"What does that mean?"
"Why do you keep talking in numbers?"
"Is it some weird USC Mafia code?" Answer: YES
546 is an advanced production class that involves an initial competition for the opportunity to direct -- and I was a finalist to direct.
The first round
Over 50 students apply to direct. We are required to give 10 copies of our directing reel and 10 resumes -- all presented very meticulously so professors can watch them without problems. We are even told how to properly tape the DVDs shut, if we decide to do so. If we do one bit of it wrong, then we're disqualified.
Over 100 scripts are submitted and about 25 producers submit.
The Short List
The short list - the finalists - comes out on a Friday evening at 5pm. For us it was Nov 5th.
I sat in a seminar with all of my colleagues as we waited for that email to be sent out -- the email listing the finalists. I was on my email the entire time - barely paying attention to the speaker. Sorry speaker... I just kept refreshing my email...again... and again.
Then it was sent and you could see everyone in the room whispering to one another and pointing at their phones. Some turned around to congratulate, some were totally bummed, unfortunately.
I was sitting next to my friend, Josh Eiserike, who wrote "Volcano Girl" that made it on the short list of scripts. I high-fived my other friend, Josh Tate, who was also on the director's "short list" with me. He would be my competition in the coming week, but at that moment we could celebrate!
Then it was time to read the 35 scripts - 12 pages each. We had the whole weekend to read in preparation for a meet and greet on Monday. I was producing Marty Go's advanced directing project so it wasn't the most ideal situation to be in when you need to read 420 pages...
I got through most of them but pretty much knew I wanted "Volcano Girl."
The Meet and Greet
More like film student speed dating...
We all get into one room on a Monday afternoon. All of the writers, directors and producers. We get up, introduce ourselves and then the directors show their reels. I, of course, showed "Friday Night Fright." My big pitch is that I like to blend genres -- specifically horror & comedy.
Once the reels are over, the professors say "and Go!" and we run into the hall and talk to everyone. My goal was to finalize which script I wanted to pitch with and then which producer would best suit the project. Some directors work the opposite way. They find their producer and then decide on a script. I knew I wanted Josh and Volcano Girl; and I knew we were going to make fire. I needed to find a producer who was willing to do it -- willing to make fire.
After the meet and greet, I left with about 20 people's contact info who wanted to meet to talk script ideas or producing. The meet and greet lasted for almost 3 hours. I showed up about an hour late to my producing class because of it, but my professor said it was fine!
I went home that night and prepared for the week of meetings to come!