Dispatches from Suburbia

If I played an instrument, I would have a band called "The Simon Thomsen Sex Tape"; and other musings, rants, and disconnected ramblings.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Non-California Dreaming

"It's a scientific fact. For every year a person lives in Hollywood, they lose two points of their IQ."
-Truman Capote

Last weekend I attended the NM Filmmaker's Conference in Santa Fe, a huge (and gloriously free to attend) event intended to foster and instruct the local filmmaking community.

The event began with a presentation by a high-profile Hollywood lawyer. A very blunt presenter, his main goal seemed to be to dismiss Hollywood mythology. Overnight success is damned-near impossible, and the road to success is not just brilliance within your film, but within your marketing. "Once your film is in the can, you're only 9-10% finished." He went on to explain that he is "an acquired taste." Maybe, but his advice was incredibly valuable. He emphasized a "non-linear" approach. Because of this, our writing troupe--"The Sexy Chemists"--will be dispersing business cards in beakers. That's "non-linear," right?

There were several speakers, all very good (especially the Scottish guy from the union--he was a hoot), but the one that stuck out the most was film director Gregory Nava, who gave two presentations--one on screenwriting and one on directing, both of which earning standing ovations. "I discovered Jennifer Lopez," he proudly proclaims. Sure, he sounds egotistical, but he's not lying. He gave J-Lo her first film role in Mi Familia, as well as her star-making role in Selena, so the ego is actually allowed here.

Anyway, he advised that, in writing a script, one should think of a beginning first, and make every scene build to that ending, to an effective catharsis. He gave a wonderful depiction of story structure and how it plays off on screen, and I went away with a new understanding of scriptwriting. He was awe-inspiring.

I haven't really considered directing, but that didn't stop his directing presentation from totally commanding my attention. He dissected a perfectly executed scene from Mi Familia, and again I am left with a new understanding.

So, this coupled with my Friday night excursion (see my post "Am I just being judgemental..." for more details) for quite the weekend. I have loads of faith in NM as a filmmaker's burgeoning Mecca. As the lawyer pointed out, "The Hollywood infrastructure is weak." It's our job as New Mexicans to recognize this and build a far more efficient and professional filmmaking community, something for those cartoonish Hollywood types to envy. Sounds pretty sweet to me, and I have all the faith in the world that this is certainly going to happen. Just wait, you'll see.

By the way, parts of Nava's upcoming film Bordertown (starring Jennifer Lopez, Antonio Banderas, and Martin Sheen) was filmed in New Mexico...and I was an extra! I think I'm even in the final shot. Oh, and I saw Jennifer Lopez. She's much shorter in person.


At 2:47 AM, Blogger JR's Thumbprints said...

Now that prosumer camcorders and computers are available at an affordable price, everyone has a chance at producing and editing their very own short film. I'm tired of Hollywood. Give me something fresh, something like "Mail Order Bride," which I thought was totally brilliant.

At 5:19 AM, Blogger ShadowFalcon said...

You were in a movie, thats cool

Directing is so close to writing in some ways, keep in mind a good director can make bad writting fantastic and a bad director can make good writing suck.

At 6:01 AM, Blogger Michelle's Spell said...

That's totally cool! I'm dying for something new as well as Jim is. As for discovering J.Lo, it ain't bragging, I suppose, if you did it!

At 3:20 PM, Blogger thethinker said...

Congratulations on being an extra! I guess we'll have to keep our eyes out for you. I've always wanted to be in a movie.


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