In 1998 I wrote, directed and edited a fifteen minute narrative film titled "Old Friends".
I made this film while I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. I was pretty sure that I was not interested in writing software in the way I had been in the several years since graduation. My tenth grade English teacher, Freida Smith, included a film unit in her class. Part of the lesson plan was to make a movie. I really enjoyed that process (although I broke my hand during a disagreement -- stupid adolescent stuff -- different story) and had wanted to make another one for years.
One day I saw an ad in the paper for film classes at The City of Oaks School of the Arts (COSA). COSA was a one-room unaccrediated independent school run by Ellen Shepard (I don't know if it still exists). For about two years, I took classes covering script writing, editing, and directing actors among other topics. Most (possibly all) of the classes I took were taught by one of the finest teachers I have ever had: Lon Bumgarner of Anteres Entertainment. My stint of classes ended with a six month class with ten other students. Each student was to created a fifteen minute maximum short film. Each student wrote his own script and we all crewed on each other's films. We put a casting call in the paper and held open auditions for the parts in ten shorts.
Filmmaking is one of the most enjoyable activities I have ever done. For months, I would leave work after toiling for eight hours and go work on films for another eight hours. Even though it was hard work, and I was physically exhausted every night, my brain felt more recharged and relaxed than it had in years. However, filmmaking came in a close second to researching artificial intelligence and I am now pursuing a PhD in computer science instead of scraping together funding for my next feature.
There were a couple of very distinct points that put filmmaking in second place. First: Lon described Hollywood as "high school with money." I really didn't care much for high school as a whole and would like to avoid any environments that resemble it socially in any way. Second: While in San Francisco on a business trip I happened to meet a 2nd Assistant Director in a bar. He told me about working his way up through the union ranks over ten years. He also told me that the film industry is responsible for more broken relationships than anything else (whatever that means). I mean, you go on a shoot for three of four months during which you do not get to see your family. When the production is over, you get to go home for a month, but you have to go out again soon to keep the money rolling in. That does not sound like the life I want to live. Third: I am told that every year there are more film school graduates than the entire industry needs. Let me say that again: EVERY YEAR film schools put out more graduates than the ENTIRE INDUSTRY needs. And to think I worry about job competition in India. Really the only way I would be interested in breaking into the industry would be to make a film that catapults me right to the top. And at that point I probably wouldn't even enjoy being there so why bother. I am perfectly happy keeping filmmaking as a hobby (although I haven't really practiced that hobby since I started graduate school).
In 2004, the CS department held a film festival. "Old Friends" was too long to be an official entry, but the department was gracious enough to show it anyway. I think it was very well received. I recently discovered that all of the entries are available on the UTCS website. So now that you have read this, you can watch my movie in either mpeg or quicktime (I recommend the mpeg). I also have many, many copies on VHS. If anyone wants a VHS copy, just let me know and I'll see what I can do to get one to you.
If you watch it, I would appreciate any comments.
You can also watch all of the UTCS film festival entries. Note that these are not the COSA films. Alas, I do not have copies of the other movies.
I would also like to encourage anyone to put my movie on P2P networks or share it however you wish. Just don't change it in any way.
And finally, this entry wouldn't be complete without a complete listing of the credits:
If you are in this list and would like a link to your site, just email me (or leave a comment).
|Sam Truss||Jonathan Schancupp|
|Henry Truss||Al Harrington|
|Phil Leeman||Jim Babel|
|Tom Roberts||Jonathon Demers|
|Board Member #1||David Bennett|
|Board Member #2||Patrick Miller|
|Board Member #3||Marshall Brain|
|Paramedic #1||Amy Edwards|
|Paramedic #2||Tem Lesslie Griffin|
|Bill||Timothy J. McCormack|
|Gossiping Employee #1||Kelli Partin|
|Gossiping Employee #1||Will Atwater|
|Compaining Employee #1||Lon Bumgarner|
|Compaining Employee #2||Kelli Partin|
|Assistant Director||Suzanne Bailey|
|Director of Photography||Kevin Waite|
|2nd Director of Photography||John Upchurch|
|Script Supervisor||Joan Stet|
|Script written by||Alan Oursland|