Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Meat? Cute! (AKA, I Made a Movie.)

So, I think I was set up on a meet-cute by God.

For those not so versed in the shorthand of everyone's favorite filmic genre—that is, of course, the Rom(antic) Com(edy)—"meet-cute" refers to the oft adorable way in which your charmingly flawed protagonist pair first encounter one other. Common examples include mixed-up food orders, shared recognition of a song—&, inevitably, on-street bumpings-into, pratfalls, or other generally unrealistic levels of clumsiness.

The meet-cute is a particularly dangerous stumbling block for screenwriters, too—particularly screenwriters of particularly short films—particularly young student screenwriters of particularly short films who are particularly strapped for ideas. For example, at the end of last semester, some friends & I spent a box of wine trying to come up with a 12-page story for my final assignment, only to realize that every single remotely interesting or comedic idea we had was ultimately a meet-cute—to the point where we resolved to make either one of two films: 1) Meat? Cute!, in which a young-at-heart dreamer, played by Zooey Deschannel, visits a down-on-his-luck butcher, played by Joeseph Gordon-Levitt, at which point the two have profoundly raunchy sex among the carcasses & the film reveals itself to be a hardcore porn; or 2) A Fucking Autobiography of Frida Fucking Kahlo in 12 Fucking Pages Or Less: A Meet-Cute Between Man & God. (This one came toward the very end of the box.)

Still, it's important to note that meet-cutes are commonly regarded as loathsome not only for their ubiquity, but for their ubiquity despite the fact that they are, by definition, deeply & fantastically unrealistic—even, indeed, when you're actually dropped into one.

To set the stage: last Thursday, snagging dinner before an evening class, I sat down at an unoccupied-enough table in one of the school's least economically designed dining facilities with the intention to dine & dash, when I noticed the gentleman sitting a mere few seats away. He was:

1) ...reading the second issue of The Eye, which I had spent until 2 AM the previous night putting together—for which I wrote a short piece on silent film (&, more importantly, calling James Franco both a masturbator & a buffoon).
2) ...sitting by a bundle of filmmaking equipment, which was clearly from the same place I had visited earlier that afternoon to check out my own supply.
3) ...not-so-quietly singing "In Dreams" by Roy Orbison, as used prominently in Blue Velvet, my favorite movie by David Lynch—about whom I had just discovered a fantastically anecdote-worthy video.
4) ...very, very, very, very pretty.

Sure, okay, the whole singing in public thing is indicative of minor insanity, but that's honestly a plus in my book. The long & short of it is, this man was implicitly providing me with a statistical anomaly of possible conversation-starters. For example:

1) So, what do you think? (Pause for look of bepuzzlement.) The magazine. I'm always curious to hear feedback from our readers.
2) Are you shooting this weekend? (Pause for affirmative response.) Me too—what for?
3) Blue Velvet? (Pause for reference recognigtion.) Tell me you've seen the commercials for Lynch's new coffee line. Damn fine.
4) I like your face. Can I put mine close to it, please?

So, which did I use, you ask? Why none, of course, dear Reader. Why, you ask? Who knows.

I could say the sheer number of options was overwhelming (which it was); I could say I had homework to do before class (which I did); that my salad was almost certainly stuck between most of my teeth (also valid); but the plain truth of it is, I am an incorrigible fraidy cat when it comes to making the first move. Indeed, to compensate, I often find myself going to ridiculous extents to create scenarios in which those whom I admire will see me being Effortlessly Attractive & Eminently Approachable, thereby saving me the trouble of instigating. (In this case, that meant prominently laying out marked-up film readings & notebook doodles while craning my neck just so. It was, as usual, unsuccessful; he hummed off without a trace.)

Cut to the short film I was checking out all that equipment in order to make: First Impressions, the product of 72 hours, no lights, & four beautiful (dedicated, talented, wondrous) people. Are there things about it I want to fix? Certainly. Are there things about it I actually can fix & likely will in a soon-to-be-released Special Edition Director's Cut? Probably. Still, for now, it stands: a meet that never quite cutes—or perhaps, the clumsy merger of my (so-called) life & the hastily compiled fictions it tends to produce. Enjoy.

Today's Headphone Fodder:

As an officially declared Film Studies major, when not making movies, I'm often asked to watch/analyze them—& recently, I was lucky enough to have one of those movies be the beyond brilliant Almodóvar career-maker, Law of Desire. Those who've seen the film may remember the song's prominent (& telling) placement, but for those who haven't, 1) do, & 2) you can still enjoy this trillingly mournful little ditty—even if, like me, you speak only the most cursory approximation of Spanish. All you need to know are those thrice repeated eponymous words: I doubt it, I doubt it, I doubt it (...that you will ever find a love purer than the one you have in me—or something like that).

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