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A Film Festival Story
By Michael Greenspan

I graduated from the American Film Institute with a Masters in directing in 2002. My thesis film, The Legend of Razorback, turned out to be a surprising success. It won over fifteen different awards at film festivals across the country, aired on national television and most important, got me representation in Hollywood. The one thing it didn’t do, however, was get me a job directing. I took a lot of meetings, met studio executives and had lunch with agents and lawyers; but still no job. I wrote a pilot, shot a pilot, developed scripts, wrote scripts, pitched reality shows, was close to shooting the pilot on one of them and on several occasions debated giving it all up and moving someplace that didn’t have a freeway.   

I remember a chilly November night in NoHo in 2003, in a cozy theater on Lankershim Boulevard, Razorback winning the first award ever handed out by Robin Saban and the International Student Film Festival Hollywood. After the ceremony, a stranger in the audience asked if I’d like to teach filmmaking. I said I’d think about it. After all, I do have a Masters degree. Five years later, I’ve taught over four hundred elementary school kids film theory, production, acting, music video production, clay animation, and stop-motion animation. But most of all what I really think I taught them was to have passion, to believe in what you’re doing and to get excited about what you love. The strange thing is that without them even knowing it, they taught me the same thing.

Today, I have several feature projects in development with producers and agencies and every day I get a little closer to making my first movie. Maybe one day one of those kids will look up at the screen and with the credits rolling he’ll lean over to his friend, point at my name as it zips by and say, “Hey, that guy taught me filmmaking.”  Stranger things have happened.




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