Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Why I dislike profanity.

Perhaps you recall an earlier post where I referred to topics I might discuss in this blog. (Click here to see that entry.) This post is in response to the next issue I wanted to address: Why foul language bothers me.

"Swearing is the language of the ignorant." That's what I grew up hearing. "People who swear are not smart enough to think of a more appropriate word."

Think about it... when an author wants to indicate an intelligent race, he usually eliminates swearing from the vocabulary.

For years, I associated swearing with lack of intelligence and lack of refinement. I never really thought about the "author" of foul language. Other than the obvious "Lord's name in vain" type references, I never thought about how all swearing is offensive to God until I took a class taught by Randall Wright. He conducted a study on affects of strong language in the media. Research and study revealed that all swear words fit into four different categories.
  1. Describing body parts and/or functions. We are created in God's image. Our bodies are divine temples where our spirits dwell. So who would want to mock bodies? Satan...he who has no body! 
  2. Descriptions or references to intimacy. Intimacy is sacred and beautiful. Through intimate relations, husband and wives can draw close to each other, as well as bring children into the world. So who would want to make fun of such a sacred union? Old Scratch...he who would love to destroy marriage and family relationships.
  3. Describing others. We are all children of God, no matter what color, size, or shape. He loves us all, and wants us to care for each other. So who would want us to mock others? Yep...ole what's-his-no-face, the master of mockery (and misery).
  4. Vain references to Deity. The misuse, overuse, and downright abuse of holy names are utterly offensive to God. So who would want us to profane Deity? The evil one who fights against all things Holy and Good.
There you have it: profanity is authored by the devil. Foul language offends me, and worse, it offends God.

Sometimes when I complain about foul language, I hear the response, "Oh, I don't even notice. I hear far worse at school." (or work, or wherever...) When I mention strong language in films, I usually hear about "realism" and how it was "true to the character." Well, I don't care. A character can display anger through expression and action. I don't need to hear profanity spewing forth to understand his anger, or to understand his upbringing, or to understand his (or her) feelings.

Some accuse me of being naive if I think films don't need profanity. I say, "Look at the classics. They didn't need profanity and they are still held as a standard of great films."

Some tell me profanity is inevitable. I say,"The media helped bring profanity to this level, therefore the media can help bring the level of profanity down!"

Friday, May 27, 2011

I voted with my money -- twice!

In an earlier post (see: My movie viewing preferences.) I mentioned my need to support new release movies at the theater whenever I feel like it is quality and in good taste. Well, I've gone twice in May! Go me! I voted with my money (well...technically Kurt's hard earned money) for Soul Surfer (2011) and for Pirates Of The Caribbean: Stranger Tides (2011).

When Soul Surfer came out, I had no idea what it was about. It wasn't until I started hearing "thumbs up" reports from friends that I decided to see it. I'm not sure how long it had been playing by that time, but it was still at the new-release theater and not the "sticky shoe."

We wanted to see Pirates the first weekend it came out, but decided to avoid the crowds so we waited until Wednesday.

From what I understand, the success of a film is often determined by the numbers attending the weekend it hits the screen. Do I lose points for not attending the films during box office weekend?

Saturday, May 21, 2011

House on fire.

In the movie Leap Year (2010), my favorite scene (warning...spoiler alert...) is when the main character pulls the fire alarm in their new apartment and observes the items her new fiance' frantically gathers. That scene made me wonder, with the house on fire, what would I grab?

I saw the movie earlier this week and continue to think about it, so when I came across a website today titled The Burning House, I was intrigued. People gather the items they treasure, take a picture of it, and list the items. No fluffs. No advertising. Just here it is folks. Here's what I would grab.

The photos, pleasing to the eye, are well composed. I enjoyed looking at them as an art form since they are in essence a portrait of the person posting, but it's also like a glimpse into his or her soul... a nostalgic unnerving.

Besides the safety of my family, what would I want to rescue from our burning home? Three things pop into my mind... my journals, my external hard drives (with my short films and photos), and the photo albums.  

My "grab and go" list makes me want to scan everything and post it on the web where I can retrieve it from anywhere on any computer, so if the house catches fire I can just run screaming into the streets.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Wow, I actually made the cut!

A couple years ago I was an extra in a movie titled My Girlfriend's Boyfriend, and I wondered if I might end up on the cutting room floor. (See the blog post about my experience as an extra.)

Recently, my daughter called me, "Mom, you're famous! I saw you in that movie!" Turned out she watched it on Netflix, not realizing it was the film where I was an extra. Gradually, as she recognized it was filmed locally, she put two and two together, so by the time the wedding scene came along, she was watching for me.

I finally had the opportunity to see the film this weekend (which I thoroughly enjoyed, by the way) and there I was... in the crowd of wedding guests at the end. Wow. How about that.

Where's my trailer? Where's my basket of goodies? Where's my make-up and hair person? Sheesh! Can't a star get decent help around here?

I'd like to thank my family for their support and encouragement, and I'd like to thank my manager (if I had one), and I'd like to thank my friend and former screenwriting classmate, Matt Taylor (check out his awesome Raccoon Toons... be sure to read his blog entry for the comic too).

Anyhoooo, Matt worked as an intern on the film crew, and he's the one that gave me the information on how I could be an extra (ahem..."background talent") for the movie, and spend a majority of the day in a holding pen... in the heat... with no compensation... and no credit. Thanks A LOT Matt!  

No. Seriously. Let's do lunch. I'll have my people call your people.

Friday, May 13, 2011

New Tripod!

After much shopping, comparing, searching... I finally bought a tripod today. I am now the proud owner of a Manfrotto 701HDV, 547BK Video Tripod system with bag! It has features I wanted: capability to go real low to the ground, easy to lock/unlock the legs, smooth motion for panning or tilting, and camera leveler. Plus it has some features I hoped to get but didn't think I could afford... spiked rubber feet (the rubber feet are great on level surfaces, but I can lower the spikes if I am on uneven, or rocky surfaces) and it came with a carrying bag!

When I first started looking for a tripod, I didn't think it would be difficult to find what I wanted, but most of the tripods I found were made for still-photography, not video. Many salespeople looked at me like I was nuts, "You want a camera leveler? Well, this one shows when the legs are level." And I would try to explain... "I don't give a hoot if the legs are level, I want my camera level. If I'm shooting on the side of a hill, I want to quickly level the camera." I pictured some of the shots I took while filming A Shear Gem. For some shots I had one leg of the tripod on a bench and the other two legs on the ground. I don't care what the legs are doing...have I emphasized enough yet?...I just want my camera level!

Granted, my tripod is not heavy duty professional quality, like the one I toted around Italy last summer, but it suits my needs.

Tomorrow I have my first paying video job. I'm filming a short documentary style ad for a small company to place on their website. (Okay, so they are paying me in merchandise, but hey, I'm fine with that!)

Monday, May 9, 2011

Film Degree

I graduated in December 2010, but the University of Utah only holds graduation ceremonies in the spring, so it was on Friday, May 6, 2011, that I finally "walked the stage."

My degree... Bachelor of Arts, Film and Media Arts, Summa Cum Laude.

Because of the recent ceremony, inquiries once again come my way such as "A degree in film? What do you do with that?" It's almost a private joke among film students. Fodder for laughter and frustration. One classmate wrote a clever screenplay based on that question and the pickle the main character finds herself in after giving a flippant response. (I don't want to tell more since it is not my story.)

I wish I had a solid answer to give people. "I'm working for Acme Productions." "I'm a script reader." "I formed my own Independent film company." But I tell the truth, "I write screenplays. I studied film so I could understand the filmmaking process better."

Then comes the next question, "What are your screenplays about?" And I have to answer, "I can't tell you or I would have to kill you." This answer comes because I totally suck at telling about my stories in just a couple sentences. Maybe they only teach that skill in the Master Degree program.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Writing while "under fire."

It's been a month since I posted on here. A rough month with two deaths in the family (an aunt, and one of my brothers), and two trips (one trip for a funeral, and one trip for delivering a car to someone in southern California).

One thing I keep learning over and over since graduating: life is hectic. Whether in school or not, life is hectic. I have a tendency to want the "perfect moment" for writing. You know... solitude, quiet, a house so clean it doesn't cry out to me. Right. Like that will ever happen. Life--and death--happen, and I need to knuckle down and write.

That lesson was just starting to sink into my thick skull when I came across some notes I had scribbled about writing while "under fire" -- or in other words -- while life goes on all around. Choas, interruptions, noise, lack of time. Finding those notes written in 2003, reaffirmed what I was re-learning... I need to write no matter what.

I put a note on my computer, "Write while under fire," and since that time I have been more diligent in working on my screenplays each day. I am about 3/4 of the way through the process of re-typing the pages of one of my screenplays into my screenwriting software. (see post)

Now I am back to writing in my blog.