I wouldn't say I'm depressed, just directionless. I don't know where I'm going or even where I want to be going. That's pretty much where I was last year about this time, when I decided to give myself a sabbatical.
Well, as Bink says of pilgrimage, the trick is just to keep on walking. Even if you go in circles.
The main thing I have accomplished since I got back from Las Vegas 5 days ago is printing out the application form for the Cinema Division at the community college.
Turns out--not surprisingly--entrance to the filmmaking division is competitive. (And they only accept new students once a year, in the fall. So I'm too late for this year anyway.)
You do not, in contrast, have to submit a 5-page application to study Homeland Security (HS).
Just to make sure I wasn't misleading you on this, I checked the HS requirements, and I want to share with you some of the 3-credit courses you need to take to earn a "Homeland Security Basic Certificate":
Emergency Management Systems
Hazardous Materials Awareness
Terrorism and Emergency Management
Weapons of Mass Destruction
I find this enormously touching somehow, in its reduction of chaos to bureaucratic lingo. Such faith, to offer "terrorism management."
But why do I not feel safer that some kid just out of high school has sat through a community college course in Weapons of Mass Destruction?
The school warns prospective students that certain jobs in security do require extensive criminal record checks, which rules out the Def Con kids, I suppose, who would be really cracker-jack at it.
But that's all beside the point.
The Cinema Division application gives me reason to get out of bed.
Here's the question that really lit a fire:
"Name two films and filmmakers/screenwriters you admire. Explain why. 200 words maximum" (Boldface theirs, but I would have bf'd it anyway.)
Two films and filmmakers? In two hundred words?
That is a challenge.
Oddly enough, the first filmmakers who popped into my mind are Powell and Pressburger (links to a guide to their top 7 films), known collectively as The Archers (logo above).
Maybe because they're a two-fer and I could name another filmmaker too?
More likely because they are unusual in the filmmaking world for being a collaborative team, and, as I've written before, that really appeals to me. The Kirk and Spock of the filmmaking world.
I don't think the Archers are very well known in the US. I first watched their A Canterbury Tale (1944) because I'm interested in pilgrimage. It follows a very odd pscyho-sexual mystery during WWII (some guy puts glue in a young woman's hair), but really it's all caught up with showing how places hold layers of time. (Not a very American concern, usually.)
It's really interesting, but I'm not sure I'd casually recommend that film. I would unreservedly recommend I Know Where I'm Going!, (1945, currently available on DVD from the Criterion Collection--links to a page of the Archers' films available from CC).
IKWIG is also replete with P&P's spititual sense of place, and has the most wonderful big, wet, shaggy dogs! that get on the furniture. Their owner is an attractive and intriguing character played by Pamela Brown.
The story follows a young English woman (Wendy Hiller, the future dame) who is sure she knows where she's going: to be rich, even if it means marrying a rich old man she doesn't love.
The weather traps her on the wild coast of Scotland, and she stays with the independent Pamela Brown character, where she meets and falls in love with Roger Livesey, who is, of course, poor. (But handsome. And a Scottish laird. And very nice.)
The Bechdel Test
Come to think of it, this film passes the Bechdel Test, which Jen just told me about. Alison Bechdel writes a cartoon strip (and blog) called "Dykes to Watch Out For", in which, Jen tells me:
"a character says she can't remember the last time she saw a movie:
1. With two female characters
2. Who speak to each other
3. About something other than a man.
She closes the strip by saying the last one she saw that passed was Alien, because two women talk about the female monster."
Well, I don't know that I even want to study filmmaking, but I will enjoy the work of filling in the application. There's nothing like some good questions to clear the fog and help you see where you are going, or, sometimes even more usefully, where you don't want to go.
Finally there's this question:
"How did you become interested in cinema? Describe the circumstances that led to the discovery of this interest."
To be answered in 100 words maximum.
Answering that will be like John Le Carre's reflection on writing a screenplay from a novel: it is, he said, like reducing an ox to a bouillon cube.
Oh, there's also a note on the application form requesting that the applicant "Please spell-check your responses."
I wonder if you have to spell-check to get into Homeland Security.
Now I am going to go watch Woody Allen's Stardust Memories. Research, you know. I love films about filmmaking. Ah, that's another post.