Thursday, January 7, 2010

LOVE MOVIE: The Fiasco.

About a month ago, Jessica and I were judges in an English competition on campus. The student organization hosting the contest approached Jess about a possible movie night and discussion. Jessica generously referred them to me, as I have a film background. "Sure," I said. "That sounds like fun. Just tell me what you want me to do."

"Anything!" they said excitedly. "We were thinking you could show clips of different movies."

"Okay," I said. "Do you want me to talk about film history...or film analysis...or...?"

"Anything!" they said (again).

Total freedom, I thought. So I went about gathering clips for the presentation, which I conceived of by mentally walking through the Museum of the Moving Image. I ended up with a short silent film, a clip from "Singin' in the Rain" to talk about the transition to talking pictures, a video about foley artists, a clip from "Goodfellas" to talk about cinematography, a not-too-overly-quirky Miranda July film to talk about shorts & independents, and a clip from "Mean Girls" because it's awesome.

Then I get a text message from the organizer: "Can you make the presentation about how to learn English from movies?"

Uh, I guess so? It's pretty self-explanatory, I think: Watch English movies with subtitles. Try them without subtitles. Read about the movie beforehand to get a sense of what it's about. But I wrote back, "Sure!"

Another text message: "Can you send me a photo of yourself for the propaganda?" (Their neutral word for posters and advertisements). I looked through photos of myself and I realized I don't have any professional-looking ones, but I did the best I could do.

The lecture was supposed to start at 7:00, so I got there at 6:30 because I know technology has a way of working against me. Everything looked okay, until I started the presentation, and suddenly the sound didn't work. Since the whole shindig revolved around showing movie clips, this was going to be a problem. The organizers just stood there helplessly, while Jessica seemed to be the only person trying to find a solution. I riffed for a while (not my strong suit) and then went over and asked, "Um, should we move this to another night?" The organizer looked at me and said, "Maybe you can just talk about Christmas? They're all really interested in Christmas!" Jessica's eyes were shooting daggers at this girl, which I appreciated.

After some more yammering on my part, the team's solution was to put microphones up to the laptop that was connected to the screen, so that the audience could (kind of) hear what was happening. Since I am a film school snob, this was tearing at the essence of my soul. Post-college, I've become the kind of person who needs a film viewing experience to be as close to perfect as possible (lights out, high volume, correct aspect ratio) and this was just torture. Finally we ended it and the poor students were allowed to leave. I got a weird little notebook as a gift (the cover says: "Life is a sweet thing for one who has a pure conscience") and some weak apologies from the organizers. It was a shame, because it was going to be a fun and interesting presentation, at least from my perspective.

On the plus side, Lucy and Jessica and I found some remaining propaganda on a bulletin board outside. So we stole it. It's now decorating our apartment. And that's the end of LOVE MOVIE: The Fiasco.


  1. Oh no! That sounds like a Nightmare! Although I think haveing an offical looking poster with your name on it is totally worth it... Ms. Maggie the Christmas Jew.