Tuesday, May 03, 2005


Getting Started: Part One

Bluebeard Behind-the-Scenes (Brothers)

Transcribed from a lecture given by AVS Head of Development S.W. Owen at the Spring Orientation Gala for Automatic Vaudeville Film School, May 2. 2005, Automatic Vaudeville Studios, Montreal.

Hello, hi there, good evening. (applause) My name is Seth W. Owen, (applause) and I’m head of development here at Automatic Vaudeville Studios. (applause) Okay, that’s---Shut up. (pause) Don’t look at me. (pause) Look at me. (awkward silence) Hmmm. That’s actually a different lecture altogether. [note: said lecture is titled “On-Camera/Off-camera: The Politics of Self-Representation in Auteur Cinema” and will be featured in a future installment of Automatic Vaudeville Film School] What I want to talk about tonight is getting started. It just seemed, well, a good place for us to get started. (Pours glass of water from a tall pitcher.)

Okay. So. If you’re a young person thinking about getting started in motion pictures, you’re gonna be coming from one of two places. Which of these places it is that you’re coming from will go a long way in determining what sort of filmmaker you might end up one day, if you pay attention in class and can take good notes. So. Two points-of-entry. Two positions. The first position is “There is a film I want to make,” and the second is “I want to make a film.” I’m sorry, there’s something wrong with this water. This water tastes funny. Could I get a new… thank you. (A young, attractive intern has removed the pitcher of water.) What was I talking about? (looks at notes) That’s right. Do you want to make a movie, or is there a movie you want to make? Think about it. I don’t know if it’s ever going to be all one or the other, life is complicated… but I think it’s worth thinking about.

Before I say any more, I should probably tell you a bit about myself.

I’ve always been creative, even back when that meant something. Very impressively creative. Impressively endowed, creatively speaking. (there is a laugh from a female student at the back of the crowd.) What’s so funny!? Who—Oh… you go to school here? I didn’t realize you were a student here. Well, that’s a little… You look good. Wow, really good. Stay after… I want to discuss your (winks) syllabus with you after class, if you’ve got a moment. Where was I?

Creativity. Back when I was kid, in the 1970s… yeah, no shit, I’m in my 30s. Early 30s. I look young, I know. Eat right. Drink water. Anyway, when I was a kid, everyone wasn’t exploring their creativity all the time, like today. Creativity as in the “creative arts,” that is, because of course there is creativity in all callings, from the haberdasher to the butcherman to the tow truck driver. No, I mean creativity in the “I demand more finger-painting time in my schedule” sense. My creativity was matched only by my devotional interest in movie trivia, and I prided myself as being the class “movie guy.” Okay, alright, I was a not an altogether likable child, granted, granted. Later, in say… What? Grade Six? Junior high school? Later my “creativity” and my love of the movies intersected and made me naturally inclined towards being a filmmaker. The rest, as they say, is history. But during my long, oft erotic slog from aspiring junior high auteur to Head of Development at Montreal’s history-making Automatic Vaudeville Studios, a lot has changed.

Nowadays, every classroom is filled with “movie guys” and “movie gals.” There are film festivals for high school filmmakers. There are video cameras in phones. You can make a movie with your phone! That is so fucked up. Everybody reads the weekend box-office report… speaking of which, how pleased is Vin Diesel with himself right now? Anyhoo. What was I saying? Everybody is a filmmaker. Everybody is a studio executive. The medium and its means of production are emancipated! Democratized! Hurray and hurrah! Meanwhile, there are no nurses or schoolteachers or construction workers. Great. Well done, culture. At least we have more film festivals.

Entertainment—once a “break time” activity—is now the only show in town. And there you are, poised on the brink of your bold new artistic venture, inhaling the invigorating possibility of making your Citizen Kane at age 13. And of course, yes, this here film school has been established to help you realize your goals. But let me give you one important bit of advice: DO NOT BE A FILMMAKER. (gasp from crowd) Okay, alright. Hunker down. This is not advice I give lightly. It does not emerge bitterly from my own many years of frustration and failure in the pursuit of cinematic glory – yes, it’s true, even an icon like myself has his bad days… (a titter from the same student as before.) I say this to you only because THERE ARE TOO MANY FILMMAKERS. I mean, Jesus, it’s certainly not like there are TOO MANY good movies. You feeling me?

Of course, some of you will choose not to heed this sublimely wise advice. You will forge on in your path, and it is more than a little likely that you will meet more success than myself, and that I may, at some point, ask to borrow some money from you. Actually… I accidentally left my wallet back at home this morning, and I was hoping… you, with the glasses, could you… like, a fiver? (Is handed five-dollar bill from student wearing glasses.) Thanks. Don’t do drugs. Maybe I’ll pass a hat around after this thing and you can all… Awesome.

Okay, so we’ve arrived at the beginning, and we are asking ourselves: do I have a movie I want to make or do I want to make a movie? Mull it over. Is it a trick question? Maybe, maybe. In the meantime, I’d like to stress another important aspect of getting started in the pictures: the business aspect. You are indeed entering a business. This cannot be denied. Luckily for you, it is show business, and it is like no business I know. Some of you might not want to be in show business. You might want to make art. And you’ll cry about it later, when you realize you’re in a business all the same. Yeah, you know what, I don’t even want to deal with you people. Everybody who doesn’t want to be in show business, get the hell out of here. (several students begin their exit.) Wait... Except for you. You’ve got spunk. And there’s a considerable amount of junk in your trunk. So… Stay, learn: your artistic ambition and show business can make like an arranged marriage. You can learn to love me—It. Learn to love it. Whoops. Is it hot in here? Hey, you, the fat one, crack that window, would you--- Phew. Where’s that water? It’s so—Where was I? We were just getting started… Talking about getting started… Show business… There’s no business like…
(Lecturer passes out.)

NEXT CLASS: Getting Started Part II: Don’t Go to Film School!


curtis ebbtit said...

can you skip to how you make animals talk like in the eddie murphy movie

7:53 PM  

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