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Apr 28

last night i had the incredible honor of being invited to come and guest teach a class at USC’s School for the Cinematic Arts. my good friend and colleague Jim O’Keeffe teaches one of the first-year undergrad production sections, and wanted me to share with his class about some of the emerging technology stuff i’ve been prattling on about. i found some public parking near campus and dodged all the cyclists on my way to the new $178m facilities. the new George Lucas building is gorgeous, like something out of an Indiana Jones movie.

i followed Jim into the classroom-sized screening room and suddenly floods of memories came back from my NCSA days… Renata’s gifted teaching, Ray’s smile, fellow students’ comments and critiques watching each other’s dailies… and my favorite of Janos’s jokes, spoken in his thick Hungarian accent: “my name is Janos Kovacsi. i am from Budapest, Hungary. i learned to speak English from Mr. Carlos in El Paso, Texas. my advice? don’t hire him.”

before i spoke, i got to sit on the front row and watch three rough cuts of class projects, their final one for the year. memories of Phone Schmucks abound, mainly the look on Mark Messick’s face when we swung the boom mic around to grab a wild line from him… “i SWEAR if i ever get my hands on you…” (that was the line, not what he said to me after class…)

the rough cuts were all great. they were all shot at the same hotel location, and it was interesting to see how each group used the space differently. each film had a completely different style to it, even though there were some similarities in the stories. very creative group of students. my favorite part was listening to them be genuinely critical of each others work, and i don’t use the word critical as a pejorative. they were insightful, offered suggestions toward possible solutions based on other footage they had seen, and just generally seemed to support each other in their craft. reminded me very much of Leslie Hill’s class my first year.

“…aaaaand BUMP.”

“smooth move… ACE.”

after a break, Jim introduced me. i used their built-in computer system to show them my blog and other utilities like Dropbox, LogMeIn, etc. only 17 in the class (not counting Jim and Beth, his teaching partner, and Lindsay, the TA), so the group was small enough that i could demo some of the apps for them up close.

i have to say i was surprised that more of them were not familiar with things like Google Wave or Dropbox, but i was certainly glad to be able to introduce them. they really enjoyed checking out Jonathan Houser’s Cinemek Storyboard Composer, and who wouldn’t — the thing is flippin brilliant.

after showing them some apps and talking about the possibilities of today’s technologies, they asked some great questions, then we talked in the courtyard until i had to go get my car out of the parking garage.

i really loved moments like hearing Michael talking after class about the possibilities of the future, with municipal wifi, remote access, faster processors, etc. seeing the wheels turn, i felt that i had done what I came to do. i’m looking forward to seeing them again at Jim’s house tomorrow night to watch their final projects.

i’m really glad that i had the longer time to speak last night… it helped me realize what i need to develop and what i need to leave out for Saturday. still a ton of work to do before then.

Sunday, i’m joining my fellow NCSA alum to share with this year’s graduating class. hopefully, i’ll be able to give them some insights into making films outside of the Hollywood arena, and how to get by in the process.

well, i “slept in” until 5:45a this morning, so it’s time to get some coffee and eggs in me. i already hit up In-N-Out, so today is Roscoe’s/Amoeba day with Mark Messick and my friend Robin. maybe we can get Phares out to Roscoe’s as well unless his new wife has him taking out the garbage or something…

more soon…


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