Marginalia, Graduate Blog

Hot in the City

Bubba Murray

Last week, I had the chance to meet up with some of my fellow ambassadors at Blackie’s. It was a nice time. There were free drinks and loads of fried food. What more could you ask? Seeing the familiar faces brought me back to why I’m at Columbia. I’m here to learn how to support myself with my art. I’m here to make movies.

While you’re procrastinating from doing actual work on another sweltering Chicago summer day, I suggest you find some air conditioning, a garden hose, or an icy stare from an ex-girl/boyfriend and chill out…literally. Seriously, could it get much hotter? Back in my undergrad days, I used to hang out at the grocery store and stick my head in the ice cream freezer. Today I go Costco…better samples.

Anyway, I digress. While I’ve been melting away, I’ve been working. Most of my free hours are spent at the nine-to-fiver. Why am I telling you this? Well it’s because that’s usually the life of a filmmaker, especially an MFA. I’m not saying I wouldn’t take a crap job working as a PA and scraping my way up. I’d love it. However, not everybody wants to hire a person with life experience. It’s a frustrating reality. Sometimes the jobs go people who don’t know better and they don’t know better because they have no life experience. But once you get that life experience, experience that gives you a distinct perspective and stories to tell, you’re told it’s too late. This is a long way of saying you have to make your own opportunities and find inspiration where you can.

So I’ve been working. Aside from time spent in the office, I’ve been trying to find inspiration for the next projects. Sometimes you have to jump start inspiration. I’ve been doing personal screening. Last time I talked about “Old Boy.” The movies I’ve watched since then really speak to me tonally. They were Hustle and Flow, Children of Men, and Melancholia.

Of the movies I watched, one of the most helpful was Melancholia. I liked the way they shot the wedding party scene, because it was very similar to how I shot a greeting between two characters in my film Casual Encounters. I got mixed comments, because I didn’t hold close ups very long on my characters and cut while the frame was moving. I wanted to raise the anxiety of the characters and emphasize that awkward moment when people size each other up.

In the Melancholia party scene, all the guests seem anxious. This was accomplished as the camera wove its way through the crowd and made every conversation seem off balance. The look was very similar to my shot. Because I feel I’m developing my talent, I’m always interested in ways to apply other styles to enhance my progress in directing… so I know I’m on the right track.

Now I feel like I’m zeroing in on a project. I see what I do well and have a few more weeks to put my lessons into action.

Hot in the City

…you have to make your own opportunities and find inspiration where you can

Film & Video - Cinema Directing MFA Bubba Murray, james.murray2@loop.colum.edu
600 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60605

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