I have been involved with the Florida State University Film School for about five years. Prior to November 2008, I had been an extra several times, and my son had been in a BFA thesis film, but I had not been in a non-extra role. When Leelund Kim contacted me in November 2009 to perform a speaking role in Shane Spiegel's, Water Wings, I had my first experience of being in someone's "F1," which is a student's first film.
Being part of that F1, which I wrote about in Disheveled, gave me an opportunity to meet the five-student crew at the very start of their Film School journey. Between Fall 2009 and this summer, I worked with them and almost all of their classmates as an extra or volunteer many times. These students graduate next Saturday, and their thesis films will be screened. I won't be able to be at their screenings because Tenley is dancing in "Christmas in Narnia" with her ballet company.
Since I won't be able to say "goodbye" in person, here are some parting thoughts.
For Shane Spiegel, who wrote and directed Water Wings, I still shake my head at my good fortune to be involved in that production, but whatever stars aligned to put me on that set on a November Sunday afternoon, I am glad.
For Leelund Kim, who produced Water Wings, I have never admitted reading this in your Facebook notes because it felt a little stalker-ish, but I agree that "extras need to be directed." Having "extra'd" a lot now, I have come to appreciate a director who takes the time to help us understand where we fit in and how we can help the production be the best it can be.
For Briana Frapart, thank you for your positivity, for your many kindnesses, and for, um, the challenge (which we met of course!!!) of finding light-up Christmas deer at a time of year that was more "Fourth of July" than "25th of December."
For Carissa Dorson, thank you for explaining the term "Director of Photography" to me (yep, I did have to ask). Thank you too for allowing me to extra on Parental Ties, which was the last time I worked with Jarrod Heierman, and for being behind the camera that first time I gave a monologue.
For Justin Reager, you're the only college student with whom I have ever waxed rhapsodic about Lunchables. You really helped me relax that day and made me laugh.
The rest of this post is more general, for all of you in the BFA Class of 2011. In the text that Hugh McLeod uses to explain this drawing, which is part of his Flowers vs. Elephants post:
Image Credit: Hugh McLeod, Gaping Void
He ends with this statement:
.....success is a very delicate flower. It doesn't take a very heavy elephant in order to trample it to the ground.
So one has to work twice as hard, keeping those pesky elephants out of the yard.
The trouble arises when you get SO BUSY battling the elephants, you forget all about the flower. We've seen it happen, many times before.
During the time that you have been refining your craft, I have been battling with a lot of things that come along with being closer to 50 than 25. There are some paths in life that are now closed to me, and I have to make peace with that. There are (hopefully) many new adventures awaiting. Sometimes it was hard to look forward to the adventures because of the resignation that comes along with letting go of what won't be.
Each of you, in one way or another, helped me stop battling the elephants long enough to remember the flowers.
Thank you all.