Someone needs to sing their praises: you know, the men and women who mentor, intern and teach film. This last summer, I returned to the University of Oregon to attend classes being offered through the new Cinema Studies Department. I had formerly attended the U of O as a child of the 60’s, who had wanted to be a poet. As a direct result of the people I met there, I became a poetic cinema filmmaker.
In those days we had a 16mm Éclair camera, a Nagra and a Movieola, making experimental films. Before we knew it, we had a studio, were making local television commercials and getting hired by Hollywood productions coming to the state. We were largely self-taught, and mentored each other. Imagine what we could have accomplished with a formal education in film!
The photograph above, on the set of “Animal House,” is the only film school I had ever attended; which was in itself a wild crash coarse in filmmaking. So, you can imagine how incredible it was to return to attend classes, especially film classes, on the same campus where I had nervously held my first key positions as both Location Scout and Location Casting Director.
I was so amazed by what I learned this summer! I had just attended a Town Club luncheon with our Film Commissioner Vince Porter and Dr. Kathleen Karlyn from the U of O, and was so impressed with what I heard about the program that I decided to take 3 classes: Introduction to Film, Philosophy of Film, and Media Aesthetics.
In the first 3 weeks of classes I learned more about the formal properties of film than I had in over 30 years as a filmmaker. I was able to fill huge gaps in my knowledge about the “invisible norm” and “polysemy.” I was also honored to contribute some insider knowledge about experimental film of the 60’s, and the existential western genre. But most importantly I found that the U of O has brilliant students and dedicated professors.
I urge you to join me now in support of the 2nd feature film created by Dr. Carter Soles’ production company Fleem: “A Tale of Persephone,” to premiere on March 19 @ noon at the Bijou Cinema in Eugene. Directed by Emily West Afanador, it’s another powerful collaboration of filmmakers resulting from meeting in the unique environment of the University of Oregon’s Academia.