July 29, 2004

Hey, So Did I

rosenblatt_used_to_be.jpgI first came across Jay Rosenblatt's short film in March, as I was surfing across the Silverdocs site, getting ready to submit my own tape.

It wasn't just the title, but the combination of title and picture. Rosenblatt was holding his daughter up in the air. The one sentence-synopsis read, "Video cameras come with an owner's manual and babies don't, so documentary filmmaker Jay Rosenblatt uses the first to understand the second." The title: I Used to Be A Filmmaker.

In the first few weeks after our own kid was born, when even dubbing a couple of screeners felt like a major accomplishment, I saw my entire life in Rosenblatt's title alone. I read some reviews (all very good) and thought, the guy spent two years on one short? I am cooked.

Actually, what Rosenblatt did was construct an interface between two worlds: his own as a documentarian and film instructor, and his new daughter's. Or more precisely, he bridged his own two worlds, his passion/profession and his family. All in about 10 minutes. 10 minutes over the course of two years.

In I Used to be a Filmmaker, Rosenblatt uses scenes from the first 18 months of his daughter's life to illustrate various film production terms. The still above was from "pickup shot," for example. A scene where he gets her to stop crying is called MOS. It's sometimes corny, but usually very funny, and it works. Rosenblatt takes some of the most unrepentantly self-indulgent imagery known to mankind--a smitten new dad's home movies--and by giving it structure and context, makes it not just watchable by others, but actually entertaining. No small feat.

Unlike most shorts, which directors use as calling cards for the coming feature, I Used to be a Filmmaker is what it is, complete. Which made it stand out on the festival circuit enough for Shiela Nevins to buy it for Cinemax, the Sabrina to HBO's Samantha. It premiered on Father's Day, and will have its last scheduled broadcast is tonight, Thurs. 7/29, at 6:35PM east coast, 9:35PM west coast.

Since 2001 here at greg.org, I've been blogging about the creative process—my own and those of people who interest me. That mostly involves filmmaking, art, writing, research, and the making thereof.

Many thanks to the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Program for supporting greg.org that time.

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first published: July 29, 2004.

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