This is an ever-evolving story of a girl writer and her two greatest loves, the movies and travel. As she hikes the trenches of Hollywood, you're brought along for the ride.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Picture Perfect

As anyone who reads this blog knows: I believe in learning new things ~ things that are both fascinating and frightening at the same time. Film projection is one of those things.

TCM and AMC were my film "discovery" channels. Like a big dork, I used to watch documentaries about film preservation and the digitally remastering process for old films. It was a painstaking process, sometimes taking years-- as was the case with The Wizard Of Oz, but it was fascinating that it could be done and there were people willing to do it. Seventy years later, the technicolor in The Wizard Of Oz is now as rich and layered as it was upon its first viewing-- enough that I can actually see the texture of the burlap on the scarecrow's face!

In concept, I'd love to have a hand in film preservation-- but in reality, I'd go bat-crazy if I just sat in a little room, digitally removing dust for hours. Instead, I turned to the "fascinating and frightening" prospect of film projection. Since the rest of the industry has been slow, I'm now working part-time as a projectionist. After some spits and starts (and lots and lots of threading practice,) my projectionist status became official.

Doing projection for a larger movie house takes patience, attention to detail, time management, and a lot of hustling from projector to projector. When you're sitting in the movie theatre, do you ever think about the little person behind the theatre? No, it's not the Wizard Of Oz, it's me: the projectionist. Your movie doesn't just magically show up on the screen-- I have to put it up there.

Where I work, we have 16 screens which I split up with another working projectionist. During a typical shift, I thread up and start anywhere from 24 to 32 films. The fascinating part is that from this LONG stream of individual photographs, the projector and I can make your movie happen like magic. The frightening part is that a lot can go wrong very easily: If I don't thread the film with the soundtrack facing a certain way, your movie won't have audio. It could also jump off its sprockets, be out of frame, out of focus, get scratched, have garbled or muffled sound, or somehow end up spilled onto the floor like spaghetti. The movie could get also get tangled up at the source (aka a "brain wrap,") at which point an alarm goes off {hopefully}, all hell breaks lose... and your movie stops dead in its tracks.

And then, for a few moments I'm no longer fascinated, I'm just plain frightened, but at the end of the day, the show will go on. And as you settle into your chair with a popcorn tub on your lap, magic will appear to happen.

Copyright 2009 by KLiedle
Photo credits: flickr/the42ndfl00r, flickr/maraid, flickr/vemsteroo

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Dreaming and Awakening

Too many times, my day off evaporates like a droplet of oil on a hot griddle. I know I should've planned something, but before I know it, time's up. Likewise, time was almost up for other things, too...

It was closing this week... last chance to get my butt into gear to see The Academy's landmark Fellini exhibit, Fellini: Book Of Dreams. A showcase of Federico Fellini's massive dream notebooks, this is the exhibit's first appearance in the United States. With the cooperation of the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, the Fondazione Federico Fellini and the Fondazione Cinema per Roma, it is available for viewing and astonishingly enough-- free. Two days before the close of the exhibit, I finally made it!

Well worth the wait (and the drive) the Fellini exhibit was more expansive than I'd imagined. Fellini kept records-- sketchbooks, really-- of his dreams for the better part of thirty years (1960-1990.) He not only wrote out the details as he remembered them, but he illustrated his dreams whenever possible. His illustrations are vivid, fantastical, colorful, imaginative, and often circus-like. Many of Fellini's illustrated dreams seem familiar-- as a number of the images and/or themes later appeared in some of his films.

Fellini's actual "dream notebooks" are housed in a glass display, meaning the general public (for obvious reasons) cannot flip through them. Alternatively though, there is a computer touch screen that allows you to scroll through as many as 250 pages of Fellini dreams. The sheer volume is daunting, but extraordinarily intoxicating.

After viewing many of the articles on display, I scrolled through a handful of the digital notebook pages as well. Fellini's dreams ran the gamut from men on stilts to elephants, big-busted women, and firebursts of exploding blimps. I laughed aloud after reading Fellini's expressions of an erotic and wildly humorous, imagined romp with Sophia Loren. Men will be men... On the other side of the spectrum, I snickered at an illustration of a rather mundane dream: a horribly plugged toilet. There stands Fellini in front of the constipated throne-- overflowing with toilet paper and feces and "even a little Fiat!," as Fellini proclaims. Indeed, a little car is zooming its way out.

For Fellini, this expansive Book Of Dreams brought about a better understanding of his own subconscious as well as ideas for his films. For us today, it's also an incredible and inspiring look into the intimate workings of a vastly creative mind.

GO >> Fellini's Book Of Dreams-- through April 19, 2009 in the Academy's Grand Lobby Gallery: 8949 Wilshire Blvd, Beverly Hills CA 90211

*Also through April 19 in the Academy's 4th floor Gallery:
GO >> Douglas Fairbanks: The First King Of Hollywood exhibit displays rare costumes, props, articles, and correspondence from the actor's career-- including his commemorative Oscar and a telegram from Charlie Chaplin.

Copyright 2009 by KLiedle

Monday, April 6, 2009

A Downward Slope Can Be An Upward Battle

"Uh, No."

That was my answer-- out of fear, out of 'thinking' that it just wouldn't be my thing. Snow, flat surface, skates... OK, I can do that. Snow, being strapped to what appears to be a skateboard while staring down a mountain? Yeah, I don't think so... BUT what if? What if it's really as fun as my brother says it is? I don't even have a huge fear, just a little dinky fear-- enough to make my brain want to say no.

In other words, I didn't really have an excuse so I decided to transcend my natural fears and give snowboarding a shot. It's hard to believe that just over a week ago, I was driving with my brother and a friend to Breckenridge, CO to hit the slopes. It was their 19th time of the season and my 1st time of all time... I guess I could say.

I was feeling just a bit anxious about the whole experience when I was being fitted for my snowboard. "It's harder to back out now," I thought. "After all, I've rented the equipment. "

On the ride up to Breckenridge, I started having second thoughts... "what if I break my leg or I hit my head or God know what else?" Before I knew it, we were on the shuttle, I'd gotten a lift ticket, and we were headed up the neverending gondola to the sky. "There's no going back now...," I thought as I looked at how far we'd ascended into the sky and how much that damn lift ticket cost.

When it was all said and done, I was astounded by how much fun, yes fun, I had on the slopes my first day out. I thought it would be so painful, so frustrating, and so awkward that fun would never be a part of it until I actually knew what I was doing. I didn't break my leg, or an arm, or my head... I wasn't especially sore afterward ( a little bit, yes, but not alot.)

Yes, I lost count of how many times I fell or ate shit in the snow, but each and every time, I got up again. In the beginning, it was mostly due to Barry, my snowboard instructor, making me try again... even though I wanted to quit. I didn't think there was any hope for me (or the nonexistent snowboarder inside of me.) By the end, I kept getting up because I knew I could conquer that damn mountain-- OK, I'll be real: majestic slope-- and I realized that I was exhilarated because I'd tried (and succeeded) in something I was fearful about.

My advice to first-timers: Take a 1/2 day lesson. It's worth it, even though you'll see 6 year olds snowboarding better than you and old people skiing faster than you can walk with your ski boots on. I'm convinced that taking the lessons helped me get the basics down in time to actually enjoy myself.

Thanks, Barry for being my snowboard muse last week and not laughing in my face, even though I'm sure you were tempted quite a few times during that day, especially every time I ate shit coming off the ski lift which was oh, every time! And thanks to my brother, for taking me up to the mountain and making me find my way down and giving me a unique experience to take back home. Snowboarding's something I wouldn't have attempted without a little prodding, but now, well, I just may go again someday!

P.S. There's a Beaujo's pizza in Idaho Springs, CO. So, if you need any other incentive to get down the mountain, deep dish pizza with thick, bready crust is a good one! And after skiing/snowboarding all day, you can afford to down a lot of it!

Copyright 2009 by KLiedle
Photo credit: "Doll Snowboarder" rockymountainroz/flickr
"Breckenridge" kavy2/flickr, "No Snowboarding" maureen/flickr