Sunday, September 10, 2006

In the "Wish I Were There...." category

Steve Ginsburg, our new Pendleton Professional-in-Residence in the LA program, emailed this morning, just to keep me up to date on what's new and exciting out there on the West coast. Thought you might find it interesting....I did!

Hi Dianne: Just wanted to check in and let you know what’s been going on:

l – L.A. Shorts Fest opening – I arranged for and took a group of students to the opening night of the LA Shorts Fest Tuesday night at the Arclight Theatre in Hollywood. It’s a 10-day event and literally the LARGEST shorts festival worldwide (this is its 10th year), showing hundreds of shorts from new and veteran filmmakers. I think it’s a great potential venue for students to get new work seen by people out here and a nice potential credit to put on their resumes. It also provides networking possibilities and a chance to interact with all types of filmmakers. In fact, at the opening session we attended, there were a number of filmmakers outside the U.S. who were to have films unspooling on other nights.

The event we attended included a diverse panel of directors talking about their filmmaking experience and breaking into the biz. The included: Paul Haggis, who wrote and directed “Crash” and was the screenwriter of “Million Dollar Baby”; Jason Reitman, who directed one of this year’s hit indie comedy-dramas, “Thank You for Smoking; as well as others like Grace Lee, a Korean American UCLA grad who showed her 30 minute thesis short film that starred Sandra Oh (“Grey’s Anatomy”); and Joe Nussbaum, a USC grad who’s short “George Lucas In Love,” is often shown to production classes all across the
country and has gotten him work directing several feature films since. Adrien Grenier, who is the star of HBO’s “Entourage, “ who had just directed his first short (a little star power never hurts) was also on the panel and showed his film. And he actually did have an entourage of his own (!).

All talked honestly about how the films came about, breaking into the biz, the myriad of jobs they had in addition to filmmaking, and the roundabout ways their films, financing and careers came together. Grace Lee, in particular, had no connections at all and was able to get Sandra Oh to do her movie through a mutual friend who gave her Sandra’s phone # and said she could send her the script. The actress signed on because she liked the project (there was NO money involved), and I liked the fact that the students saw that indeed, if you really devote yourself to your craft and keep plugging, there are ways to actually get to people you might not think you can get to. By the same token, there were some cautionary tales but also very specific ways to subvert the system and get your work out there from people who had done it.

The fest gave a “pioneer” award to Paul Haggis because of his success in the indie world and he gave a great talk – remembering his really awful jobs and early experiences writing for sitcoms like “Different Strokes” and “The Facts of Life.” Really modest, self-effacing and eager to take questions and help. Some students got to talk to him individually at the party afterwards.

...A few of our students volunteered to work at the fest and one student, Angel Yau, was given a camera to film the entire opening night event.

On other subjects:

...One of our students working at the Hollywood Reporter just got his first article published; another at NBC News actually was sent to cover to a NASCAR event (they needed someone who knew NASCAR for an afternoon news show and she was a big fan) and her live interviews became an integral part of the piece. They loved her work and had never given an intern that much of an opportunity. So kudos to Stephanie Stevens....

...We’re putting together a panel of recent and veteran IC grads that will come to speak to the students in early November about breaking into the industry. Should be helpful since we have a lot of LA program grads out there doing many different things. It’s been 10 years since the school’s been operating out here!



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