But going through the "grind" of a DIY feature, and the grind of working a low paying day job to support my ambitions, sometimes to the inconvenience of my wife and myself, and experiencing the successes and failures, the few, hard fought rewards and the more steady pile of inconvenient but non-life altering disappointments, my perspective on film, and art, has changed. I now see it is just another dimension in cultural definition-- something in the conversation-- but not inherently more essential to the human experience than other great human institutions, like politics, faith, sex, technology, athletics, philosophy, and morality. And though art is a lens through which all of these institutions can be analyzed, art can too be analyzed through the lens of these other institutions. Usually I felt more comfortable relating to everyone, and everything, through my love of the arts, especially movies. But after "living the dream" for nearly three years, I don't think that's still the case.
I've learned a lot about filmmaking, the modern film culture, and the modern film market, but I think more importantly, the struggles have forced me to reevaluate my perspectives on the world, and on my ambitions, and on my goals, and led me to a pretty profound conclusion.
I think anyone who wants to be a successful craftsman or learned man, upon reaching that state where they are no longer, at least in title, a "student" of their desired craft, probably goes through a similar paradigm shift in perspective, and feel as I felt-- hunger for interests, hobbies and conversations that have nothing to do with your craft.
I won't say I got burned out making Genesis, but I certainly consumed the culture of movies and filmmaking for a good chunk of time, to a point where I eventually had no clue what was going on in any other aspect of the cultural life. I guess, over time, that's a grind in and of itself, and the need to develop some sort of consistent hobby with NO connection to the silver screen became paramount.
So what did I do? I rediscovered my boyhood love of college and professional sports.
|Roll Tide Roll|
Now granted, there are much more haughty, "intellectual" appearing things I could be doing with my spare time than reading "Bama vs. Arkansas" game previews and cruising to Colin Cowherd or Braves play-by-play, but in re-embracing sports I've come to appreciate the "more-than-meets-the-eye" moments of subtle brilliance that can be found in them, along with, of course, the more touted elements of organized athletics, like set up, payoff, tension, twists, shifts, turnarounds, excitement, gutting misery, and angelical joy.
Since I hail from the Southeast, and especially since I hail from Alabama, it should be no surprise my chief sport of choice is College Football (though I lament the fading popularity of Baseball, probably my favorite game to play and close second to follow), the one sport that, since the 1926 Rose Bowl in which 'Bama smacked down the then dominant Washington Huskies (much due to the play of my distant, by marriage relative football great-- and later Western Matinee great-- Johnny Mack Brown) had put the South on the map as a dominant power. There are few pro teams down here in any sport, as there are few major markets-- but, aside from the Atlanta Braves (the only other sports team I wholeheartedly support), who wears our region's support on it's sleeve, most of the region has few "true" representatives in the professional spectrum (we all love the Saints, but that's "Norleans" team alone). So down here, it's all college, it's all football, and it's all SEC.
|Johnny Mack Brown|
I'm an alumnus of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, and my wife was in Color Guard with the Million Dollar Band, so just like everyone else at school there, I got an up close and personal look every weekend at the joys, pains, nuisances and rewards of SEC football in the craziest football environment in the nation. Granted, I was there during the painfully mundane Shula era (I graduated after Saban's first season), but still, the Bama faithful is pretty unwavering whatever our record, and Game Day was still full of plenty of hub-bub.
So despite all the awful traffic, annoying alumni, jerky LSU fans, ridiculously priced parking, and the school's legendary athletic achievements overshadowing its equally impressive but undersung academic ones, its a cultural phenomenon that can't be ignored nor written off as "rednecks living vicariously through athletes" (just as a comic con can't be written off as "geeks living vicariously through fictional characters").
Well, to avoid a really long, un-movie related tangent, let me just say that, the reason I bring all this up is, my love of College Football and Crimson Tide history and lore has, to a certain degree, peripherally influenced my approach to the scheduling and execution of this tour. For instance, I initially included Arkansas and Kentucky on my "must visit" list, despite their fringe-regional status and distance from my home base, simply because of their inclusion in the SEC; I've participated in a few back and forths with my contact at Tennessee exclusively about the school's recent struggles with its football program; and I've even chuckled to myself when thinking about wearing my "13 Time National Champions" tee shirt to the Florida and Texas at Austin screenings of Spring '11.
Typically, though, the professors and school representatives I deal with about the tour could care less about Football, or at least care less about making small talk jokes about competing football programs with me. And, at the end of the day, sure, it's a non-factor-- even for next weeks screening of A Genesis Found at "the enemy"-- Bama's big instate rivals, Alabama Polytechnic University. You may know them as Auburn.
I've never been to Auburn and am looking forward to finally being on the Plains. A lot of my friends and high school classmates went there, or are still going there, and I'm looking forward to seeing all the trailer parks college kids live at down there. No Auburn joke intended, they really do folks!
Regardless, in keeping with the task of compiling historical highlights of the menagerie of schools/towns we're visiting on the tour, here's a brief write up of Auburn:
First charted in 1856 as a Male College, Auburn changed its name every other week or so until eventually landing on Alabama Polytechnic Institute at the turn of the 20th Century, with the nickname of Auburn originating around the same time (cause the students down there couldn't pronounce "Polytechnic"-- booyah, now that's an Auburn joke!) In 1960, the school officially changed its name to Auburn University.
Though primarily known locally, like it's rival UA, for it's football program, the school also features nationally renowned academic programs in numerous fields of agricultural study, and in veterinarian studies. It's also known for its work with the study of software engineering, and was the first university in the Southeast to offer Bachelor and Master degrees in the field. Other innovations include the least original mascot in Division 1 Athletics (Tigers) and the eloquent refinement of the "War Eagle" battle cry by drunken frat boys into "War DAMN Eagle", which is still heartily endorsed to this day (last Auburn joke, I swear!).
|Aubbie has a bunch of mascot brothers round the NCAA|
The school has some interesting ties to the Civil War and Reconstruction, as the school's entire student body and faculty enlisted in the Confederacy at the advent of the war, effectively closing the school until 1866, with some of campus even serving as a Confederate training ground and hospital.
Auburn (the city) is the largest in eastern Alabama, and was initially inhabited by the Creek tribe. After being settled by former Europeans, the town became quite attractive to families for the establishment of various primary schools and academies, and the town and its econony grew steadily until the Civil War. After the Civil War, the town entered a pretty heavy, nearly-40 year depression (which also saw some ravaging fires of the downtown area) before becoming economically vibrant again at the turn of the 20th-Century. This is similar to the depression that has plagued their football program since the end of the Pat Dye era (couldn't resist, I'm sorry).
Jokes and rivalries aside, I'm very excited about playing at Auburn. It's our first big SEC school on the itinerary, and I got a lot of friends down there. Plus, with the heavy ties to Native American history in the school's culture, and the general interests of its student body, I think Genesis will be received pretty well.
A Genesis Found screens at Auburn this Thursday, October 30 at 6:00pm in the Haley Center room 2213. For more info, check the our official site here.