Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Clemson, SC: Future filmmakers

“How did your business background prep you for filmmaking?”

Day 8: November 19th CLEMSON, SC: Clemson University

At Clemson University, we experienced our first true college audience. Out of the 70 people who attended the screening, only about 5 were non-students. Aga Skrodzka-Bates gave an introduction to the film, and she was the first speaker to identify the film as a “lyrical documentary”, a relevant distinction to make when you’re dealing with an audience of film students and future filmmakers. This time when Scott asked, “How many people do not drink tea?” only seven people raised their hands.

From the film majors, the questions during the discussion were typically more focused in nature. One question was, “How did your business background prep you for filmmaking?” Scott answered that his background helped him in the fields of planning, budgeting, and knowing the bottom line. Before leaving the “rat race”, he worked in marketing on various health and beauty products, including Trojan condoms (audience laughs here). “I learned a lot about how to get the main selling point across, but my main objective here was to make a film that I loved.” Then he joked, “tea, like condoms, has redeeming social value and is very good for your health!”

Another student asked, “What was your budget?” Scott deftly dodged that question, responding, “It was somewhere between a home movie and what it cost to make The Titanic.” The next question was “What kind of cameras did you use to shoot the film?” The answer: the majority of the film was shot in High Definition using a Sony HDV camera, and about 12 hours were shot in 16mm using an Aaton camera. The 16mm film was chosen to bring up the production values.

This audience was very enthusiastic, and several students came to talk to Scott after the film. One particularly energetic student named David Williams compared The Meaning of Tea to a Werner Herzog film, a director that both he and Scott adore; Scott was incredibly humbled and nearly beside himself with the compliment. When I came out of the theater, Scott was surrounded by a group of students chatting away about film, and their individual film projects. After the film, we stopped by at the Sonic drive-in to continue to spread the message of tea.