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Posts Tagged ‘Poland’

“I was originally a student of literature and philosophy in London. That’s where I started. I was also a keen photographer and I wrote stories. Poetry was what excited me most when I was in my late teens and early 20s. I loved going to films, but filmmaking didn’t seem like something I could do. The way films were made was very mysterious. I couldn’t imagine what it took to make one.

“Eventually I learned by trial and error. I started making documentaries. That was a great way to learn because they weren’t ‘real’ documentaries. I was always slightly contriving things, shaping things, being a little bit metaphorical with the truth. [laughter] Although mine weren’t classical documentaries, I think they’re by far the most interesting things I’ve ever done, but by far. After I’ve made a feature film, I can’t watch it. But one day, if someone digs them out, I wouldn’t mind seeing those documentaries again and again.

“At the time, you could get money from television for documentaries that didn’t have any particular formula. You could freewheel. In 1995, that all changed and I stopped…Now that I teach, I realize that while it lasted, that was a blessing. I taught a lot at the National Film School in England. Now I teach at the Andrzej Wajda Warsaw Film School in Poland. When I’m not making a film, I spend time teaching. I supervise student projects from inception to final cut. If there are six film students one year, three work with me and three with the other tutor. The students choose the tutor who’s right for them; that way, they want the kind of input I can give. I act as their guide.

“The Wajda Film School is a one-year, project-based program where the students aren’t required to have any film experience. They simply must be interesting artists in their own right with a really good, original project. In a way, it’s more exciting that way: they could be visual artists or novelists who have a project with strong potential.”
Writer/director Pawel Pawlikowski (Ida)
Filmmaker Magazine article by Livia Bloom

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The story of the missing little girl who was found yesterday in Florida has caused quite a stir in the news the last few days. Eleven year old Nadia Bloom has Asperger’s syndrome and wandered off into the woods alone and wasn’t rescued until four days later.

Having grown-up in Central Florida, the area she was rescued is very familiar to me. And this is one time when the press has not given to hyperbole. Calling it the woods doesn’t do it justice—there is a reason why this area is not just another Orlando area subdivison. It is rugged swampland complete with dense foliage, muck and snakes. While I don’t know the exact area where she was rescued, I do know nearby Lake Jesup in Winter Springs is estimated to have an alligator population of over 10,000.

Bloom was thankfully carried out alive with just bug bites and dehydration and I bet one heck of a story to tell. Her father said she, “is a nature lover. She went on a bike ride and stopped and went off to take some pictures.”

The first time I ever heard of Asperger’s syndrome was in a book by playwright/screenwriter David Mamet, Bambi vs. Godzilla;

“I think it is not impossible that Asperger’s syndrome helped make the movies. The symptoms of this developmental disorder include early precocity, a great ability to maintain masses of information a lack of ability to mix with groups in age-appropriate ways, ignorance of or indifference to social norms, high intelligence, and difficulty with transitions, married to a preternatural ability to concentrate on the minutia of the task at hand. This sounds like a movie director to me.”

Mamet goes on to say that the highest prevalence of Asperger’s syndrome is among Ashkenazi Jews and their descendants, which historically just happens to make up the bulk of American movie directors and studio heads. (The Jewish lineage, of course, is not a requirement to be in film industry Mamet points out, but one that includes Goldwyn, Mayer, Spielberg, Mamet himself, and a long list of others.)

While Nadia’s Asperger syndrome may have lead her into the woods to take some pictures, it is probably what helped her survive as she did not appear to panic, but was concentrating on the minutia of the swampland.

I hope her camera and pictures and/or video survived the journey as well. Don’t tell me some Hollywood producers aren’t already working an angle on this story. Nadia’s story is the real life Where the Wild Things Are.* She spent four days (and don’t forget the nights) alone in an area few of us would want to spend four minutes.

Can I get an associate producer credit for my suggested title?: How to Train Your Alligator.

And lastly, Nadia’s story is one reason why happy endings are so popular in movies. Because in real life we are used to seeing so many heart breaking stories when young boys and girls disappear.

*Where the Wild Things Are writer/illustrator Maurice Sendak’s parents were Jewish immigrants to the United States from a small village outside Warsaw, Poland. Mamet points out (via Neal Gabler’s book  An Empire all Their Own), that Warsaw (and the surrounding 200 mile radius) was ground central for those that would lay the foundation for Hollywood storytelling. Perhaps I should have called this blog Screenwriting from Warsaw.

Scott W. Smith


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