Thursday, September 07, 2006

AFI Year 2: The Final Frontier

So we've started our second year at AFI. Yesterday we had the directors of "Little Miss Sunshine" (Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris) come in to talk about making the film along with cinematographer Tim Suhrstedt (an AFI alumn himself). That was followed by a screening of the terribly bad film "The Wicker Man" along with a Q&A with writer/director Neil LaBute, better known for his plays and films like "Nurse Betty" and "The Shape of Things".

It's interesting because Little Miss Sunshine is probably the best movie I've seen this year, and The Wicker Man is the absolute worst. And you can learn from both just as much. It was great listening to Jonathan Dayton say that although he made a lot of music videos before this film, his first feature film break (Little Miss Sunshine) didn't come until he was 48 years old. It's a matter of perseverence. They talked about the writing process and tweaking scenes to sustain a certain tone. It's very cool listening to directors talk about writing because I write almost everday and I think of myself as a writer/director, not just a director. So much of screenwriting is in structure and tone. I'll write a separate blog about that one.

Then Neil LaBute talked about his writing process, which is basically sitting in front of the computer and not knowing where he's going to get... and just writing. Personally, I like to know where I'm going. I like to cook the idea without committig to one specific approach, but definitely letting the idea cook in my head on an unconscious level for a while. Then sitting down and writing a general treatment by hand. And then expanding it as I transcribe it onto my computer. And I like to do that in coffee shops early in the morning, feeding off the aroma of coffee and people walking in and out of the place. There's a certain focus I enjoy when sitting in a coffee shop. It's funny because I can be completely unaware of my surroundings, yet really need the noise and traffic to keep me focused.

Anyway, so this is going to be an exciting year. We have calsses on improvisation, advanced directing actors and camera, scene workshop on-camera, feature film screenplay development, international film studies, and thesis development along with our thesis productions of course. I shoot my thesis in January. We have to raise $54,000 for that film and AFI gives us $11,000 (from our tuition, which is $38,000). So anyway, it should be a fun crazy year. Are you excited? I am.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Beh-Beh!!!

I made a trip out west this summer, but obviously missed you! It's so exciting to read your blog and follow your path as your dreams continue to unfold! You may have "bled blue" at one time, but it was just another illustration of your incredible passion for life! A passion that will continue to take you on so many incredible journeys!!!

Tay says HI. We were looking at pics from our universal trip and she was asking about you!

Miss you lots but love that I can stay caught up with you indirectly!

Still bleeding blue in ATL (though it's a lighter shade)!


1:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How can we help in the fund raising?

10:31 AM  
Blogger Amin Matalqa said...

Thanks Behbeh! Great to hear from you. Hope all is well in the SouthEast! Say hi to Ben Treadway and the gang.

As for the fund raising, thanks for asking. I will put up a post sometime soon once we get our "Morning Latte" web site up. We'll ask for donations and for those who contribute amounts greater than $1000 or $3000, we'll give them an associate producer credit on the film. For now, I'm working on cleaning upt he script. More info soon.

6:52 PM  

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