle.

It’s funny – they almost feel guilty about saying that. As in – “I know what I’ve been through isn’t as hard as what you’re going through…”

But they really shouldn’t. Just the fact that they relate actually makes me feel a bit more, well, I guess normal is the word.

Most of the people who are saying this are people my age – as in – 30. I read somewhere about people these days having a “quarter life crisis”. perhaps this is it.

The one thing that keeps coming up – especially with my female friends is this careerist vs family struggle.

I’m actually only the second of my close girl friends to be married. I have more single friends than I do married friends, and none of my close friends have children.

20 years ago this would be unthinkable. Today, I really and truly think this is becoming a cause for turmoil and confusion for a lot of women.

I spent most of my 20’s living by a fairly feminist doctrine. Marriage was barely on my radar – let alone kids. It always seemed like a possibility in the distant future, but nothing even close to a realistic option until I met and fell in love with Schmerson.

Women in their late 20’s and early thirties – or at least my friends – who I admit come usually from well-to-do, highly educated families – are – in my opinion – getting smacked upside their heads by their biological clocks.

We were raised in a post-feminist generation. Ally McBeal, Buffy Summers, Veronica Mars, Elle Woods, and Rory Gilmore were our role models. Yes, sometimes those chicks got the guy. But you never saw Buffy thinking about a wedding. She was too busy kicking vampire ass. Veronica Mars in a wedding dress? I think not. Heck, going even further back, even Kelly Taylor told Dylan and Brandon “I choose me” back in the day.

I could spend hours making pop-culture reference upon pop-culture reference. Lord knows I love that. But I’ll spare you all and try (somehow!) to get to a point here.

I honestly do believe we are – on a lot of levels- a product of the pop culture that we consume.

Our fantasies are based on the ideals fed to us by the flickering images we watched on screens.

Just like every woman fantasized about being Donna Reed in the 50’s, I’m sure that the over achieving Rory Gilmores, Joey Potters, and yes, even Cher Horowitzes I saw flickering on screens for so many years made an impression on me.

To make matters “worse” – I minored in women’s studies in college.

And just in case not enough fuel was added to the fire, like a lot of my friends, my mother was – most of the time – a housewife.

So I rebelled – all of my 20’s were spent chasing a career. I in particular chose film – which is basically one of the hardest “careers” to actually achieve statistically. But I was invincible! I was unstoppable! I was going to conquer the world!

For two years during my first degree I researched female film directors – or lack thereof.

You would find me saying – at least twice a week – “do you realize that only two female directors have ever been nominated for an oscar?” “Do you know that only 4% of all working directors in Hollywood are women?”

Yes, Kathryn Bigelow finally broke the so-called “glass ceiling” this year with her win for hurt locker. But let’s be honest – this does not mean that things have changed much.

But I’m getting away from myself. I’ve spent the last two years having an interior battle with myself. I believe that this battle has been in large part responsible for the general feeling of “being stuck”. I’m torn. Is there really a way to have it all?

I’d always had this fantasy that the man I would marry would be a “house-husband.” I would bring home the bacon, he would take care of the kids. All would be well.

But it turns out the “who brings home the bacon” issue isn’t really the problem.

From the moment I realized that I wanted to be a mommy – I knew I wanted to be a “present” mommy.

I remember as a kid – my dad was never ever home. He barely had a hand in raising me until about the age of 14. The result is – inevitably – that I am far closer and more attached to the parent that was “present” – my mother. I love her more than anything – I would do anything for her.

I honestly can’t say the same about my father. I would never confide in him the way I do in her. I don’t feel as safe with him as I do with her.

I don’t want to be my dad (hell to the no! but that’s a different post altogether). I want to be a present parent. an active parent. I may want to work – but how in the heck can I “be a mega-superstar-film-director” and be a mommy?

Directors don’t sleep. They’re sometimes gone on shoots for months at a time. They’re shut away in editing bays and sound stages.

This was the ton of bricks that dropped on me about two years ago. Just as i was realizing that I wanted to marry Schmerson. And just as a feature I was working on was starting to come together.

Immediately the film project fell apart. And i haven’t been able to get it together since (get it together in the broad sense – not just that particular project).

It’s only now that I’m starting to realize the connection between these two events.

I kept on telling myself “I’m going to be a director” but I kept on feeling “I’m going to be a mommy”. For the last two years – those two thoughts have been basically canceling each other out.

Yes, there have been other factors – a sudden loss of confidence in my abilities amongst them – but at the end of the day I can’t ignore the coincidence here. The timing is just a bit too perfect.

You know, I have a tendency to end these posts lately with some sort of conclusion or revelation.

I don’t have one here. I honestly don’t. I think this is going to be part of my struggle. I don’t want to be my mother. I don’t want to be my father.  (oh! any psychology majors currently reading this are probably having a field day!)

I want a fulfilling career, and I want to be a mother that is always around and can be counted on. I’m going to have to figure out how to navigate that one.

Any suggestions will be happily accepted, then I’m sure – eventually forgotten somewhere between a sound mix and diaper change.

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