Saturday, October 31, 2009

Austin Film Festival (part 1)

Since I don't have enough time to describe my entire trip to Austin in detail in one sitting, I'll just start with what I can now and then add more posts later.

Since we knew we wanted to be in Austin early in the day to get as much out of the festival as possible, the eight of us piled into two cars and left Norman at 4 am on Thursday morning to drive down to Austin. It was a long drive... mostly because I tried to stay awake the whole time for our driver's sake and so I only napped for the last hour.

Once in Austin, we checked into our quaint little La Quinta ten minutes from downtown (next time we do this, I think we are all definitely forking over the extra money to stay downtown-- it would save so much time and we'd be able to get more sleep), spruced up a bit, and then headed to the Driskill Hotel, AFF headquarters.

The Driskill is this gorgeous turn-of-the-century hotel with marble floors, crystal chandeliers, and stained glass window. Check-in was downstairs in a small room off the lobby, along with a little cafe that charged too much for a cup of bitterly strong black coffee. At the end of the lobby was a grand staircase, which we got to walk up every day, since most of the convention rooms were upstairs (although a few were in another hotel down the block).

To be continued...

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Please Do Not Accept

Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize. Ridiculous.

Reasons I feel that this is less than awesome:

1.) The nomination window for Nobel Peace Prize recipients closed only eleven days after Obama was elected President. This means that he was nominated based on his campaign promises, and not anything he has actually accomplished.

2.) There is no way Obama belongs in the same group as Mother Theresa and Nelson Mandela. I'm not saying that he never will. But right now he doesn't.

3.) Being recognized for his peaceful actions could create potential problems for Obama's presidency... when the need arrises for the US government to exercise its force, he may be hindered by his promises for peace, etc.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


"You can lead a horticulture, but you can't make her think."

-Dorothy Parker when asked to use horticulture in a sentence.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

. . .

"Oh you people who dog-ear your papers . . . Thousands on your education but you can't afford a stapler."

-- Professor Metcalf, 20th Century America Through Film prof.

Words of Truth

"You can tell a lot about a fellow's character by his way of eating jellybeans." -Ronald Reagan

More on OU, I Love You

You know how last spring I produced OU, I Love You with my film club? Know how we based it off Paris, je t'aime, an anthology of short films about love set in Paris?

Well, the production company that made Paris, je t'aime made a New York, I Love You (set to come out on Oct. 16th) and they have plans for three more films (set in Rio, Shanghai, and Jerusalem, respectively). The umbrella project is called Cities of Love, and the producer for the projects is Emmanuel Benbihy.

There is an article about him and their projects on MovieMaker's website. The article is really interesting and lays out their plans to continue their project.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Sphinx in California

So did y'all know that there is a Sphinx in California?

I'm reading this article about how history is subjective and re-tells itself and about how we live in a society where people view themselves as being a part of history. It's fascinating.

But anyway, I'm reading along, plugging through dense sentences with words like "confabulate" and "multifarious," and this entertaining story pops up in the article:

In 1923, Cecil B. DeMille directed the film epic The Ten Commandments outside Guadalupe, California. In order to make his film truly unique and "historically accurate," DeMille built, from scratch, an almost-exact replica of parts of the City of the Pharaoh, complete with walls that "rose 110 feet and sprawled 750 feet in width, its entrance flanked by 21 sphinxes and four 35-foot Pharaoh statues." All this was done in wood and plaster-of-paris at a whopping cost of $1.4 million (the most expensive film set ever built in Hollywood).

The best part of this story, however, is not that DeMille built this spectacular set, although that's really neat. The best part is that he had the city buried after wrapping up filming, supposedly so that no one could come in and film on the set before the release of his film.

And so, after only a few months of sunlight, this giant plaster-of-paris "Egyptian" city was buried from sight, where it remained under the sands of Californial for sixty years... until Peter Brosnan, a screenwriter, teacher and documentary-filmmaker decided to dig it up in 1983. Brosnan had the area declared a federally-protected archeological site (which makes it a felony to take anything from the site without permission) and tried to raise money to hold an official excavation of the land (which requires special chemicals to harden the plaster enough to dig it up).

Apparently after twenty years he is still trying to raise money for the excavation, which is rather a shame. I personally think it would fascinating and fun to get the chance to see this giant city of plaster constructed merely for one movie. Once they dig it up, maybe they can transport the sphinxes to one of the theme parks nearby so they can be enjoyed by all.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Another Weekend Gone

The problem with weekends in college is that they are really only one day long and not two. Sunday doesn't count as a free day, because half of it is spent in the library preparing for the next week and doing the homework due on Monday. 

But anywho... enough complaining. 

Writer's Block

On Saturday, one of my professors held a "Writer's Block" party at his house. He holds these at least three or so times a semester and invites writers, filmmakers and artists (basically anyone with a creative bent) from all over Oklahoma to come to the parties. In short, they are well-structured networking opportunities.

At one point, my professor stopped conversation and had everyone introduce themselves to the group and talk about what projects they are working on. As new people would arrive, we would repeat the process, also showing the short films of some people, etc. It was great fun getting to know all different sorts of people.

For example, there was a writer there who had just gotten his book picked up by a publisher. The book is called Hobo-sapiens, and its a memoir of the two decades of his life that he spent riding the rails as a hobo. He read us the rough draft of the back cover of his book, and the last sentence said, "Not many people can say they went from Yale to rail and from hunk to monk." Basically, if the book is anything like the back cover, it should be an entertaining read. It also sounds like it might be a sort of self-help book. I'd be curious to read it.

[Note: This same fellow also spends his summers driving busses in an Alaskan State Park for $25 an hour -- a small portion of which he spends on room and board per day ($15- less than an hour's wage) at the park.]

I also met a woman who teaches both a film class and a television/broadcasting class at one of the local high schools. I had no idea there were film classes in the high school, or I definitely would have tried to volunteer there earlier. As it is, I got her contact information and I am going to try to come to the high school for an hour a week and talk with her kids about the film program at OU and also critique their projects if they'd like me to. It sounds like great fun... I can't wait!

I am also kicking around the idea of starting a sort of after-school program with the high school kids where we would work on writing and creating quality short films. The only problem with this idea is that it would really require a car-- something I am sadly without.

About Me

... A few thoughts to pass the time...