This week, I began to learn.
Orientation Week started on Monday August 26th. We began with staff introductions, program overviews, and a schedule for the week. Then we met our ‘group’ for the week - a random assignment of 6 individuals in the Film MFA. Together, we were tasked with creating a short film by the end of the week.
We had one afternoon to plan it, one morning to shoot it, another morning to edit it, and an extra evening for anything else we needed time for. It was due Friday at noon. It had a few restrictions though:
It must be shot on iPhone,
It must include a BOOK as a prop,
It must include the line “Sorry to bother you”,
It must be 2 - 4 minutes in length.
Upfront, our Orientation Leaders told us to not take the activity too seriously. We all appreciated it as it took a lot of the pressure off of the expectations and encouraged us to get creative and weird with it as long as we were having fun.
We spent our planning session doing some story brainstorming and came out with two ideas we felt were extremely interesting and we could do well. Out group was split on which idea would work better so we put it to a vote. The winner was a story about a woman who is recommended a book and then is unable to get rid of the book. She becomes haunted by it and must find a way to get rid of it.
Overall, the filming process went really well with everyone giving input on how to block, frame, and shoot the scene. We generally agreed on most things and when we didn’t, everyone was willing to compromise. I acted in the role of the one initially recommending the book, which gave me an opportunity to be a bit creepy thanks to Jingwen (one of our team members who did my makeup for the role and generally did the production design for the shoot).
On Friday, all twelve groups had their short films shown back-to-back on a large theatre screen in the Lenfest Center for the Arts. I was excited to see them but set my expectations low, but wow - I was actually impressed by how well everyones’ stories came out. We had some incredibly funny films, some more abstract and well designed films, and some absurd but entertaining ones.
With these as a ‘starting point’, it will be great to watch as each individual filmmaker grows over the next 3+ years of the program.
Besides the video work, we had two ‘mixers’ - Monday night for the Film MFA and Tuesday for the School Of The Arts in general. At the School Of The Arts mixer, I tried my best to focus on meeting new people out of my program that I may not otherwise have the opportunity to meet. I met some really kind and interesting people across writing, theatre (in theatre management, producing, acting, writing, and dramaturgy), visual artists, and even one audio artist.
It is inspiring to look out and see so many people following their passion for the arts together.
This weekend I decided to explore SoHo and Chelsea neighbourhoods. I didn’t plan them all that well but made a general route of places I wanted to stop by. I took the metro down to SoHo and began my journey through the streets. There are so many restaurants with small patios that were perfect for a Saturday morning brunch. I jotted down names of restaurants that looked good as I went so that I may be able to come back one day and enjoy a drink or a meal. I stopped by the MoMA Design Store, a few cafes, the Angelika Film Center, the Film Forum, and IFC Center, made my way over to the ‘F.R.I.E.N.D.S. apartment’ and then up to Chelsea Market for lunch where I had the best tacos of my life. It was a huge wait in line for the tacos, but it was decently priced and very much worth the line.
I was on my own for my little adventure which can be nice as you have a bit more control and can take the opportunity to enjoy the little things you may not notice in larger groups with goals of getting from point A to point B with a general timeline in place.
I took a stroll up to the High Line but only walked a small portion of it. On a Saturday afternoon, the High Line was packed with people and instead of it being a relaxing, leisurely stroll above the city, it was like being ushered in a line. I will have to return earlier in the day or on a weekday next time and preferably with Olivia in tow.
Today is September 1st and if you don’t know, that means that I’m already feeling my annual Halloween fever. Typically September - October is a time of year when I near-exclusively watch horror/halloween films. I will have to do my best to expand beyond that genre this year but I’ve already watched a few over the last couple days. The best one I saw recently was An American Werewolf In London. I had never seen it before but it was an amazing werewolf story and quite brutal at times.
If you have any horror film recommendations for the next two months, let me know!