Monday, May 15, 2006

Getting "Suspicious"

It's only fair for me to do what I've asked you to do as well, right?

My name is Jeff Middents, and I'll be your tour guide through what I'm calling "A Short Course About Short Films" this summer. I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of Literature at AU, having been here since 2001. My specialty interest is in narratives of the 20th Century, particularly Latin American cinema and I'm writing a book (hopefully to be finished this summer) on film criticism and Peruvian cinema from the 1960s to the present. Believe it or not, this course is inspired by some of the research I have done on that project and may inspire a future larger project as well -- we'll see. In terms of my personal life, all you need to know is that I'm married and have a 14-month-old son who has just started to walk... so, basically, my life is now over, heh heh.

My research is not how I originally came to short film, however. My biggest experience with shorts came from working for the Telluride Film Festival where I encountered an amazing short film called "Suspicious," written and directed by David Koepp, most famous for writing Spielberg flicks like Jurassic Park. He is more known as a screenwriter, though he has directed a couple of interesting features such as The Trigger Effect (1996), Stir of Echoes (1999) and Secret Window (2002). My favorite, however, is still this little film featuring comedian Janeane Garofalo as a girl in a car. Among other things, this was the first time I had ever seen Garofalo in a role where she wasn't funny. The film has since shown on the Sci-Fi channel, but I have been unable to find a copy of it again, alas. Still, the film made quite an impression -- and showed me the potential power of shorts.


Hi folks and welcome to the blogosphere. Classes are yet to begin and yet I'd like you to start to get comfortable with using blogs a little before we get into the nitty-gritty of the very quick summer semester. This is important for two reasons:
  1. On a small level, you will be turning in a number of writing assignments on the blog rather than in a "paper" format. Your blog entries will be quicker and easier, although you will be submitting things to the blog on a weekly basis.
  2. On a much larger level, your contributions here will contribute to what is really a distinct lack of information on short films that is available. As we will discuss when we get into class, there is very little written about short films out there; therefore, this is an opportunity for you to get some information out there.
For now, however, start getting some basics down. Blogger is a fairly user-friendly way to publish on the web, even if you have not blogged before. Before the semester begins, try the following:
  • Sign into Blogger and establish a basic profile for yourself. You can make this as elaborate as you want.
  • If you have never used Blogger before, read up in the Getting Started section and learn a little about how to use this thing. In particular, see if you can figure out how to use html to provide links (using "things like this ") for your posts. You're going to want to do that at some point to provide information for everyone else in the class.
  • Introduce yourself to me and the rest of the class (and, heck, the rest of the blogosphere -- who knows who will be reading this?). Consider stating why you're interested in taking this course, and what sort of background you have with film in general. Use this as an opportunity to try some of the skills you may have picked up in learning some of this.
  • Comment on other people's introductions. (You'll be doing this throughout this short semester, too, so get used to it!)
If you have any problems with any of this, please let me know. Email me with any concerns, questions or comments. (And no, I don't have the syllabus ready yet, so don't ask for that.)