April 12, 2004

When The Critic Becomes The Extra

You know its Spring in New York City when you can't walk down the street without stumbling over power-cords leading to 10 foot spot lights. The film crews have returned to the shores of fair Manhattan, although we're still quite overcast and chilly here. We've noticed more so this year because Cinecultist kinda took MUG's essay last week on criticism to heart. Though Charlie mostly leveled his commentary at theater and restaurant critics, who can willy nilly make or break an establishment or event, we thought this part following applicable to film critics as well.

"...[Walter] Kerr wrote about the National Critics Institute (now the O'Neill Critics Institute) in Connecticut which was formed essentially to help playwrights and critics understand each better. "It is no doubt good for a critic, now and again, to become involved in the making off a play; it is surely good for the playwright to deal, however temporarily, with a reviewer who is not so much fiend as friend." He writes of one such session: "Prowling through the big red barn on the premises, I was cheered to see Edith Oliver of The New Yorker sitting most casually on the floor alongside her assigned author, checking the manuscript with him while keeping an eye both generous and sharp on the players who were giving life to his lines."

Thus, Cinecultist found ourselves righteously emboldened to head up to Josh Cultivated Stupidity's student film shoot in Yorkville on Saturday morning. We'd agreed to be an extra in one of the school yard scenes, and had even taken the clothing recommendations wearing a white t-shirt, flat black shoes, a coat to keep warm between takes and pants we could slip off under a skirt. White knee high socks were to be provided. Yes, that's right nice Jewish girl Cinecultist had agreed for the love of friendship and good film criticism to dress up like a Catholic school girl. However, when CC arrived at the corner of who-lives-this-far-north Josh was still shooting some of the principals so we headed to the Craft Services table. Even NYU student films have Craft Services and of course Josh's Craft Services had Krispy Kreme donuts so this entertained us for awhile. Then we read a pop culture magazine for a bit. Then everyone too a break while they set up the zoom lens. "This participating in the making of what we critique, Cinecultist can totally do this!" we thought to ourselves in third person.

After being on set for nearly an hour, Josh told us we could go with the costume girl to the van and get our plaid skirt and white button down top on. But those skirts would not have been forgiving on the CC derriere and it is at this point, we realized we really had to get going. Critics are critics for a reason, we don't want to be in front of the camera in knee-high socks. But to see our little Joshie yelling action like an actual director, giving the actresses pep talks and making decisions, it warmed the cockles of our Cinecultist heart. And we can't wait to offer our informed critic/muse/quasi-participant opinion of the completed project.

Posted by karen at April 12, 2004 10:32 AM