Friday, March 9, 2012

Undergraduate Meets Legendary Director

UAlbany sophomore Marisa Mazart (pictured with maverick movie director John Sayles) writes about her experiences at the John Sayles events on February 27th:

Hi readers! My name is Marisa Mazart and I am a volunteer at the Writers Institute. I had the pleasure of meeting the independent film director, screenwriter and novelist John Sayles after the seminar on February 27th. The seminar was question-and-answer based. It was housed in the Campus Center of the University at Albany, and was open to the public. John Sayles was able to captivate the audience with every answer he gave, and his intelligence and sense of humor shined. After attending the seminar I was extremely eager to meet him. Interested in pursuing a career in film, I immediately grasped the opportunity to discuss film production with John. My main passion is film editing. I asked John how he edited his own films. And to my surprise he started editing films before they became digital. He wrote, directed and edited most of his films, like the 1980s movie Return of the Secaucus Seven which focuses on a the reunion of a group of college students. With no previous experience, he had to learn how to edit his film right on the spot. Even though this might have been a limitation in how his early works were edited, he spoke about his early movie career with a big smile. His advice to me was to look into film school. Unfortunately, this option is costly so he also advised me to make sure I am familiar with the new editing softwares that are now available like Final Cut Pro, and to also seek out internships in order to get my foot in the door.
John Sayles is very friendly, and responded to my question about why his movie Passion Fish is named what it is with the utmost honesty. Towards the end of the movie one of the characters cuts open a fish and calls the smaller fish inside its stomach “passion fish.” What an odd name! I had to ask John why it is called passion fish and why the movie is called the same name. I mistakenly thought there might have been a symbolic meaning, but when John revealed the name was chosen because it was the winner of a contest I was presently surprised. I couldn’t help but chuckle at his response. Importantly, he emphasizes that naming a movie is a very difficult process and sometimes the best way is to collaborate.
I learned a lot the night I met John Sayles, and not just information relating to film. Being a novelist he also divulged how he is able to get into the minds of his characters not just in film but in novels as well. He said it is because of his acting experiences in college. Being able to play many characters and get a feel for how they act in certain situations influenced how he portrayed his characters in his recent novel A Moment in the Sun.
I am extremely happy I was able to meet John Sayles, and as my friends can report I was jumping up and down all night with the adrenaline rush from meeting such a respected and experienced director and writer.