Film Debuts and Saving the World


I am having myself a lazy weekend, people. How lazy, you ask? Two words, people, two words:
  1. Pan.
  2. Cakes.
Oh yeah. That bad. If I have the presence of mind and heartiness of spirit to invest time and eggs in making (baking?) pancakes, it is a time-taking weekend indeed.

This may simply be fall-out from the end of my week, and energy-storing for the start of the next. Monday Heather and I are driving off to Philadelphia to teach a three-hour workshop in physical theatre to actual, really-real professional actors like ourselves. (Possibly entirely unlike ourselves, potentially higher-earning, better-looking professional actors...but I'm trying not to linger on such possibilities.) All this is to serve the goal of In Bocca al Lupo and its endless hunger for virgin souls. Our students always think it's a joke, or some Suzuki-inspired training technique ("I saw Bogart make her actors do this once!") when we tie them to a giant stake and run away. Oh no. When we say "into the mouth of the wolf," we're being more literal than you imagine, and we don't want to be around when the beast emerges to slake its thirst for actor sanguine...

And, of course, Friday was the last day of my classes up at Validus Preparatory Academy, in the Bronx. Our film-making students showed their work (well, their film...Alex and I [and ultimately: Alex] ended up editing their work together) to the rest of their school and visiting parents and funders. My bosses, Wingspan Arts, were there as well. All-in-all, it went well, though it went long. Every "community class" showed something, from karate, to poetry, to fiction, to hip-hop, African drumming, capoeira, etc. We sort of kicked it off, though, and I think got everyone into a good mood for the rest. During the semester, Alex divided the class into two groups--fiction and documentary--since I was there for coverage. Her group of four documentarians showed their film first, an interview piece about the decision to have sex. Next was my group of anywhere-from-six-to-ten, depending-on-who-managed-to-slip-out-of-their-other-community-class, who made a "feature" (read: random capturing of celebrated moments) about sports; specifically basketball and football. It was a hit, I'd judge. Five minutes of hero-worship and good-natured foppery. Yes, my Freshmen managed to get comfortable enough in their own skins to even fop a bit, and have it shown to their peers.

But it was five minutes. The movie, when it left my hands at 9:00pm Wednesday night, was about fifteen minutes long. I knew it was going to be cut down drastically. Alex informed me earlier in that week that we didn't have the time for the whole thing. She also told me that the administrator of Wingspan wanted her to do the final edit so the two would be "stylistically consistent." I buy this for one minute not, says I, but I'm new here and frankly already worked on the film harder than someone getting paid $35 a week ought. So I complied, simultaneously informing Alex that I didn't believe the excuse of stylistic consistency. What's done is done. I tried to make my film about conflict resolution, including a real fight between two boys in my class (with the participants' consent) and ending in their playing happily with a whole other school. What was shown on Friday was probably more what everyone wanted: a playful sampling of boys at play.

And so this weekend I did work, but honestly, played more. This past week my City of Heroes account was reactivated (thanks be to you, Hubbardses) and, though I'm now sharing it with a person or two, that means I have yet another fantasy world to escape into when I'm at home amidst all my facilities. Which isn't necessarily a helpful thing (and rarely ever productive) but this weekend I just didn't care. For the un-indoctrinated, City of Heroes is an online game in which one creates a superhero and busts heads (you can also make a character who heals heads and guides heads but...come on), all amidst a very realistically rendered world (apart from all the freaky superheroes running about) and in time with other players. It's a geek's paradise. I don't even get all the various game controls and menus. It's that geek chic.

Incidentally, did you know the word, "superhero," is shared under joint copyright by DC and Marvel comics? No joke. So whatever you do, don't pay me for this article.

Perhaps there's a certain hypocrisy to my intentions of making a student video about conflict resolution, and then going home and giddily blasting the snot out of "criminals." In CoH (you are in on one more useless web abbreviation), the generic criminals at large are designated by wearing hats and orange/red signature clothing. You don't have to find probable cause, you don't have to read them their rights or understand their feelings, you just find them and ambush them. But the relationship is simple in this way, and that can be refreshing at times. Neither of you is trying to get money from the other without being direct about it. Neither of you is circumventing notorious artistic temperament with excuses steeped in aesthetic issues. Neither of you wants anything more than to kill the other. Okay. Go.

Speaking of which, I have to go. I have to return the hard drive I bought for the film project to Circuit City. (Store motto: "We won't call it 'renting' so we feel better about it.") I've burned a DVD of my original film; there is a record. Then I have to get to Kinko's to place the order for brochures for our workshop in Philadelphia.

Then I've got a date with Adam to kill lots and lots of aliens.
 
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