...Started teaching again this week.
Wow - time is flying, can't believe the summer is done. Excited about this year though: I'll be teaching a Directing the Actor course to the 1st year graduate students and Editing for Directors as well as Intermediate Avid to the undergraduates.
Still have lots of work to be done on my own projects but thrilled to be back at NYU again this year and working with their students.
I thought the following "rules" from Corita Kent would be an appropriate way to begin the semester:
Immaculate Heart College Art Department Rules
- Find a place you trust and then try trusting it for a while.
- General duties of a student: pull everything out of your teacher, pull everything out of your fellow students.
- General duties of a teacher: pull everything out of your students.
- Consider everything an experiment.
- Be self-disciplined. This means finding someone wise or smart and choosing to follow them. To be disciplined is to follow in a good way. To be self-disciplined is to follow in a better way.
- Nothing is a mistake. There is no win and no fail. There is only make.
- The only rule is work. If you work it will lead to something. It’s the people who do all of the work all the time who eventually catch on to things.
- Don’t try to create and analyse at the same time. They’re different processes.
- Be happy whenever you can manage it. Enjoy yourself. It’s lighter than you think.
- “We’re breaking all of the rules. Even our own rules. And how do we do that? By leaving plenty of room for X quantities.” -John Cage.
- Helpful hints:
- Always be around.
- Come or go to everything always.
- Go to classes.
- Read anything you can get your hands on.
- Look at movies carefully often.
- Save everything, it might come in handy later.
There should be new rules next week.
Shadow & Act began posting a series of interviews called "Finding the New Black" and a recent one covers friend and fellow Brooklynite Terence Nance. His feature film, "Oversimplification of Her Beauty" was a Sundance 2012 selection. Terence is an uber talented filmmaker and I found his comments in the interview inspiring and illuminating.
Near the end of the article he mentions a few of us who live in Brooklyn and often find ourselves on each other's sets, script readings and house parties. I've always been a big believer in community but also know it's difficult to sustain. Terence and the others have done a valiant job of this and I'm excited about the coming work from this group.
Read the full interview here.
New York University's Kanbar Institute of Film and Television - Graduate Division (my alma mater and current employer) has launched a new initiative called the Cinema Research Institute, to bring together academia and the film industry.
At the heart of the initiative are institute fellows the CRI selects and mentors for a year: The fellowship is a year-long program designed to nurture emerging producers with research project-specific support through Labs, grants, and long-term advisory relationships.
I was led to come to John and to give him this idea which I stole from my wife… which was the CRI. The hope of trying to bring together academia and the industry and ultimately government too… and to try and start to imagine a nonpartisan, non-corporatized vision of the cinema future might be.
I'm like every other filmmaker I know... we don't really dig these types of things... But I thought it would be a fitting last hurrah for the project and they've lined up some interesting shorts.
Go take a look.
And while we're here I'd also like to publicly thank the entire cast and crew for their work on this film. It started as a reprieve from the writing I was doing on The American People (I wanted to make something vastly different in story and tone from that project) and I'm grateful for all their prodigious help realizing the film.
I've taken a few days to catch up on sleep so sorry for the delay in posting some pics and a few thoughts from the reading held about a week ago at the 52nd Street Project. Despite the unyielding stress to get the script ready for it I'm so glad they encouraged me to do it now. It was hard, trust me. But I'm happy with what I learned about the script from hearing it with an audience and also thrilled with the work the actors did on the night.
I wrote the following post about the reading for the Sundance Institute blog:
Off the Page
Somewhere they say theater is an actor's medium. I agree. They also say film is a director's medium… agreed again. But what can you say about a theatrical reading of a screenplay?
It's a little bit of both but not enough of either, right?
After a reading of my feature "The American People" at the 52nd Street Project (a wonderful space) I think I found an answer...
After not having slept for twenty-four hours (I was trimming) I worried how helpful I’d be as the director. I was tired. I'd done what I could. So entertaining and moving the audience was up to the actors.
And here's where I remembered a wonderful thing: It's always about the characters (i.e. the actors).
Now, I helped, sort of. I slashed description in the first thirty pages. We rehearsed a bit. But that's it. After the lights dimmed it was on them.
I realized reading my precious screen descriptions was really just about pushing the action forward. It's what the actors/characters did from moment-to-moment that became the heart of it.
They lifted the writing off the page and made it live. They became the characters: They talked to each other; gave each other their eyes; were honest and opened up emotionally (with tears even) when the characters required it.
It was a good night. I heard the film in a new way.
Yep. I'd say the theatrical reading of a screenplay (maybe all of drama) is about the characters. Let 'em loose.
- Beasts of the Southern Wild (Dir. Benh Zeitlin & Writer Lucy Alibar) - Labs Fellows
- Hello I Must Be Going (Dir. Todd Louiso & Writer Sarah Koskoff) - Labs Fellows
- My Brother the Devil (Dir. Sally El Hosaini) - Labs Fellow
- Sleepwalk With Me (Dir. Mike Birbiglia) - Labs Fellow
- An Oversimplification of Her Beauty (Dir. Terence Nance) - Fellow BK filmmaker
- That's What She Said (Dir. Carrie Preston) - performed in Festen together.
- Middle Of Nowhere (Dir. Ava DuVernay) - AFFRM founder
- Red Hook Summer (Dir. Spike Lee) - my NYU professor and former boss
- OK Breathe Auralee (Dir. Brooke Swaney) - NYU Grad Alum
You may have noticed my posting has eased up a bit this month. My apologies. When September came around I resumed my normal duties teaching a few editing courses in the undergraduate film department at NYU.
Additionally, this year I was asked to join the graduate film department teaching a "Directing Actors" class for the 2nd year directing students. Check out who else I'm joining this year on the faculty here.
Soooo.... with my writing on the feature, life and other work I've been a bit swamped.
I'm really enjoying all the teaching though. It always forces me to reexamine what I think I know when I have to explain it to someone else.
The directing actors course is especially gratifying because for me acting is where this life of storytelling began... It's really wonderful to combine the two disciplines I love the most - Acting and Directing.
The Sundance Institute recently posted this great video featuring several of the fellows, advisers and actors from this summer's 2011 Directors Labs and I thought I'd share it here with you.
I have to admit I watched it with a huge smile on my face because for me it was like seeing a photo album from a really cool family reunion you just came from and really really wishing you could go back... such a great place to take risks, learn and grow.