I had a film cinematography teacher who was a cross between Jeff Goldblum and a mid-80’s era Lou Reed. One would think that this sounds incredible. How lucky was I to encounter such a magical creature?
Okay, but imagine a person made up of all of their absolute worst-known qualities. The self-indulgence, the myopic vision of what makes things good and bad, the shunning of people who just ‘don’t get it.’ Okay, this is just Lou Reed in personality with the looks of JG. One third of the time in class was devoted to his opinion on tragically misguided Hollywood blockbusters that would turn into conspiracy theories; one third spent on wistful tales of his time as a filmmaker, including sexual exploits done with a wink because it was just so CUTE AND NAUGHTY, RIGHT!? What a mischievous scamp!!
The final third of the time, he’d walk down in front of the podium, take the two steps down to the next level where a small table and chair was, slip his shoes off, sit “Indian” style with his crotch front-and-center and pick out anyone he thought had stopped paying attention to grill them on obscure, philosophical questions about cinematography or the dreadful assigned reading for the week.
His name is lost to me…Perhaps I blocked it out because he was also super sleazy and bummed cigarettes off of the students (rotating who it was) when we smoked in the stairwell (since it was too cold to go outside and we were up so high in the building), sneering at the brand if it was anything other than American Spirits. If they were his preferred brand, he’d crouch down to sit down on a step, as he fell into silence, with his eyes closed in feigned orgasmic glee. Then, he’d actually moan.
I should remember him since he taught me how to navigate infuriating and indulgent personalities, roadblocks to any kind of success in a career, and the ability to find ways to turn those challenges–delivered via disdain, of course–into success. Smashing the demands from him when he thought I wasn’t paying attention, by answering his questions in an equally confrontational manner, delivering stellar project work on difficult-to-watch obscure movies and acing the course.
And if I gave him the benefit of the doubt? That maybe it was all a lesson swaddled around a seemingly impossible and somewhat arbitrary course. A lesson that you would encounter people even worse in the film industry, so develop a thicker hide, honey.
But, did he have to be so gross about it?