Wednesday, February 21, 2007

So, I made a movie. It's called Sad Times Together. I made it with some people for the class, Art Media Praxis, that I got kicked out of. I worked absurdly hard on it, and in doing so, I learned a lot. It was a learning experience.

Tomorrow/today it's going to be shown to the class. The people I worked with are going to get school credit for it, I won't. That's fine- It's a learning experience.

The thing is that it's all fucked up. It's got its flaws. They're all over the thing, they're almost innumerable.

First off, I'll say what it got right. It's a comedy, and it's funny, I like the jokes in it. I can barely discern them anymore, because I've done the editing and looked all over, and some of the jokes are tiny and unnoticeable. I've looked at so many computer screens I don't even want to look at this one, right now, as I type.

Holy shit I worked so hard on it. It's part of an installation- One of the things in this installation is a cassette tape recording of a voice pressuring you to smoke weed, because that's something a character does to another character in the movie. The actor who played the weed-smoking character didn't want to do the voice. So I did the tape, I improvised for close to two hours, talking about smoking pot. Which I don't do. It's pretty funny. No one will listen to the entirety of the tape. I did that recording tonight, while the DVDs burned.

The character who pressures someone to smoke weed is named Jorge. The character is a guy of English descent speaking with an affected accent. One of the things I'm worried about is someone getting offended. Not because it's racist- I'm afraid of someone being offended because it's stupid, and couching their offense by saying it's racist. Which I don't think it actually is.

But I don't think I'll be able to be around to make this distinction. The teachers do not want me around, they might kick me off campus. The movie and the installation is mostly me, mostly my voice, and I am the loudest and most articulate person involved in its production, and so I really want to be there to say "hey wait, this isn't racist, this is just stupid, let's at least be honest here." I don't think I'll be able to.

The thing was mine. A lot of the jokes are mine, not all of them. The characters- holy shit so much of it is me. I'm all over the fucking thing. I did the majority of the editing. But- I didn't do all of it. And I didn't really write a script, most of the thing's improvised- I fed people lines but still. There was one scene where a script was insisted on, I wrote one, and then it kind of got garbled and fucked up anyway. Stuff went unshot due to the unpaid actors being in a rush to get out and really just the constant fear of deadline.

I worked harder on it than my other collaborators, and I was the one least afraid of a deadline. I knew I'd be able to work on it and get it done. And I thought this as someone who'd never edited video before.

Because I'd never edited video before, I made a lot of first-time mistakes. Looking over the thing, it's ridiculously fast. Everything seems like cross-cutting, like things are happening simultaneously, due to the lack of establishing shots, or anything done for pacing- I think part of it was that I couldn't work out how to turn establishing shots into jokes.

For some reason, the movie Caddyshack ended up at the top of the Netflix queue and shipping. I started to know as I approached finishing that I would want to watch Caddyshack at the end of it. (Note: Caddyshack isn't my favorite movie by a long shot, it's my brother's, I kind of struggle to find the jokes in it.) I only watched a little bit, but- Yeah, like having a lightswitch flipped- okay that is how you edit a comedy and give it a pace. It's funny- Taking all the film theory classes and reading criticism etc. definitely informed the making of the movie, and making the editing and framing choices that I did make, but the major things that I missed and then learned got reinforced immediately while watching the first ten minutes of Caddyshack. (After that I tried to fall asleep, and failed.)

The movie i's a little less than twenty minutes long, and the thing was made in a little less than two weeks, pretty much. Which is an accomplishment- it is pretty long but it is just so rushed. My short stories and novels have the same kind of stupid pacing, but I think I can fix these problems in film after a few more tries.

Another reason my eyes burn is because I decided to send out MySpace bulletins out promoting it. I couldn't talk shit in it there, I didn't want to apologize for it. Although I need to, because it's so fucked up.

I didn't do all of the editing. I left four scenes to one of my collaborators. Those scenes have a somewhat different rhythm, there's a different eye approaching them. I think it's not unlikely I'll go back and reedit it to my own sense of rhythm, after tomorrow's installation.

I'm all over the place in this writing. I really am quite anxious, my insides feel awful.

I kind of wrote it, there are things in it that I wanted to say. But I left it to other people to say them, or at least I depended on them somewhat to know what I was saying, but I never articulated my point enough for it to be understood. And now it's garbled to the point of not even really being able to be discerned. I tried to put as much content as I could in the thing, but there's points where it just collapses.

God, collaborating. I like it a lot in some ways, but there's this problem- There's things that are too corny to say out loud, that you try to say with art, but in collaborating with someone else you kind of need to say them, to state what's important, to be honest for the sake of being on the same page. With every point a close collaborator misses there's a part of the movie that breaks.

I can fix some of the problems with editing- I can give it a more consistent tone and maybe a more measured pace but that's not the only problem. There's still the problem that if people think it's stupid, they're not wrong.

There's lessons and I learned them, but right now, I am dreading tomorrow to the point where I can't fall asleep.

I like the people I worked with a lot. I should say that. I think they're fun, and the movie wouldn't exist at all without them, and I need the movie to exist in order to learn what I needed to learn. The only issue is one I would probably have with almost anyone- The old unbridgeable chasm between two people. I don't actually think it's unbridgeable. But these people are my friends and I tried to keep it light and just say "hey this is a comedy" and the only question I will ever ask is "is this funny" and so something gets lost. It's the old shallowness to friendships that leads to me looking at MySpace as I send out these bulletins and wondering how many of these people I'm actually friends with and genuinely like.

They're also friends so I don't want to go insane with perfectionist tendencies and get mad.

The thing I'm most happy with about the movie is that the title is "Sad Times Together" and that's mostly (not strictly) a Hold Steady reference. And again, some of the jokes. This is not enough to massage my intestines to a state of flow and normalcy. I am going to go to the bathroom now, and hopefully after that I'll be able to sleep soundly.

There are parts of my mind that are already moving on to the next thing, something weird and private that I can trust.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

I want to write these books, but there are no words for them right now.

I had one of those days where a large chunk of your life collapses- Related to going to school, I got kicked out of the class I was going to. For real this time, for serious. I'm still working on a film project with other people in the class, but I need to do other things as well. Whatever. I've been taking that in stride since this morning, talk to me on the phone or in person and I'll explain what happened.

I did go to class today though, which is how they found me and told me to get lost. And before doing that I went to the computer center to print out my assignments. That was the most recent time I checked that e-mail account until just now, where I found another e-mail, allegedly from myself, that I did not send. It was titled "turn turn" and had text that said "Finally. I've been waiting my owl life to meet you."

In all likelihood this is either something attacking a bunch of hotmail accounts or it's someone who got onto hotmail after me because I didn't close things out properly. I don't think that happened, but it's possible.

It pretty much unnerved me, being on some last three David Lynch movies identity-doubling tip. Also there was an allusion to owls, which makes me think of Twin Peaks. "The owls are not what they seem."

But I switched my password up and I have other e-mail accounts. I will try to take this in stride.

I did a nice little bit of writing today, coming up with a crazy person's talking-to-herself monologue for the movie. One line of which is "It's too late in the day for a McGriddle and too early in the year for a shamrock shake" which I think we can all relate to.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

The Sarah Silverman Program that premiered on Comedy Central on Thursday is my new favorite TV show, I'm pretty sure. When I saw Jesus Is Magic, I didn't laugh as much as I should've because I was familiar with so much of the material already, but this format works really well. A really great cast, and a really great creative voice, and in the premiere at least, there was really cool Rob Schrab animation. The tone forsakes ironic bigotry almost completely in favor of a tone that is basically that of the Stella TV show but with more obvious jokes. (And now that I think about it, the structure, with the larger supporting cast, helps it out too in contrast with Stella's focus.) And on the next one Zach Galifianakis plays a homeless person! I love it!

I also love the internet Maria Bamford Show:

I saw the movie Brick, which, at the time of its release, seemed like the criticisms people were having were pretty valid. Then it made some end-of-the-year top ten lists which made me check it out. I think it's a bit overstylized and kind of doesn't work in terms of actually creating a world. It takes cliches and then recontextualizes them into a place where they don't make sense.

I also got the Saturday Night Live Best of TV Funhouse DVD, which has a handful of great special features but is on the whole really uneven. If I were to take the time and go through the DVD I could probably edit together a sweet hour-long VHS tape, with all of the point of view and conceptual hahas and none of the unfunny sexual innuendo.