Here are a couple of my crazy experiences at Film School:
I was invited to attend a meeting between two of the Grad Dip Directing teachers and one of their students. The student was pitching her idea (for a short film), and they all felt that it might be useful to have feedback from a screenwriting student. The student was pitching a very dark story when she was interrupted by her teachers, they felt that the story needed to be much more subversive. The teachers suggested that the characters in her story (teenaged girls) might have sex with each other, or perhaps...cannibalism. At this point I started looking around the room for the candid camera set-up, then I courageously asked what exactly they meant by subversive, they looked at me like I was an idiot. I explained that I knew what it MEANT, but I just didn't understand its use here, in this context...who is the target audience for this film? They answered - Film Festivals, of course, duh. Apparently you won't get a foot in the door to any Film Festival anywhere in the world unless you are subversive. At the end of the meeting they thanked me, and I haven't heard from them since.
My writing teachers are quite the amateur psychologists, and they like to guess why it is each of us chooses a certain genre or theme. My second attempt at a story for a TV pilot involved a detective agency which specialises in debunking supernatural occurrences. My teachers thought it was pretty clear that I had a very strong aversion to the supernatural; I told them that, in fact, I had chosen this topic because I am ambivalent about the supernatural and therefore thought I could be more objective about characterisations and storylines. They were not convinced and felt that I was too close to the premise."Choose something else," they said. The two weeks I had spent laboriously thinking up this story flashed through my head at that moment as a series of moving images - Master Cb with no clean school uniform, no milk or bread in the house, the dog unwalked, my mother's phone messages unanswered, Mister Cb's tentative enquiries as to my wellbeing responded to with sharp shrieks of annoyance, Miss Cb's attempts to help only reminding me that I should be her mother and not the other way around. All this went through my head as they suggested that I "think something new up." The male teacher saw my look of horror and was clearly pondering how best to help me. He then said, "What does your husband do?" Yes.he.did. I responded by laughing. He asked if that offended me. I said that it did indeed offend me. He explained his reasoning - he remembered that I had mentioned that I like "Mad Men," and he thought that perhaps I could use the details I know about my husband's line of work, whatever that may be, to write a similar story to Mad Men. I just kept laughing, really, honestly, I tell you!!! I.KNOW.
Thank goodness for inspiring films, here is the trailer for "Welcome," which I highly recommend: