A still from our short film. I play a writer struggling to find inspiration and to carve out a spot for herself in the literary pantheon.

So the final project in my Nouvelle Vague class was, naturally, to write, direct, star in, and shoot a short film. In about 3 weeks. Well. We were given 3 weeks. One of those weeks was Thanksgiving break (or, well, most of it was) and, naturally, none of the members of my group stuck around in Cambridge over break (NYC, baby!), so it was more like 2 weeks. The third week being break. So, of course, none of us thought to do anything until it was two days before we left for break and we still hadn’t shot a line.

I say none of us. I mean the other two. I was certainly thinking about it and doing a fair bit of freaking out and wondering why the other two didn’t seem at all concerned with the amount of time we had left. All of my prompting (“hey do you guys think we should start filming soon? tomorrow? when can you guys meet?”) was met with total apathy. This makes me sound pushy and like that annoying overachiever you sometimes get stuck with and is hell to please, but, while I may be a perfectionist, I’m certainly also a procrastinator. So the fact that I was getting nervous is a bad sign. My group members, an apathetic senior and a forgetful, party animal sophomore, were convinced that this film didn’t matter at all and was an easy A. But in a film class, I wasn’t so sure. And I just wanted to make it good.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

One of the posters I designed as part of the promotional package for our film.

We finally managed to meet to shoot just before break and got through most of two of our three scenes. The rest was left up to me to do on my own time over break (ha!). I managed to convince them to let me do several takes of almost every line, though they seemed largely nonplussed by the concept. The sophomore had to be taught to turn the iPhone horizontally to film. No one had memorized any lines or even read the entire script all the way through before we met to film. It was a mess. But that was sort of the point.

IMG_5363The sophomore complaining about her marital issues—problems the writer is totally indifferent to.

In the end, I didn’t film all the extra stuff I needed to. It was impossible (how was I meant to film myself getting hit by a car without having access to a car anyway?) and so I improvised, changing the script quite a bit. We got back from break on a Sunday night. The film was due on the class website Monday night to be shown for a Tuesday morning class. I, somehow, got stranded with the task of editing the entire thing by myself (why does this always happen??), which was good because I had complete artistic control, but terrible because it was a monumental job and second opinions are nice (I was also supposed to have read the 400 pages of Ulysses I was behind on by Monday afternoon and write a 10 page paper on it by Tuesday).

I pulled an all-nighter Monday night to finish editing, figuring it’d be fine to upload the movie to the website late but before class. I fell asleep at 6:30 a.m. as the movie was compressing and slept through the precautionary alarms I’d set. I didn’t wake up until 1 o’clock, completely missing class. I don’t think I’ve ever screwed up that badly academically ever. I nearly missed my 2 o’clock class too, I was so upset over it.

IMG_4711The frustrated writer tries to get away from her writing.

In the end, though, I was lucky. My French teacher was very understanding and didn’t penalize us a bit. I’d punished myself enough anyway.


Long story short: I put a whole heck of a lot of effort into this court métrage. Maybe I’ll post it eventually.

The following excerpts are from an interview I created in which I pretended to be interviewed by a representative from the Cahiers du Cinéma. This was part of the post-film writing we had to do (along with an explanation of our process, inspiration, and decision-making and a synopsis meant to help sell our film to potential buyers).

Cahiers du Cinéma (CDC): D’où est venu l’idée du film?

Réalisatrice (R): D’une scène de Masculin Féminin, en fait. Il y a une scène où Jean-Pierre Léaud voit une dispute entre un homme est une femme qui termine dans la mort de l’homme à la main de la femme, mais la seule chose qui concerne Léaud est le fait qu’elle a laissé la porte de la resto ouverte. Cette idée, cette égocentrisme, m’a fasciné. Notre idée originale était quelque chose avec une écrivaine très égoïste qui cherchait d’inspiration mais qui était trop auto-absorbé à remarquer les événements autour d’elle. L’idée a changé beaucoup, mais ça c’était l’inspiration. Le grain était là, on peut dire.

IMG_5344The film is presided over by the godlike eyes of Marcello Mastroianni. Bit like the eyes of Dr. T. J. Eckleburg.

CDC: Trouvez-vous que votre film reflète bien votre génération ou bien est-ce plutôt une histoire d’une autre époque ou une histoire universelle? Pourquoi?

R: Dans un sens large, peut-être. Dans mon film, il s’agit de la auto-absorption et du sens d’un manque d’inspiration en raison de l’idée que tout a venir avant, tout a été pensé avant: «Il y a rien du nouveau sous le soleil.» Mais je pense aussi que probablement ça c’est toujours un problème. . .

CDC: Est-ce qu’on peut identifier les acteurs avec les personnages ou bien est-ce qu’ils ont dû « jouer » beaucoup?

R: Je ne peux pas parler pour Micere et Herda, mais moi, oui, j’ai identifié avec mon personnage dans une mesure. J’écris et alors je connais le sentiment d’un manque d’inspiration trop bien.

I went full-on Godard in my editing, stealing his intertitle technique (even stealing an actual intertitle from La Chinoise), using jump cuts and faux raccords like mad, stopping and starting music as I pleased. . . it was actually super fun. Even if I did put about 20 hours into it.

Screen Shot 2014-12-02 at 2.09.44 AMOne of my Godardian, self-reflexive intertitles.

Il y a une écrivaine et son amie, un amant et une amante, un roman qui refuse d’être écrite, une voiture inaperçu, un chapeau inexplicable. Nous commençons avec Proust et Kafka, mais nous terminons dans la rue. Le film existe dans un monde entre fiction et réalité qui est surveillé par les yeux de Marcello Mastroianni et qui n’éxiste plus.

Une jeune écrivaine lutte pour terminer son roman, mais elle manque d’inspiration. Elle cherche la littérature pour l’aide et elle ne gagne rien sauf l’idée qu’il n’y a rien de nouveau sous le soleil. Frustrée, elle essaie de laisser son écriture, mais elle ne peux pas. Le monde devient fiction, la fiction devient la réalité. Son amie est ignorée. Il y a du drame, il y a de l’indifférence. L’écrivaine est coincée dans sa tête, incapable de voire le vrai monde. Elle est à la recherche d’inspiration si fort qu’elle ne parvient pas le voir dans le monde autour d’elle. À la fin, l’inspiration la trouve trop tard.

From the synopsis I wrote to sell our film.

Screen Shot 2014-12-09 at 4.05.52 AMOur title, showing the grain I added in the actual film.

For fun, Godard’s synopsis of his most recent film, Adieu au Langage (2014):

The idea is simple:
A married woman and a single man meet.
They love, they argue, fists fly.
A dog strays between town and country.
The seasons pass.
The man and woman meet again.
The dog finds itself between them.
The other is in one,
the one is in the other
and they are three.
The former husband shatters everything.
A second film begins:
the same as the first,
and yet not.
From the human race we pass to metaphor.
This ends in barking
and a baby’s cries.
In the meantime, we will have seen
people talking of the demise of the dollar,
of truth in mathematics
and of the death of a robin.

Screen Shot 2014-12-06 at 1.59.16 PMMe, in my role as a struggling writer caught between fiction and reality.

By the way, you’ve gotta love my hat. I do.


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