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Monthly Archives: May 2012

Hooray for quick updates!

I’m so so pleased to announce that TLD is UCLA’s first nominee for the Princess Grace/JUSTFilms Grant. I can’t even describe how amazing it would be to be selected. I’d get to be contemps with Cary Joji Fukunaga, director of Sin Nombre and Jane Eyre, and UCLA’s own Ham Tran, director of Journey from the Fall. But even being nominated puts me in good company with UCLA’s most talented.

In a general sense, it’s a little affirmation after all the work my producer and I put into grants. I am far from being good at this grant-writing process, yet I was beginning to worry that my grant-writing was not getting better (though I did get better at taking rejection.) I’ve probably mentioned (whined about) it before, but grant-writing is totally distracting from the main task of making a movie, while at the same time, totally essential. It’s one of those frustrating paradoxes, like spending money to make money. For now I’m just happy at the faint whiff of finishing funds for TLD. It would kinda rock real hard to be able to finish the movie with some resources available.

In other news, I’m also excited to introduce the filmmaker who is helping TLD come together as a movie. Esther Julie-Anne and I know each other through UCLA where she is a year ahead of me in the program. She is a mucho talented editor and a great storyteller in general. She also has a cat who can sense my fear, but he is too much of a gentleman to rub his allergens on me.

gentleman cat

Esther and I have been working to do some heavy lifting with TLD. As the end of my time at UCLA approaches, we hope to have a really solid rough cut that will determine the “skeleton” of my movie as we like to call it. What exactly is the rough cut? Broadly speaking, it is the first cut of your whole movie. It is often way too long, and in narrative, it’s when you cut to the script. Imagine it as the sculpture with distinct lines and broad strokes but not a whole lot of details. You can just make out the shape – ok, it’s human – but maybe the eyes don’t have pupils yet.

From what I’ve seen already, it’s a bit exhilarating. It’s my movie as filtered through the eyes of someone who has not lived with this material as long – fresh and only the essentials. It’s fun because we understand each other as often as we question each other. I tell and retell the different threads and themes of the story to my editor, because many of the details are stored in my head, inaccessible by the external hard drives we share.

In a way it’s like grant-writing. Yet it’s completely different because the objective is not to sell, but to sync up. Sometimes I like to think that Esther is my fingers – if my fingers had a mind of their own and were wiser and saw the world in a Franco-American way. 😀 Wish us good luck on this next part of the journey.

So all who hide too well away
Must speak and tell us where they are.
– R. Frost

Working on TLD I have gotten a chance to hear a lot of heart-wrenching stories, news articles, and statistics. So when I heard this line from the poem, “Revelation”, it stopped me in my tracks. It immediately gave form to half-finished thoughts I had on my own experiences during my darkest times in college.

Probably one of the things I regret the most was how much I expected people to reach out to me and/or read my mind. “Didn’t they get it?” I would ask myself. “I sent very clear signals that I am NOT doing well. What do I have to do to get people to be concerned about me the way that I think they should be?”

Yet even when someone did ask, I evaded or brushed it off or minimized. At some point I was thoroughly confusing myself:

“Wait, don’t you want someone to ask if everything is alright?”

“Well, yes, but I don’t like looking weak.”

“What?”

“Yeah, it’s a thing. Look, I’m fine now.”

“…ok.”

“Ahhhhhhhhh, why won’t someone understand me???”

It’s kinda humorous now. At the same time, I sometimes futilely wish that someone had (compassionately) explained to me something along the lines of that poem.

“You know, nobody’s a mind reader. You can mope and exude auras and send up silly white flags a la angsty blog posts, but until you say the words, nothing will change.”

“Nothing?”

“Not too much, no.”

“Oh…well, then…I’m scared and I feel so alone. I kinda hate myself and sometimes it feels like it’d be better if I could just cut off all emotions…”

But it’s much harder to get to that place. You begin to get so good at sending mixed signals to a busy, careless world that you trick yourself into believing that hiding deeper is the right thing to do. Besides, who are you burdening when you do that? What do you put at risk when you hide?

“Possibly everything.”

“…I think I need help.”

Speak and tell us where you are.