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Tag Archives: film

Plug From a Past Life

24 Oct

So if any of you are remotely interested in my past life as a writer/director, and are also in the mood for a slightly depressing, but pretty well made (if I do say so myself) short film involving a teen love story during the Holocaust…

I just found out my Master’s Thesis Film is available on iTunes.

Have at it if you like, but do have some tissues handy…

ūüôā

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And Then I Had a Talk With Silent Bob

19 Sep

So I barely blog for a month and then I hit you with a doozy. Sorry about that! Anywhozers, fasten your seatbelts and pour yourself a glass of something – this is going to be a long-ass bit of film geekery.

There’s this thing I do when I’m feeling particularly down. I latch on to a specific, book, tv series, whatever, and just stick with it – sometimes for weeks at a time.

I’ve done it with the Harry Potter series a ¬†dozen or so times. the Hunger Games Trilogy, the Twilight books (I know! Don’t judge me!), Dr. Who…

I just power through them and ONLY them and just escape into that world. They help me get past the hump of whatever hard time I’m going through. For example – during the first month after losing Nadav I re-watched all six season of Dr. Who. Once I was done gobbling that up, I dove right back into The Hunger Games. These have always been the easiest way for me to escape reality for a little bit. To get out of my own head.

After revisiting The Hunger Games for the third time a few months ago, I was kind of at a loss as to what to escape into next. That’s when I found Hollywood Babble-On.

It’s a podcast that features Kevin Smith and Ralph Garman, basically just shooting the shit about entertainment news. And it caused me to laugh out loud for the first time in who knows how long.

I love Kevin Smith. I have for years and years. I just never imagined that he – of all people – would be the one to help me get through Nadav’s due date, and inspire me to get off my ass and take my not-a-bucket list seriously.

I’ve always seen Kevin Smith as a somewhat kindred spirit. First off, when I was still in undergrad film school, a couple of my friends dubbed me “The Female Kevin Smith”. Second, we’re both self-admittedly fat and lazy, and we both cried at the end of “Toy Story 3”.

I loved his movies when I was in film school. True story: I was living in Philly during the filming of “Jersey Girl” and wasn’t hired after an interview to intern in the art department (I think the woman who interviewed me sensed I was a rabid fan girl). I somehow managed to forgive Mr. Smith and his compatriots for¬†that one slip-up, though.

But I digress, as usual. Let me fill you guys in on some background information that I don’t often share on this blog.

I went to film school for 7 fucking years. Yep, SEVEN YEARS.

In undergrad, I was a superstar. I got all the scholarships, won all of the awards, everybody freaking loved me. I used that as leverage and got accepted to “Grad School X” – AKA “one of the best film schools in the world” (I will not mention the name here because I have very few nice things to say about it).

Then, I crashed and burned.

Here I was, coming from a place where I was “the best”, entering a place where everyone was on my level or better. I felt under pressure to be “the best” again. I was too fucking busy trying to prove to everyone how good I was and I completely forgot to not give a shit about what they thought. As a result, I lost everything that made me a good director. I lost everything that made my films MINE.

Case in point: For my graduate thesis, I made a Holocaust film. It was a year and a half in the making, and I gave everything to that freaking movie.

But the thing is, I didn’t shoot the draft of the script that I really loved.

The draft I really loved had the word “fuck” in it. Like, a lot.

But of course you can’t get name actors or funding for a Holocaust film with the word “fuck” in it. I was competing against a bunch of rich kids with endless resources, and I needed to fundraise everything through strangers’ donations.¬†So I cleaned it up. I watered it down.

Though I’m proud of it sometimes, other times I hate that film. It represents me giving up a huge chunk of my identity. Sure, it won a couple of prizes, ¬†but it sure as hell didn’t restore the confidence that was shat on during my two and a half years in grad school.

After that ego-crushing trauma, I packed my bags and moved back to Israel. I had the pedigree of “one of the best film schools in the world” going for me, but my confidence was shot to hell, as was my passion. I was tired. I didn’t know who I was any more. I just wanted to fucking sleep.

I started on a few projects that fizzled. I even got development money for a couple of them.

Then I had my first miscarriage.

Before I married Shmerson I was working as the content director in this very high-stress job. Then the company fizzled, I became unemployed, we got married, and soon after that I was knocked up. I had always had this little fantasy about being pregnant: I could eat anything I wanted without feeling guilty, and I would lay in bed, nurturing my growing belly, while writing the film that would be my first feature.

As most of you know, that growing belly never emerged. That fantasy never came to life. Instead – I went through two years of hell chasing the take-home-baby dragon. I decided that screw it all – I want to be a mother, and mothers can’t be filmmakers.

So somewhere in these last two years I let that dream go for good. Looking back on it now, I think it was that first miscarriage that officially put me off making movies, because apparently, I can’t deal with things not going exactly as I thought they would. I’m working on that.

Which brings me back to Kevin Smith.

After listening to a couple of dozen podcasts, I downloaded his audiobook – “Tough Sh-t”, which is pretty funny and even dispenses some handy advice.

Then, with all of the stories about his films still running through my mind, I decided to re-watch all of them. In chronological order.

In Smith’s first “Jersey Trilogy” (Clerks, Mallrats, Chasing Amy), the character he plays – Silent Bob – doesn’t say a word until somewhere in the third act. Then he finally opens his mouth and spouts a monologue of Jedi-Master proportions, leading the main character to some sort of revelation.

As each of Smith’s films unfolded before me, I found myself looking at his journey as a filmmaker, and building a Silent Bob monologue of my very own. One that woke me up for the first time in a long time.

“Clerks” is not a great piece of filmmaking. The acting is pretty terrible, the cinematography is shaky, and the dialogue is sometimes trite. But you know what? That film has some motherfucking balls. And it made me laugh. A lot. The man decided to make a movie, he got a bunch of his friends to help him, maxed out some credit cards, and he freaking made a movie. That takes cagones.

“Mallrats” was deemed a failure when it was released. I honestly love that movie, despite its flaws. It’s the type of film I used to want to make. It takes everything I loved from the “Clerks” universe, and puts it in an Amy Heckerling package (oh! Check out my name-dropping! Amy Heckerling is the amazingly talented woman who wrote and directed one of my favorite movies of all time – “Clueless“).

“Chasing Amy” was always billed as Smith’s “Comeback Film” after “Mallrats” tanked. As I watched it all I could think about was what Smith said in the audiobook. How he gave up a paycheck to cast who he wanted in this film. How he proved everyone wrong and made a fucking great movie on his terms.

Dogma” is a freaking masterpiece. I could go on for hours about it. I’ve loved it since I first saw it in a theater back in 1999, if for no other reason than the fact that Alanis Morissette was cast as God. Here was another example of the man not caring about what other people thought, and look at the cinematic and satiric gold that emerged.

Then things get murky. Smith himself says that as his film career progressed, he found himself making movies for others more than for himself.

Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back“, as Smith says, is ¬†a love letter to his fans. But you can tell that Smith was losing some of his nerve.

Jersey Girl” has been pretty much panned as a disaster. I honestly love it. If “Strike Back” was a love letter to the fans, this was a love letter to John Hughes. As a huge Hughes fan myself, I couldn’t help but smile, and yes – cry a little bit – as the final scene unfolded to the tune of “Let My Love Open the Door“.

As Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Jersey Girl, Clerks 2, Zack and Miri Make a Por.no and Cop Out unfolded, I thought about how I had fallen into that trap. How every screenplay I had written, every movie idea I came up with, everything I had done with regards to filmmaking – and in my life in general – ¬†in the last seven years had been dictated by what I thought OTHERS expected of me. Every path I had set out for myself was not one I had wanted to travel on. Even the path that was deemed “successful” by “them” (whoever “they” are), was not one I particularly wanted for myself.

Is it any wonder that I lost all passion and motivation for something that I had worked so hard for?

Then came “Red State“. A film that Smith made for himself. Completely free of any studio intervention. A complete 180 from anything he had made before.

“Red State” is mother effing amazing. And you know what else? Smith says that after “Red State”, he’s got one more movie in him and he’s done. He’s moving on to other things. He didn’t take the path of being a film studio slave and forever making movies he didn’t want to make. He’s blazing (literally sometimes) his own trail, finding ways of doing what he loves and getting paid for it.

As the credits rolled, it all came together. Silent Bob had made his point.

“Fuck it all,’ he told me. “If you want to make a movie, make one. You know what? How about starting with just writing one? Just because things didn’t work out the way you fantasized about doesn’t mean that they can’t be good. You dreamt about lying in bed, pregnant, writing a screenplay. The next time you’re pregnant, you have no choice but to lie in bed, so fucking write a screenplay. You’re going to have all the time in the world and no excuses, so just fucking do it. Don’t worry about how much it will cost to produce. Don’t worry about whether it will get made, or win awards, or be a complete failure.

You went to film school because you loved movies. You still do. You still have that feature film in you. Just make it happen, on your terms. Fuck it all and do something that will make you happy. And while you’re at it – how about growing a pair right now and doing something you love?”

Or to quote directly from Mr. Smith’s book:

“Embrace a reasonable amount of un-reasonability.”

For the first time in a long time, I truly want to make a movie. I know I have a story to tell. I don’t quite know how I’m going to tell it. But I know it’s time I start figuring it out.

And before I do that, I have a freaking podcast to produce. Because I wanted to do it. And so I grew a set and did it. Thanks to Silent Bob.

Thank you, Mr. Smith, for reminding me that I have passion.

Thank you, sir.

*Credits*

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!

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 Рif 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. ūüôā

Random Stuff That Annoys the Heck Out of Me

11 Feb

I’ve been pretty optimistic around here lately, so I figured I would take a break from happy go lucky and revert for a second to my old cynical self, you know, just for the fun of it because it’s nice to vent sometimes. I’m having a good day, I swear.

So, for your reading pleasure, here’s a list of stuff that annoys the heck out of me.

1) People who say that they are 200% sure, or one hundred and… 35! percent positive about something. This makes no sense to me in any context. Ever. You want to be emphatic about something? Use some adjectives. Don’t know any? Buy a Thesaurus. Heck you don’t even have to buy one. They have them online for free now.

2) The phrase “threw me under the bus.” I don’t know why. I just hate it.

3) People who go on trips and only take pictures of the view. Hundreds of them. And then insist that I look at them all. If you catch a particularly beautiful sunset, then sure, snap a picture, I’ll be happy to see that. But I don’t need to see every freakin’ mountain or old church that you visited. Unless you posed in front of it. Then I get to see that you had fun, which is nice. So yeah, just show me those. Ok?

4) Shows that preview what’s coming up “after the break” for five minutes, then cut to commercials, come back, and show five minutes of “before the break”. I get it, you have no real content on your show, and therefore need to produce a heck of a lot of filler. But I am not a fish. Therefore, I have a memory that lasts longer than 30 seconds. Thanks.

5) Ignorant people that have a public platform and spread lies and paranoia (*cough* Glenn Beck *cough* Michelle Bachmann).

6) Ignorant people who have a self-righteous “opinion” on things they have no knowledge about. Like global warming, or evolution, ¬†or international politics. If you want to be radical about it, please do your research. For example, whenever I tell someone I live in Israel, I always have a slight pang of fear that the person will automatically judge me in a negative light. This place has a complicated history, and a lot of times people who like to take up “fashionable causes” decide to form an opinion without having any of the facts, and more importantly, without actually having LIVED here. I have, unfortunately, been treated very badly by strangers simply for making the mistake of telling them that I’m Israeli.¬†I’m not crazy about the war in Afghanistan, but I will not blame every American I meet for it. I personally think the global economic crisis was completely Wall Street’s fault. However, I do not randomly insult and curse out stock brokers. I have my political opinions, but I never mention them here because a: I don’t want to bring hatred into this blog (any time somebody comes in with one opinion about Israel, it is inevitable that someone who disagrees will start a violent flame war in the comments. This is why I avoid the Huffington Post’s international section like the plague), and b: I myself am not sure about my opinion. I live in a complex environment. I have arguments that justify both sides. I dislike radicalism, whether it’s on the left or on the right of any topic. But I do love my country, despite (and sometimes because) of its many flaws.¬†End rant.¬†Now back to our regularly scheduled list.

7) People who grew up rich and entitled, and treat people who aren’t as rich or entitled as lesser human beings.

8 ) Child beauty pageants. They creep me out.

9) Those courses on “how to pick up women”. There are some exceptions, but most of them are courses on “how to dehumanize women and possibly rape them”.

10) Snooki. And the American obsession with Snooki. (Can someone please explain that to me? And am I perpetuating said obsession simply by bringing her up?)

11) Facebook friends who you dislike but accepted their request just to be polite, and then, they butt into your funny conversations with remarks that prove they obviously have no idea what you’re talking about and they’re just trying to make you like them more. News Flash: it doesn’t work.

12) Bad sequels for films that were bad to begin with. Bad remakes of films that were bad to begin with. Bad film remakes of TV shows that may have been good 20 years ago, but don’t stand the test of time.

13) The fact that “MTV” stands for “Music Television” and VH1 stands for “Video Hits One” and yet neither of them show music videos. They should be called BITV – “Bad Influence Television” and ERTV – “Exploitative Reality Television”.

14) People who send me requests on a daily basis to go help them harvest their virtual pumpkins on their virtual farms. I like some facebook apps. But if I haven’t added them, that means I have no interest in them. These requests will only make me hide you on my news page. Kthnxbye.

15) People who become mega-famous recording artists due to brain-numbing repetitive lyrics, auto-tune, and creative stylists (*cough* Ke$ha *cough*).

16) People who go to India for a month, and come back as vegetarians with dreadlocks and tye-dyed clothes, claiming to be “enlightened”. One month in a youth hostel avoiding salmonella does not a spiritual awakening make.

17) People who judge me for taking anti-depressants and anti-anxiety meds. That is the only reason I keep this blog anonymous.

18) Dog owners who let their dogs run free in the streets – ¬†where there are (surprise!) fast-moving cars. ¬†‘Nough said.

19) The media’s recent fascination with pregnancy. Written about it here too much already, but it’s worth mentioning again.

20) Any film that has “in 3D” in the title. If it has to be in huge letters on your movie poster, chances are your movie sucks and you’re trying to salvage revenue by making it 3D after the fact.

21) The invention of “rehab” as a magical solution for any celebrity who gets caught in a bad situation. I don’t think there was anything called “sex rehab” before Tiger Woods needed it. But if I ever become famous, I’ll make sure to shoplift some Oreos at a 7-11 and check myself into “cookie rehab.” ¬†Or maybe I’ll dine and dash at an Olive Garden and check myself into “pasta and breadsticks” rehab. Or maybe I’m just hungry.

22) Possible compensation for a small you-know-what ¬†#1: ¬†Men who use the fact that they’re “In charge” of something or the “founders” of something, no matter how trivial that “something” is, to be megalomaniacal a-holes.

23) Possible compensation for a small you-know-what #2: Hummers. You live in a city. Most likely a city with tiny parking spaces. Taking up two of them while wrecking the environment does not make you more manly. It makes you a douche.

24) Possible compensation for a small you-know-what #3: Men who speak to me as if I’m an idiot, and make me feel the need to glue my master’s degree on my chest in an effort to make them realize that I have a brain somewhere above my gigantic breasts. (yeah, they’re DD’s. Shmerson’s happy about that. I’m afraid of sagging. Ahh well).

25) People who try to convert me to their religion. I am a heathen. Yes, I do on occasion seek spirituality (so far without much luck), but please don’t look at me with pity in your eyes, or try to take advantage of my existential crises to make me join your flock. I’m not a sheep. I’m more of a bunny. Unllike Anya, I like bunnies. They’re cute.

(I’ve been looking for an excuse to embed that.)

26) People with absolutely no background, experience, or education in film, that all of the sudden decide to “direct” (I’m talking to you, Tyra Banks!)

This is just wrong. On so many different levels.

27) The fact that when you make numbered lists on wordpress, and you get to #8, you have to put a space between the “8” and the “)” because otherwise you get this: 8)

28) Miley Cyrus. I don’t think I need to elaborate on that one.

29) People who ask me questions about a movie WHILE WE’RE WATCHING THE MOVIE. Yes, I know I’m the supposed “expert” in the group. However, if you’re wondering about this character or this plot point, then wait. Chances are your question will be answered later in the film. And if it wasn’t, either the film sucks or you’re stupid. Either way – let me watch the movie in peace!

30) Those news crawls at the bottom of the screen on all the 24 hour cable news networks. A: They’re distracting. B: Charlie Sheen getting arrested again is not important enough to put in a freakin’ news crawl.

Ok. I think that’s enough.

PS – I think this post proves that I watch too much reality TV. I should stop that.

It’s amazing how simple it is to make me giddy

6 Feb

It’s funny, I was planning on writing my weekly obsession post this week about Wayne’s World, the best. movie. slash. snl. sketch. ever! (yes, don’t judge me).

But I didn’t do a post this week because I was busy with setting up Choco Buddy (have you joined yet? If not, consider yourself guilt-tripped!).

So I come home today, put on this week’s SNL, and then, a moment of pure, unending joy ensues:

OMG I feel like I’m 14 years old watching my WW vhs tapes for the 50th time only now it’s new material!

I’ve watched it three times already and each time I continue to jump up and down in my seat (despite my hurty-back) with pure, unadulterated joy.

*this is me continuing to jump up and down*

*ouch*

*who the heck cares? Party time! Excellent!!!!”*

WOOOOOHOOOOOOO!!!!!!!

 

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.

sleepy time?

30 Jan

Me: Why are you making us blog? I’m soo sooo soooooo tired!

Me: Well, we have to post once a day, remember?

Me: what did we sign that in blood or something?

Me: No but we promised ourselves.

Me: *yawn*

Me: plus we have to thank Elphaba for giving us a bloscar!

Me: She’ll wait. We just spent 12 hours at a screenwriting master seminar on 3 hours sleep, and we have to do it all again tomorrow. Please please let us sleep!

Me: Ok – you can now, because we’ve made this a post and gotten it out of the way.

Me: Then why are we sill having this discussion? *yawn*

Me: beats me.

Me: Ok. Piss off then. Me sleep now.  *snore*

Me: Great now she’s snoring..

Me: *snore*

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  Рthe square peg- into their round-hole-idea of what filmmaking is. That is, of course, unless your parents are rich or famous Рthen 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

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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