Shoot or Die

I have been a dreamer most of my life. The adventures I’ve dreamed, the drama, the battles fought between good and evil, fueled by books, comic books and movies, all at the expense of my homework. Remember Star Wars, I was eleven in 1977, life was simpler then. My sisters and I went to see “Star Wars” at the Lowe’s Astor Plaza in Manhattan. It must have been open 6 months already and still the theater was packed. Do you remember the promo, – “May the force be with you” button, but they were out. I’ll give it to my sister Alisa, she wrote to George Lucas, and he sent her 4 buttons, I wonder sometimes where they have all gone to now.
I remember watching Star Wars, and just being crazy for it, 10 times I watched in the movie theaters, And when it was re released about a decade ago, I brought my oldest Nephew. I figured it out though. Vader being Luke’s father, well that was an easy one, and no one was surprised. Luke and Leia brother and sister, that too. Although when she kissed him, well that was probably a bit disturbing – no wait, Sisters don’t kiss their brothers like that, no, no, no.
Was it obvious to everyone or only me, that Obi Wan and Vader fought near a volcano, and Vader got burned? Granted who knew it would take an operatic 3 hour long fight (normal people of course would have died of exhaustion after an hour or so, or succommed to toxic fumes, but still Vader gets burned by volcanic activity.
College was fun once I found the film department at Brooklyn College. Oh the fun you could have making movies, this is when you shot film and it made a difference. Video, that’s easy. Leads to sloppy, laziness. Too much is too easy, and you don’t think, dream and imagine. Oh, I’ll just do a dissolve. Can’t really do that in film. You can of course, but back in the day fades and dissolves could only be done in multiples of 8 frames. you really had to think about it. Now, throw it on the timeline, oh it doesn’t quite cut, you know what, do a one or two frame dissolve instead of a cut. Makes the non-working cuts less jarring.


Instead of doing that, why don’t you just make better edits, and you don’t have to compromise. Spend the extra time, put in the effort.

But you can only fight so long, I haven’t shot film in over five years, but it was beautiful, the last film I shot on film. Super 16 on Kodak double X neg, my personal favorite – I know others prefer different black and white stocks, but I just loved Double XX – Nice little film by Lisa Tuvalo called The Triangle Fire.

So here I am, directing a short film in a few hours, and all I find is that I gravitate more and more to writing and directing. I love shooting, but more and it became just so unsatisfying, not enough crew, not enough gear, and people just don’t care about what it takes to get the images that move the story, and support the characters and mood. Oh, they want to shoot Sky Captain, or Eye candy videos, but gee why can’t it be done with a consumer camcorder – “Lucas shot the new Star Wars on an HD Consumer camcorder”, yeah I heard that a bunch of times – but besides the fact that it isn’t true (the cameras were $100,000 each) ,- there was also lots of crew and money behind the effects.

I went a few years without dreaming, it was a bad time. A time of spirit crushing work and disappointment. A year and a half videotaping Holocaust survivors for the Survivors of the Shoah project. A bad break up, and then I got a job teaching. Now teaching is rewarding, but then again, there is the lure of video, and although my students were talented, so hard for them to resist, and learn technique. Dreams, dashed and broken and lost.

SO it is years later, married, now separated, with two beautiful children – Sadie and Abigail. The production world is in what I think of as a race to the bottom, No dreams left in that. So I’ll still shoot for the right people, but now, I have this thing called a full time job (It is necessary when you have kids – they need stability) so it’s hard to organize times for a shoot. Perhaps an exercise video coming up, maybe an interview with Carole Kane (who is tremendous, and in one of my favorite films – briefly as a prostitute I believe – The Last Detail.

So writing and directing, my way to go now.

And maybe finally, I can dream again.


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