Thursday, October 29, 2009

London 15A: Day 11 & 12 - Class & I find a Girlfriend (Class)

Alarm. Wake. Shower and shave. Grab bag. Down stairs. The Starbucks isn’t open, but the Costa is. I cut across to Charring Cross Road and walk past bookstores - one with a recently broken front window, to the Charring Cross Train Station on the other side of Central London. I thought about taking a cab at one point, but I need to get the blood flowing, so it’s better to walk. I’ve allowed myself plenty of time... which is both a good and bad thing. I get to Charring Cross Station early - but can not find the side street the class is on. I keep walking around the station - looking at the buildings with storefronts that might have a theater or some other large room for classes. Nothing.

I stop to buy another coffee at a little place that tries to entice me with a full English breakfast, but I don’t have time. I have to find this classroom space. I try walking around the station again. There’s an alleyway that leads to a residential street. There is zero chance that I am teaching this class in someone’s living room, but I go down the alley to the residential street, thinking there might be offices and such *behind* the train station. But this residential street ends up the street I’m looking for... and there’s a little folding sign that says Raindance in front of one of the apartment buildings. I check the address, it’s correct. Okay, this should be interesting... but now I’m way early. I go back for a second cup of coffee - but no English breakfast... that would make me sleepy.

I go back to the apartment building a half hour before the class, go to the indicated side door, open it... to reveal a very narrow spiral staircase going down down down into hell. Oh, and it smells like piss. At the bottom of the horror movie staircase is a basement that smells less like piss, and that’s where I’m holding t he class. It’s a “rehearsal space” - so there’s an upright piano, some props, and a rack of costumes. Wow! I can play dress up! But I can’t show clips, because there is no DVD player or monitor.

Okay, this is partially my fault. Though I requested this stuff in a couple of e-mails, Elliot sent me an e-mail yesterday asking if I still needed the equipment, and because I am developing a lousy attitude about this class, I ignored it. How many times do I have to request equipment? Problem is - I really should have confirmed it. Though all kinds of things are making me angry about this class - no brochures, no posts to UK screenwriting groups, Elliot continuing to tell me how broke they are - when Elliot is trying to be helpful and double checking things I’m being a dismissive asshole. And I’m *still* being an asshole, because I snap at the Raindance folks who have volunteered to help run the class in exchange for sitting in, that there’s no damned DVD player. They get on the phone (which requires climbing the dungeon steps to get a signal) and call Elliot, and he rushes over with all of the equipment. And still being an asshole, I do noth thank him. You see, I *expected* the equipment to be there waiting for me.

This is the smallest class I have ever taught. After 5 classes of 140-200 people, standing room only, I hand out my 15 syllabuses and start talking. You might think that a smaller class is less work than a larger class, but it’s really much more work. Instead of being part of a large group, people become individuals - and everyone wants individual attention. They ask about the specifics of their script, they interrupt more. This is not anything against the students - it’s the nature of a small class. All of the questions were good ones, and it was a lively and interactive class. But I couldn’t just run on automatic, I had to think on my feet and *work*. A larger class where I would have made more money would have been less work. Funny how it works out like that. Bob McKee can do a completely automatic lecture to 300 people at $600 a head and you can’t ask questions or make eye contact or even pee unless it’s an assigned break... but I have a room with just over a dozen people and I have to *work*.

The class goes great, lots of smart people, and Saturday night instead of going to see movies, I sit in a Starbucks and burn a stack of CDs with the other class materials and a bunch of screenplays on PDF. Sunday morning I sleep later, always a mistake, and have to race to get to class. Less time quaffing coffee means it takes me a while to rev up, but I get the rhythm and the day zooms by. Sunday has a couple of longer clips designed to give my voice a rest, but the clips are really good - the first ten minutes of GODFATHER PART 2 and a ten minute cartoon from FANTASIA 2000.

Saturday I went more than an hour over time to cover all of the material and answer all of the questions, but Sunday I have to leave when the class is over because it is closing night of the festival - and I’ve snagged a ticket for Janet’s friend Suzanne (Janet has a ticket) and the three of us are going to have dinner together before the movie and party. One of the Raindance staff (Rory - great guy) comes in close to the end of the class to tell me that Janet e-mail me a slightly incorrect location for the restaurant, and gives me the actual location. So class ends... and I still end up talking for almost half an hour while trying to pack up and leave. There are always people who have last minute questions, and know this is the last chance they have to ask me (except, or course, e-mail - send me your questions!). So I end up *racing* from Charring Cross Station to the restaurant location, overshoot by a block, and have to double back. Pisser is - I have this bag with my 20 lb book of class materials on my shoulder for the rest of the night.

TO BE CONTINUED (in about 2 hours)

- Bill


Bullet Movies said...

It's Charing Cross not Charring Cross. Google it.

wcmartell said...

Dang - My screw up... and the way through. The automatic letter doubling before "ing" thing. Thanks!

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