A Celluloid Being: Nail Biting in a Tempest

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First Semester, Fourth Year: Independent Project

At the beginning of this school year, I had long, beautiful nails. I was so happy that I finally kicked the habit of biting them (an oral fixation I’ve had ever since I can remember). I could finally paint them, shape them, open tricky plastic packaging with them, or scratch someone’s eyes out with them. I felt very mature –– a sophisticated lady with dainty fingers. Unfortunately, my nails are once again nubs and I can’t even remember how they reverted back this way. One day my nails were long and then they were bitten down into sad, rectangular (the horizontal being the longer sides) pieces of keratin.

I blame stress.

I’m a senior in high school and in the process of applying to college. One could possibly call this situation “the bane of my existence.”

I don’t believe applying to college would be as stressful as it is had I decided not to apply to FILM SCHOOL. Along with the regular applications, I also have to submit supplemental pieces to even be considered for film schools. It makes perfect sense to me why I would have to submit extra work, but it also stresses the heck out of me. And I’ve got a lot of “heck.”

I know I shouldn’t complain because I’m setting myself up for the rest of my life, but I’m also setting myself up for the rest of my life.

Another important factor to add in this explanation of my unpalatable, weird, multilayered anxiety cake is that part of this “supplemental application” involves submitting a video piece (not a reel) with a running time no longer than five minutes. I include “not a reel” because if a reel was an option, I would edit together the best bits of all my past work. But, no –– I have to submit a full on movie. Some schools do accept reels or pieces longer than five minutes but, I have to fit the requirements of a every school I am applying to regardless.

Then the next question arises. “Can’t you submit a five minute movie you have already made?” My answer is: “Yes. I could, but unfortunately I am incapable of creating a film that is less than five minutes in length.” In fact, I can’t even make one less than ten. The films that I have already made would make little to no sense if I attempted to cut them down to five minutes, so that is not a possibility either.

The only option left is to make a movie, written to be less than five minutes, specifically for submitting to colleges.

And this brings me to the film I am working on now. It’s something that I want to make, but the idea that it’s the key into the mysterious world of college makes the whole process much more stressful. Not to mention the approaching deadline makes things exponentially more daunting.

The Screenplay
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Currently, I am almost finished with the pre-production of the film.

Pre-production is not super action packed or interesting, but it’s essential. The activity, which involves me sitting in a chair for hours scribbling shot lists, locations, props lists, important points, etc., must be done in order to have a smooth process. I have to say, sometimes it feels like I’m dragging my feet during this stage of filmmaking, but without it, I would feel even more frazzled on set than I already do.

The working title is “The Way Things Are,” and as you can tell, I’m a super inventive titler. The film follows a boy who wants to become an astronaut, but is held back from his dreams due to circumstances in his life on earth. It’s about someone with a big dream who is aware that he may never reach it for reasons he can’t control.

I wanted to make this film because recently, I’ve been feeling similarly. Of course I consciously know that the only thing that could ever hold me back from reaching my dreams is myself, but sometimes I feel like the world isn’t set up for a girl like me to end up as a successful filmmaker. I don’t exactly know what I mean by “a girl like me,” though often I feel helpless in the box I was born into. I know –– I can do anything, Mom, but sometimes the world feels so heavy that I don’t have the strength left to do anything but lay in my bed and eat hot cheetos.

Even though the film’s creative origin kind of freaks me out, I am excited to make it. I already have actors to play the leads and written out my pre-production notebook –– the book that plans it all. My goal for it to be done is November 25, which means I have to hustle, but I think I can make it. My first application is due on December 1 so I guess I’m going to have to make it. YIKES.

Here are a few beauteous photos of my Preproduction Notebook.

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I feel like I’m in the middle of a tempest with my feet buried in the ground to keep me from blowing away. The seemingly endless wind whips my body, throwing me around, daring me to unplant my feet and drift away.

My life right now is a tempest; college applications, senior classes, friendships swirl around my head, making me want to get swept up and carried away. But if I just stick out the next few month and keep my feet planted in the ground, the storm will end.

In the meantime, my nails will remain nubby and ragged. I guess my subconscious doesn’t want me to scratch anyone’s eyes out.

Sometimes I feel like scratching my own eyes out. Now that’s the real Oedipus Complex.

I’m sorry for such an extended pity-party, but this was really therapeutic.

Until next time,

Maya, Mo, A Celluloid Being

Words and Photos by Maya Hirota

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