Lost Time

Well, an entire month has passed since I last posted. Hard to believe. I still battle computer virus issues, but the main one popping up way too frequently is at least gone. Now I have to copy/paste all web addresses, or else my browser spontaneously takes me to random sites. So there is still an evil lurker in my machine, but manageable.

I spent the last week putting together an application for the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry’s Month at the Museum program. Oh, I haven’t mentioned that yet, have I? Let me back up.

When I went to Chicago for the Pitchfork Music Festival, taking a Greyhound Bus to and fro (yes, stories abound), I saw advertisements for MSI wanting someone to come live, sleep, eat and breathe science (and industry) for an entire month. The museum was looking for a roommate, was how they put it. I looked up the website while still in Chicago, and on my last day there, as I had fortunately made sure I had an extra day planned just for sight-seeing the Frank Lloyd Wright houses in the Oak Park neighborhood I was staying in, I went to go scout out this museum, to see if that was something I could see myself doing.

My goodness! I didn’t have enough time to see it all, do it all, so I simply must win this contest to do this 14 acre museum site justice. See how that goes? I must win.

Ever since I got back and started mentioning it to people, they totally can see me doing it, think I would be awesome in the position, and that my particular background easily makes me a shoo-in. Or is that shoe-in? The fact that it entails sleeping in unconventional spaces, bring it on! I used to sleep in the closet of my first apartment, because the water heater was in there, and I couldn’t afford to crank the heat in my electric baseboard heated apartment on the first floor of concrete slab construction during the rainy winters of Portland. Sleeping in the warm closet made sense to me, kept warm with the doors closed, and gave me the whole rest of the bedroom to do yoga and other things in, since I didn’t own any actual bedroom furniture.

Other people think that odd, and could never not sleep in beds. Me and my roadtrips, sleeping in the car or on the ground, not a problem. As long as I am warm, I can sleep. Less people to apply, I think.

Being alone in such a large building frightens other people. I remember having that conversation with more than one co-worker, me mentioning I would come in late hours to get actual work done, when the noise of open cubicles was minimal, and they would look at me surprised. “Aren’t you afraid, being here all by yourself?” Not me. Besides, there was always a night time security guard on duty for that building, to say nothing of the cleaning crew, so I was never truly alone. Same would apply at the Museum of Science and Industry. Again, less people applying, better odds for me!

Same for the not having set work obligations that would interfere, not having familial responsibilities that would make it difficult to come if selected, etc. Even in this economy, this eliminates a large number of people not applying, for sure! Even Hamlin passing just a little while ago and me not getting a new pet works to my advantage (though I actually would probably have a friend living here while I was gone, so it wouldn’t even be an issue, but it doesn’t even need to be a thought now.) Again, less applicants, better chances of winning.

So for the last week, I have been working diligently to put the application package together, with the help of others. Last Wednesday consisted of shooting the one minute video. I had been thinking about it for weeks, what to talk about, where to shoot it, what to emphasize. And the person who took the footage, has recently gotten into putting together videos, from shoot to final edit, so it was just more experience for him. And he had the right camera and software equipment to get the job done. And a day or two free, as he is currently unemployed.

When we got down to it, I only had one paragraph memorized of what to say. That took five takes. We had to swap and drop off cars to do the rest, and it was just a fun, spontaneous exercise in collaboration. We had three other locations to get to, and our sunburns progressed throughout the day. As we were driving to location two, Chris asked me if I thought it was possible to make a film entirely making it up (as in the writer, me) as we drove from location to location. I looked up from the script of points I wanted to cover, working out the wording to my satisfaction, and said enthusiastically “Sure!” It was the locations that were inspiring me to talk about different things, so it was easy to come up with material once I knew where we were headed.

Four hours later, we were done. The sun was on its way down. We were exhausted and elated.

The next day, I was at his place so we could do the editing. We started off with about six and a half minutes of material, when we edited in the different parts of the takes we had taken that kept the continuity of my script. Suddenly I was script supervisor, trying to get the parts in the right order. Thank goodness we shot it in sequence, and I had a script to refer to, but still it was making my brain hurt to keep it all straight. We stopped for lunch. After lunch, with our brains functioning on something more than caffeine, we got it done easily. After four hours of editing, we had a finished product. Pretty much everything I had labored on as a written script, went out the window. Or onto the editing floor. But not literally, since it was all digital. If I had known that I didn’t need to speak so much to get one minute’s worth of video, we could have done it easily at one location in one shoot. Oh well. I didn’t know. I was afraid I wouldn’t have enough material. I talk fast when I get excited, so I just didn’t know what was needed.

I showed the video to a few people that weekend, and people were excited for me, for my applying for this exciting opportunity. On Sunday morning, I had my headshot shoot. Again, a friend to help out. Well, the boyfriend of a friend. Over 200 shots later, we figured we had something usable. Breakfast was involved. Burning onto a CD was involved, so I could go through the photos at my leisure.

Monday morning, while still lying on my bed in my PJs, I looked through all those photos. Since all were taken to be viewed in portrait, it meant lying on my side was the perfect viewing position. That afternoon I spent working on the answers to the application. And then I drove to Costco to select, edit and enlarge the chosen photos to be my 5×7 headshots. The machines were being persnickety, so I had to reload my back up image of a headshot, off a flash drive with over 3,000 photos on it, so it took time. Come back in an hour, I was told. So I had to eat lunch, and browse the wares.

Tuesday, I was typing the application answers into the online printable pdf, and working on the 500 word essay as to why they should pick me. And then off to FedEx to have the package get there in time. As it is now after 3:30 in Chicago, the package should have been delivered by now. And if not, there is still time as the museum has not yet closed.

Altogether, actual quantifiable hours put into this project? 4 hours of shooting, 4 hours of editing, 3 1/2 of headshots, 1 hour of viewing, 1 1/2 hours of writing answers to the application, 2 1/2 hours at Costco, 3 1/2 hours of final essay and application writing, 10 minutes in FedEx. Phew! That comes to 20 hours and 10 minutes of quantifiable time. That doesn’t include the brainstorming and thinking that went into it that I wasn’t tracking, before and during. I was happy to find that the parts of the script that had been edited out, for the most part I got to work back into the 500 word essay and the application. Recycled, re-used. Nor am I counting the driving to meet up with people, or going to Costco, FedEx and the coffee shops I utilized for writing. Nope, none of that, but at least a good solid 20 hours to get the application done this week.

So, that’s what I’ve been up to this week.  That was some good solid work done this week. Let’s hope it gets the desired result!

And, trust me, I would post the video, but officially everything I submitted is now the exclusive property of the museum to do what they see fit. Perhaps I could post some out takes, like when the man walked into frame during my one memorized paragraph of the first location, despite Chris having given him the stop signal. I only had a few more words to speak and I would have been done, but instead we watched him walk through, and I started laughing, walking towards the camera.

Did I mention I had a lot of fun doing this? I’ve never shot or been around shooting of anything before, despite having worked for eight years for a film company. Fun! I can see why amateurs like doing it, think they have something because the passion comes through, even if the technical issues aren’t flat.

And dang, if we had had this experience before March, Chris and I could have shot a film while on our road trip of California, making it up as we went along. That would have been fun, and perhaps just deserves another road trip to test it out…..

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