Sunday, August 01, 2010

TC Film Festival

Here is the outdoor "theater" in the Traverse City open space, right next to the water. It's THEE best single place to watch a movie, and I spent three nights there last week, watching great films like Twister, Help, and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. We do a little bit of tailgating before the film and the following is Sharon's genius idea on how to keep popcorn fresh and tasty!

As you can see I couldn't stop laughing. Anyway, I also saw plenty of indoor films as well, and still have two more to go to tonight yet.

My favorite one so far is a very low budget film made by some film students in Austin Texas called, "The Happy Poet". Ask me sometime what the poem in the film is about. It's called Chasm, and is one of the funniest moments in a very very funny film. When the library gets it in be sure to go check it out! I'm praying nightly that it finds a distributor, because it's truly great. It's about a guy who has a lot of bills who thinks it might be a good idea to open a hotdog stand that only sells health food. He sells vegetarian food and at first people don't get it but then it starts to catch on. He runs into problems because he doesn't really know anything about business and eventually he finds he has to "sell out" and start serving hotdogs because they are cheap and he can't afford anything else. It ends well though. I love a happy ending where the main character is an English major! It gives me hope!

I also attended a film school session on Screenwriting, and got some helpful pointers about how to re-write my screenplay. Do you know that every time another person becomes interested in your screenplay you get more money? They hire you to do a re-write of your original, tweaking it here and there. Sometimes they even ask you to do something to it that you approve of! But each time it goes to a new producer, director, studio, gets sold, or traded or researched, you get to talk with someone new and re-write the whole thing, for more money. Of course the object that all screenwriters go for is to get their plays produced, but a writer can make a living just re-writing their old scripts endlessly. I was so excited just listening to this man speak, that I wanted to go home right away and start re-writing my screenplay. His name is Jim Bernstein, and he wrote the script for "Renaissance Man" staring Danny DeVito.

He told some great stories about his experiences on the set with Penny Marshall. He also gave a lot of great advice on Story, Character, Theme, Dialog and action. He showed film clips that demonstrated examples of all these things, incorporating how you need to end the first act to drive into the second and how to end the second act with the character not really knowing what he is going to do, and how he has to figure it out on the screen in front of the audience.

The example he showed for this was the scene in Rocky where he goes to the arena the night before the fight and the promoter tells him that he's going to give everyone a heck of a show. He is devastated and goes back to Adrienne and tells her that he can't win. He doesn't know what to do, so we watch him figure it out, and he says the great line about how if he gets to that final bell and he's still standing he'll know for the first time in his life that he's not just another bum from the neighborhood.

Jim said that if we can learn how to do that, we will be successful screenwriters.

I'm really glad I went to that class on the first day, because I still had the entire week to keep asking the major questions he taught us about. The question, "What does this character want?" Because every script in the universe can be boiled down to this sequence. Someone wants something really bad, and he is having trouble getting it, and in the end he either does get it, or he doesn't. That's it! So I went to all the films thinking, "OK, what does this guy want?"

The Happy Poet--The main character wanted to make money by selling health food from a hotdog cart.

Solitary Man--The Micheal Douglas Character wanted to deny the fact that he was dying any way he could, and ended up destroying his whole life.

A Brand New Life--The Little girl wanted to be loved by her parents and to stop losing the people that she loved.

The infidel--Man finds out he is adopted, and his birth father is a different religion than he was brought up. He wants to know who he is, and to see his birth father.

Me and Orson Welles--Young man (Zak Ephrem) wants to live the life of an actor in the Mercury Theater under the tutelage of the great Welles.

The Concert--Former Director of the Bolshoi orchestra wants to heal himself of a past failure by stealing an opportunity to perform again in Paris.

I'll tell you about the other films I saw some other time. Like I said, I still have two more to see and I also saw two documentaries. Not very dangerous ones though. One, called "His and Hers", was about women in Ireland and their thoughts about the most important men in their lives, their fathers, their husbands, and their sons. This is a doc that is going to stick with me for many years.

The other one I saw was called "Reel Injun" and it depicted the roll of Native Americans in film. How white people in red face portrayed Indians in the early days of film and how Dances with Wolves changed all that. I'm not doing the topic justice here because there were so many good points made about how now Indians are beginning to make films from the inside. Whereas Dances with Wolves, and the Last of the Mohicans were told from the white POV, now more and more Indian film makers are starting to make movies from their own insider POV. They profiled one film which I am going to look up while I'm here at the library. And I will report on that later.

So for now, it's still me Haunting Dubiously in the Film Festival!
Cindy K-K

1 comment:

  1. Great blog entry. I should try to keep up with you some Film Festival! My wintertime goal is to rent all the movies that I didn't see during that one week.