the film snob

A cyberspace journal about my experiences as an NYU film school grad student, reviews of current and classic films, film and TV news, and the rants and raves of an admitted (and unapologetic) film snob.

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Esse Quam Videri -- To be, rather than to appear

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Of No Earthly Good

It may be too early for a post like this, but I have to admit to a certain amount of dissatisfaction with my classes. Oh, not all of them to be sure. My Screenwriting course is as fantastic, illuminating and challenging as I hoped it would be. But the other two courses--the required cores of Film Form & Film Sense and Film History & Historicity are, well, boring.

One of my professors, a learned, published and respected man in the field, reads his lectures off notes, rarely looking up, as if he were reciting columns from the phone book. My other professor is much more engaging and buoyant, however, her class also suffers from a certain amount of, shall we say, negative energy. I'm getting more from my reading than from the lectures.

I wonder if I am the only one who feels this way. Others seem to engage in our discussions enthusiastically, while I struggle to keep my mind engaged. I'm somewhere between the teacher's pet and the guy a few seats down surfing the internet or playing solitaire. It's not that I can't keep up or follow along. I know it is important information and I know this, like any pursuit, has its fair share of data one simply needs to plod through, get the check in the old mental block and move on to warmer climes. And yet, I pray that's all it is.

While it was never a driving force to begin with, I think I can safely say that life as a full-time academic is not for me. While there are those who's heads are meant to be in the clouds, there are others who prefer to find their feet on solid ground. I fall somewhere in between I guess. Neither too theoretical to be of any good to anyone, or too practical as to be little more than a muscular gorilla.

As with any academic venture, Cinema Studies has its stuffy, pompous, self-important side. It's just that I'm seeing a lot more of that lately than I am the more grounded, practical side. I firmly believe that there is a point at which we can become too smart, too smug, too sophisticated for our own good. There is a line of snobery and when we cross it, the only people who will give a damn about what we're saying is each other. And that is a sad indictment.


Anonymous nate said...

Very interesting post, sir.

How many students are in these classes? How big are the classrooms? Does street noise find its way in? Descriptions of ambience, please.

5:56 AM  
Blogger Brandon Fibbs said...

There are a lot of people in the cores. In fact, they feel much more like an undergraduate course in terms of size. Both probebly have over 50 people, while my screenwriting course has only 11.

No, no street noise. We're in the middle of the building on the 6th floor. These classrooms are insulated since films are shown in them every class--mini theaters is probebly a better description. They are not new however, and new facilities are being built as we speak. We should move into them next year.

6:35 AM  
Blogger Robin said...

Brandon, you're probably seeing what students see at lots of "top" places, Harvard Law, UCLA Med, etc. The profs know they're the best, and it means they don't have to try so hard (the guy reading from notes.)

But I think you nailed it when you said it's important to continue to be able to see it. Otherwise, you cross that line, and become one of them.

It's kind of like trying to remember to see the world through the eyes of a child...still seeing the wonder, the beauty, the amazing freshness. But, you still have to deal with the occasional dirty diaper, in spite of how wonderful it is.

Maybe this will weed out some folks who thought it would all be like sitting in Scorsese's brain for 2 years...;-)

You'll get through it. Check off the box; memorize the rote stuff. And remember to be on the outside.

10:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Welcome to academia, Brandon. ; )

I really like what Robin said. I think the goal is to keep staying grounded--and I say this as someone who adores theory, so I don't see this as about theory vs. pragmatics, but as about staying grounded in what is actually important.

Ego games: a bunch of nonsense; knowing the different major positions and history of things: important; knowing who you are and whose you are: essential...etc. : )

DB :)

7:15 PM  

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