Thursday, October 27, 2011

A thank you letter to Mr. Leo McCarey

Dear Mr. McCarey,

May I call you Leo?

I know you’re dead but I’m writing to thank you. I’ve never thanked another artist for anything in my life. That’s because very few have moved me to action like your film did. And as a result of that action I made an old man very happy. It didn’t cost anything except a few minutes of my day. Not even cell phone minutes since I called from my work phone.

Tuesday night I finally watched Make Way for Tomorrow, a film I did not know about until Criterion released it two years ago. I was familiar with a lot of your other films and The Awful Truth is one of my favorite comedies, so I was quite astonished when I started to read about it and its subject matter. Even before seeing it, I thought of Tokyo Story and how Ozu must have seen your film, “one of the great unsung Hollywood masterpieces.” Turns out he did, and as moving as Tokyo Story is, Make Way for Tomorrow blows it away. I know. That’s saying a lot, but bear with me.

Yes, I agree with Orson (he lets me call him that). Make Way for Tomorrow is the saddest movie ever made; it would make a stone cry. But I disagree with Errol Morris that it’s the most depressing movie ever made. Well, it’s depressing if you just sit there and think about how awful it is to get old, your parents and family and not do anything about it. I will never forget the emotions you, Lucy and Barkley elicited. Yes, the emotions were (and still are) almost unbearable and painful but very necessary. Pain makes you feel alive as no dose of happiness can. The emotions were so powerful, that even after sitting through the ending once, I had to rewind and watch it several times until I couldn’t take it anymore and Lucy and Barkley’s expressions were tattooed on my consciousness. When it comes to film, I’m a masochist.

I wish everyone would see this movie, but I can already hear the comments, “A black and white, 74 year old movie with a sad ending? Get the fuck out of here.” So, whoever is reading this blog post, see the email below and take it as a raving review.


I was so surprised and pleased you found the time to call me. I never get any phone calls. [Son] used to call me - only when he needed a personal favor, and I haven't heard from him in the last few months. [Other daughter] NEVER calls me. Oh, she is responsive to my a-mails and she initiates an e-mail , but never physically ever calls and speaks to me. And [daughter-in-law] Never calls.

Realize this: I am a very lonely old man. I miss my wife. And I miss my family. [A BUNCH OF PERSONAL FAMILY STUFF I CAN’T POST HERE.]

Again thanks for your call. I look forward to the next.

Love, your Papa

While it’s true that no movie ever changed the world, I’m positive yours has changed people into kinder sons, daughters and human beings. You are the kind of artist I aspire to be. I thank you and my father thanks you, even though he doesn’t know about you and your movie and how it made me realize some awful truths.

With gratitude and admiration,

Teri Carson

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Monday, October 10, 2011

Moviemaking without actors and accepting you might be a little retarded

For me, as I imagine for most filmmakers, the hardest and most frustrating part of making films is getting actors and crew members to commit to showing up and then actually getting them to show up. 99% of people are flakes and they will leave you stranded if they have something they’d rather do than work on your film. It’s scary. I don’t stop stressing over this until everyone is on location. If this was an easier process, we would probably make more films more often. And then there’s the money issue.

Since I want to be making films all the time, I need to come up with new and creative ways to work with my resources, but also to expand them. I’ve wanted to learn how to animate for a long time. I have lots of ideas that are just sitting there because I can’t execute them. Also, classes and software are expensive. New knowledge doesn’t come easily.

A few years ago I signed up for an animation with After Effects and PhotoShop class at community college. I failed. More accurately, I quit before I could fail. On the first day of class, we were supposed to make pieces of fruit and vegetables dance around the screen and eventually converge into a portrait. Like Mr. Potato Head, except it was a Mr. Pineapple Head. The broccoli floret was supposed to be nose. I just couldn’t get the fucking carrot sticks to bust a move; I couldn’t make it work. I finally got the teacher’s attention and asked for help. She came over and very quickly “explained” the steps. But she was a bad teacher. The kind that just does it for you really quickly and expects you to get it. I decided to drop out of the class because, if that was her MO, I knew I wasn’t going to learn anything, let alone turn produce into the Dancing with the Stars ballroom. In retrospect, I could have stayed and struggled but I didn’t because I didn’t like feeling stupid. That was the only time I didn’t get how to do something. That was the only time I’ve quit something. (Well, that’s not exactly true. I quit a theater acting class after the teacher called me a head in a cart. The world never got to see my Kafka’s Metamorphosis soliloquy, which I adapted and was going to deliver rolled up like a cockroach. But that’s another story.)

So for years I’ve been launching and closing and launching and closing PhotoShop and feeling quite retarded. Accepting that there might be something that’s difficult for you after a life of everything coming easily is a bitter process. But I have accepted it and Saturday I learned that you have to get past that fear of finding out you’re not all that in order to evolve into a better human being.

The first thing I told the instructor (Cosmo Segurson) is that PhotoShop is my archenemy. He told me he also struggled (hard to believe after seeing his work), and that if I kept on using it eventually I would get it. Sure, that’s what everyone says. These days I’m not the shy person I used to be and during class I became one of those annoying students who’s always raising her hand for help. I paired the gesture with the words “I don’t get it, I don’t get it,” and the instructor would run over. Now, that’s a good teacher.

When I finally got the hang of it, I became euphoric with the possibilities. If I stuck to it, I would be able to do stuff using Final Cut Pro and PhotoShop, software I already own. All I’d need is me, my camera and a higher tolerance for PhotoShop failure. More importantly, I am now armed with the knowledge that saying “I don’t get it” won’t fucking kill you.

Below is a very basic video I made in class. You don’t have to look very closely to see I suck at PhotoShop. However, I am happy to announce that, even though it took me all day yesterday, my skills have improved and I will have another sample to show you very soon. Triumph will be mine!

Friday, October 07, 2011


"I also learned that to love a man is bad for strong, independent women.  It’s the equivalent of fries.  We want them and boy do they taste good but in reality they make us fat and unhealthy and have almost no nutritional value.  Men can try to make us believe that jizz is nutritious but it’s not."  Me

The cool chicks at Fempire Fandom thought I'd be a worthy interview.

HERE IS the full interview.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Lunch time activities: Revolution

 I’ve been wishing I lived in New York City for the past few days just so that I could participate in the occupation of Wall Street. I’ve also been researching what demonstrations are going on and being planned in Los Angeles. I wrote a Tweet I didn’t post: “Revolution is brewing and you people are tweeting about a dead gazillionaire.”

This afternoon at around 1:15 I leave my office to get a sandwich and as I’m walking out of my building I see something is going on a block away. I know what it is. At least I hope it is what I think it is. I run back upstairs and grab my phone and Flip camera and head over there. By the time I got down there the intersection of Figueroa and 7th is swarming with LAPD; I look up and see helicopters. It’s going down bitches.

I start recording immediately and suddenly find myself in the middle of the street among the protesters. A large open deck truck carrying people is smack in the middle of the street inching into position. On one corner, Chase Bank and right across, Bank of America. I just keep on recording and chanting and taking pictures at the same time. I hold back tears. I can’t believe I’m there. I've never been in the right place at the right time.My faith in Americans is renewed and I'm surprised my love for humanity is still in me. It’s the first time in a long time I feel truly alive.

Things get a little tense when protesters who have entered Bank of America start getting arrested and thrown into the paddy wagon. These people are real heroes. Would I get risk arrested again? I don’t know the answer to that. Yet.

The whole thing is over in about 40 minutes. The speakers in the truck thank the LAPD for being good sports and demand they get a raise. Then I head over to the Chase ATM and get the $40 I needed. I get back to the office and ask a coworker to go get me a gyros since I didn’t get lunch.

Viva la Revolucion!