In the second year I made a shot film called “fears”, and guess what it is about. I regret only one shot out of it, but that’s ok. The rest were quite bad, I must say… I don’t know, some were better, some were not so good.
We also started writing scripts, which is by the way, harder than you can imagine. The first times I had to write something out of my head, whether there was a storyline or a dialogue, I found it too hard for me to handle. I put all my ambition into movement and in a year or two became one of the best at writing. Now I know that my “being good at it” is not good enough. And the same goes for everything. It wasn’t until after college when I read, studied and learned what art is and how culture works.
Back then, I did not have a clear idea of what I thought and of what I wanted to do, but two of my colleagues had. I was getting along with them quite well, which was great, because they helped me a lot and I am grateful for that. I wish I could have helped them more, but I hope they didn’t hesitate to ask me when they needed me. Anyway, these two boys started around the second year of school I guess to make a web series. Their idea was, I can only imagine, “let’s make what we make in school, which is short films, but not have to deal with everyone’s criticism. Let’s let (as it is only normal) the public decide. As it was somehow expected, the reaction they got from the school was very bad. Students and teachers commented on their web series, saying how awful it is. And I can say it was not the best thing in the world, but that didn’t even matter, as it was a small hit online. Even though their audience was not the demographic they had gone for, they had tons of people telling them how great their series is. Now that’s a strange thing, don’t you think? The Internet and film are all about reaching an audience. A film without an audience does not exist. Maybe in two hundred years it will be discovered and sold for a gazillion something at an auction but generally this medium is made for immediate viewing. Especially in today’s world. I made a documentary but it was ment to be shown only for my family, it was a gift, because it was a montage of videos I had shot over the years.
But I can’t say I didn’t have fun working at projects. Ok, maybe not until the third year, but anyway. For example, I had a lot of fun working on a project which was shot at night. A girl from my class had this idea that needed to be shot at night, and she asked me to be the assistant to the assistant to the assistant, or something like that, but I promoted myself twice that night. That was a joke I was making around on the two nights of filming. It was cool that she wanted me on the set. I don’t think people liked it that I used to joke around all night, as everyone was exhausted because of the late hours. But it was cool that I was there. A few days after, I think we went out or something and I have to say, my jokes are much more appropriate in a casual environment than in a working one, which is OK with me.
I remember in the third year, before on exam I actually wrote on paper what the teacher would tell us, why our documentary is bad. The documentary was so bad, that it is my favorite film I did in school. It was so bad that I laughed the whole time we watched it together with our teacher and colleagues who were horrified!
We also had really amazing projects which we completed in different prisons of Romania. I, like most or all of my colleagues, had never been to a prison before. I was a different kind of experience, and it catches amazing reactions when I’m on the bus starting a story with “when I was in prison…” I guess the whole purpose was to make us less prejudiced towards people who are in prisons.
I also loved a class where we would record weekly tv shows. Of course they were nothing of what I wished they were, but for me it was an amazing experience. I was also happy to have one or two colleagues I could rely on I guess and they were very helpful. One of them was the girl I talked about earlier, and another was one of the “co-founders” of the on-line series.
Even though they did not get along with each other, I managed to stay in good relations with both. And there were other colleagues I started talking to. But my experiences were different, meaning, they would be friendly with me, but never actually done or say anything friendly.
We also had a colleague from Korea, a girl who was an exchange student, as we had one who went there. I kind of got along well with her, talked about a lot of things and worked on a few projects together. I even interviewed her for our weekly tv show, but I don’t know where that tape is. We even did a big live-like TV show exam, which one of my classmates and I presented. It was fun and I’m sorry I didn’t practice enough before or that I did not have enough experience. As in a lot of things, I feel now I have a lot more experience. Our South-Korean fellow movie maker was cool and had a lot of ideas that are uncommon in our culture: for example, when she worked on a project with me, she wouldn’t come to my place (by the way, now I lived alone in something that used to be a basement) and work there. Which is better than I thought, as my house wasn’t a good representation of myself. I still feel embarrassed of what it looked like when some of my classmates came over. But I loved it that some of them, the girl I talked about earlier for example, got over it and continued to work with me on several projects, help me when I needed it and became a pal. Apparently the basement was a reoccurring thing, as I took classes and lived in one.
I don’t remember what happened, but my thoughts at the end of the 3rd year were that the year ended with an explosion of hypocrisy. Wow, I sure had a lot to say!
It’s funny how in all this time we continuously speak about ideas and personalities colliding and all sort of things except the essential, which is if I was good as a film director or photographer. However, the third year was the time I stated understanding what producing and directing is actually all about.
I also started not to think about all the things I used to think about so much and reconnected with people I knew and people I didn’t have a problem with. That was better!
In the fourth year, I really knew that there was no going back with anything, and it was the year I accidentally did a stand-up improvisation. And, I have to be honest, I kind of brought the house down.
Some people said I changed. I don’t think I changed, I think they got to know me better.
What changed was that I just couldn’t think about it anymore. Not that what I felt changed but I just couldn’t think about it. So, I guess I had my pals and just civil relationships with other people.
There were also students from other years that I talked to and got to know a little bit. It’s weird how until my last year, we were not connected.
The whole senior year was about directing your graduation film. Everyone had huge projects and I was the only one who did not have a Hollywood-inspired production. It was a simple idea, but everyone liked it. Now the problem was to make it into a film that everyone should like. Not everyone, but many people I hoped.
It was harder than I thought. I had no location, no actors, no script (just a draft) and no crew! While in the first semester I was ahead of everyone, in the second part of the school year I was one of those who was way behind.
In our last year, we had an attempt at team work, which didn’t come out great. We made three episodes from a series, and I was one of the main actors. I was kind of sad because of different reasons, and I remember how at one time a girl said: “I know why he’s sad. He said he doesn’t have enough close-ups.” Some people actually believed it and I don’t know what was funnier, the joke or that people actually believed it!
Now it was all about finishing that license movie, which was supposed to be seven to twenty minutes long. I had the best coordinating teacher I could ask for, and I am grateful for all the things he thought me through the years. But the production process was a bit slow and I didn’t know what to do, as most of the students were involved in each other’s projects and would not help me.
Through my pal, I reconnected with a teacher we had earlier in our learning process. She was always great and said that she is happy to help me. Because she was highly involved in the theater world, she managed to convince some actors to appear in my film. I also received a lot of help with the script from her and many other things. I finally managed to pull a team together and shot my movie. The film was first shown in a Cluj cinema, at our graduation ceremony. It was a comedy, and to my surprise, it got laughs. My colleagues were not very enthusiastic about it. A girl came and told me her family enjoyed my film, which was a great thing for me. I guess two others showed their appreciation. The teacher who had helped me was there too, and she said it was horrible. Yes, truly horrible and a fail! I was so surprised, not because she didn’t like it, although I wish she had, but because it’s not a good thing, in my opinion, to tell someone how bad their project was at their graduation ceremony. It was fun how everyone was congratulating each other and I didn’t get much feedback. However, when it came to grades, my film was one of the three that got the maximum grade and a lot of great feedback from the commission that evaluated the films.
After the screening and the presentation of our written papers, almost all my colleagues disappeared and I have not seen them since. I did not even receive a message online, like “congrats! See you at the reunion!” My pals and a guy who is one year younger were the only people who talked to me after it was all done. I felt it was strange that 16 people who had been together for four years could not say good-bye to each other. But that’s life.
Now I feel like I wasted so much energy into trying to change people or building something that wasn’t going to be real afterwards anyway. So, as far as I’m concerned they can do whatever the hell they want.
I decided to practice what I preach and allow them to live. If I believe they should accept me for who I am, then I should accept them. And yes, so far this is the key to life.
What I felt lacked in my formation was the fact that we didn’t do any reality shows or other genres. I know it was considered an art school and that everyone was too above it and that even doing reports ment professional prostitution for most, but it’s hard for me to understand why this would lack, given the fact that they are the most common format of the future. Whatever. I’m sticking to my opinion.
I now realize that even though it seemed like nothing came true, those were all the steps I needed to climb to be who I am and know what I know and to can what I can. Too much repetition in the last sentence.
I am really curious how all the people who I knew in college saw it. How did the teachers perceive me, how did the other students see me and what did everyone else make of the whole process?
I don’t know at what stage I am now, but I don’t even want to think of what stage I was when I started.
I am sad that I got judged based on weird reasons, and I am the first one to admit that I did a lot of bad projects. But what we all need to learn is that in the creative work environments failure is necessary and useful in order to progress.
I don’t know how it would have been if I had studied someplace else. When we had our final exams, I met a guy I knew who had studied the same thing in Bucharest. I couldn’t tell him that I used one of his ideas in one of my projects.
All I can say is that I just spoke to my pals and along with a huge bag of knowledge, that’s what I take from college.