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Showing posts from 2016

Talking to Myself in the Mirror

I think it's a pretty safe bet that a lot of aspiring actors/writers/directors/filmy people practice their future Oscar speech in the mirror as kids. I did. Who am I kidding? I still do. It comes with the territory. My mirror talks go, ahem, went (who am I kidding? go) further.

Sometimes, I do my makeup while talking to Barbara Walters. Other days, brushing my hair turns into a podcast interview. Most of the time, though, I rehearse what I'm going to say to my heroes. These hypothetical moments are incredibly important, and I can't afford to say anything stupid, so car rides, showers, and mornings getting ready are devoted to preparation.

This probably makes me sound crazy. The word "narcissist" may also come to mind. I think one of my heroes would have appreciated both the crazy and the narcissism in this bit of oversharing, though, but we lost her this morning.

One of my first posts on this blog was a tribute to Carrie Fisher. I read it over this afternoon after…

Am I Too Old for This?

When I turned 22 in August, I made the joke that I was scared to go into a Forever 21 for fear of setting off the age limit alarms. It was a bad joke. Still is.

In truth, there are a lot of things I should have outgrown: Disney movies, old cartoons, comic books, procrastination. That's not the end of the list, but those were the only things I could think of off the top of my head. One of the things I never thought would be on the list, though, was teen movies.

As I sat in the theater watching The Edge of Seventeen (fantastic movie, by the way), I realized I was five years older than the protagonist. Granted, that's not a huge age difference, but it was enough to make me realize I'm in a different place in my life than the characters in the movie for the first time in a while.

Teen movies are and have always been one of my very favorite things. I grew up wanting to be like the older characters in teen movies, then relating to the characters when I aged into their stories, a…

Change is a Good Thing

I'm a binge watcher. A product of my time. There are still, however, shows I will watch as they air. Sure, most of them are award shows, but that still counts, right?

American Horror Story falls into the very tiny category of non-awards shows I'll tune into live every week. After hearing a ton of hype, I watched the first couple seasons on Netflix, then started tuning in every Wednesday starting in season three. Even if I hadn't watched the first couple of seasons, I wouldn't have missed anything. Each season is a brand new story, a chance for the showrunners and a troupe of actors to explore something new.

After the third season, though, I felt like something was missing. The cast of characters kept getting bigger, more subplots kept developing, and, to me, the series began to feel scattered and unpolished. In short, it lost its edge. Despite loving the show and the amazing cast, I couldn't finish last season.

I went into this year thinking I was going to skip it a…

Remaking Old Ghosts

I want to talk about what I just saw.

There's been a lot of controversy surrounding Paul Feig's remake of the 1984 film Ghostbusters. Remakes are tricky in general. People, often guided by their nostalgia, worry that a new version of their favorite story just won't live up.

This applies here to an extreme. From the time this movie was announced, people were outraged, saying that a remake of Ghostbusters would ruin their childhood.

Their outrage wasn't just because the movie was being remade, but that Feig was putting four women in the lead roles. Feig has always been a champion of women in his work, from Freaks and Geeks to Bridesmaids and now Ghostbusters. Looking at the original story, there's no reason women can't be Ghostbusters. No. Reason. Well, other than the fact that it could damage fragile male egos everywhere.

Thank goodness that wasn't taken account, because the movie was fantastic. Really, really fantastic. The story and characters were fully d…

You're my Wonderwall: An Ode to Governor's School

I, Mary Abigail Keith, hate goodbyes.

I hate them, hate them, hate them. To me, goodbyes represent uncertainty. Will I ever see this person again? Will I hear from this person? Will I have an experience as good as this...ever? Not knowing makes me feel helpless, and then I start doing the crying and the existential dread and the make-up running down my face. It's really attractive.

The last two days have been full of goodbyes. I just finished working as a film counselor for Tennessee's Governor's School for the Arts, helping exceptional high schoolers learn about film. What doesn't seem fair about my experience, though, is that I feel like each one of the 27 kids taught me more individually than I taught them combined. Okay, that's so cheesy I just threw up in my mouth a little bit, but it's the truth.

Saying goodbye to these kids, as well as those I got to know in other areas of the program and my incredible fellow counselors, was, of course, heartbreaking. I …

From Princess to Prizefighter

Here's a secret: I'm not original. I was like every other little girl in the 1990s, idolizing Disney princesses, wanting to join their ranks. Seeing as my favorite was Pocahontas, what I really wanted to do was talk to animals and jump off waterfalls, but, seeing as I was four years old and not animated, that never really happened.

It's completely normal for kids to watch movies and want to embody their favorite characters, whether they be princesses, super heroes, secret agents, etc. If an adult walks up to a microphone, though, and says they want to be Superman, eyebrows will probably raise (unless, of course, that adult is Robert Downey Jr. Sadly, though, we can't all be RDJ).

That's why, after watching Raging Bull for the first time, the strange desire I had to be a boxer made me feel, for lack of a better term, goofy. I was 19 years old at the time and well past the stage of being able to play on the playground without looks of judgment from passersby. So why …

7 to 7 and Odd Jobs

Words honestly can't describe how lucky this last month has made me feel.

Typically, May is a month I dread, and between the finals I had to take and the unprecedentedly insane schedule I've had to juggle, this month was no exception. None of that makes me feel particularly lucky, though it does make me fall asleep faster at night. With the schedule and the finals, though, came an opportunity I'll never forget.

For the past few weeks, I've been working for the Hallmark Channel on their morning talk show, Home & Family, as they've been shooting a week of shows at Dollywood. I was an assistant cue card writer, which basically means I helped prepare cue cards for the hosts and correspondents to read from during the taping of the show. There are a couple of great things about this:

1. I love Dollywood. Like, really love it.

2. I gained professional experience on a national show.

3. I got paid for the first time in my life (for film work, anyway).

4. Did I mention I…

Special Appearance by...

"Honey, look at this National Enquirer! Do you see how bad Hillary looks? Just so ugly!"

This was an actual comment I heard a mother say to her teenage daughter as she came through my checkout line at the grocery store where I work.

Now, I have a lot of strange, odd, and even appalling things happen to me at my "day job". Coupons have been thrown, threats have been made, jobs have been offered from backs of cars. You name it, it's happened to me. But this took the cake.

This is just one in a group of many disparaging comments I've heard in the last few months about a woman's appearance. It's nothing new, sure, but I've had it.

Regardless of who you're going to vote for in this year's election (and you should vote), a person's appearance does not affect their ability to lead and should not affect how you vote. These comments go way beyond that, however. I strongly believe and have plenty of evidence to prove that the former Secretary …

Too Many Movies

“I can never read all the books I want; I can never be all the people I want and live all the lives I want. I can never train myself in all the skills I want. And why do I want? I want to live and feel all the shades, tones and variations of mental and physical experience possible in my life. And I am horribly limited.”― Sylvia PlathThe Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath

I read this quote for the first time about a year ago, and I have never related to anything more in my life.

I'm like most people: I love books, TV, travel, music and, more than anything, movies. I'm interested in current events, science, nature, politics, and the lives of fascinating people. These interests create a huge problem.

The world is HUGE, and there are too many books (129,864,880+), too many TV shows (over 400 scripted shows in 2015 alone), too many albums to listen to (here's a list of just the ones released in 2015) and, most dreadful of all, too many movies (500k+) for me to consume in my…

In Defense of the Trigger Warning

As I sat down in one of my film classes today, my professor did something that surprised me. Before screening Gus Van Sant's Elephant, a film inspired by the 1999 shooting at Columbine, she gave a warning, offering anyone who may be negatively affected by the film because of past trauma the opportunity to watch an alternative film for credit. She continued to warn the class about an upcoming film we would be screening later, mentioning the themes of sexual assault and offering another alternative film to screen.

I don't remember when I first started seeing "trigger warning" on the Internet. The tag, most commonly used on sites like Tumblr to warn people of content that contained explicit references to things like drugs, eating disorders, suicide, abuse, and other elements that people who have gone through trauma may find upsetting.

Though I never had to stay away from anything with a trigger warning, I definitely understand the value of the phrase. I even put a warni…

On Making a Movie (in 54 hours)

I have this theory that not a single person on this Earth would say no to the question, "do you want to help make a movie?". I've never met a person who doesn't like movies, and what fan wouldn't want to be a part of something they love?

Here's the deal, though: movies are work. Anybody who thinks making a movie is just pointing a camera and playing pretend is so, so wrong. How do I know this? I've done it.

This weekend, a friend and I participated in Knoxville's 54 Hour Film Festival, a competition of 5-7 minute films that are made over a weekend. If that time crunch didn't seem daunting enough, we are also given a genre, line, action, prop, and, after 24 hours, curveball element to include in the film.

It may sound easy, and, to be honest, I get why it might, but struggling to get schedules together, find locations, write a story, and shoot and edit a piece (and remember to sleep and eat) was definitely a challenge. An awesome challenge.

In talk…

Cameron Crowe Ruined My Life

Believe me when I say that it pained me to type out the title to this post.

Cameron Crowe is one of my very favorite filmmakers. To me, a guy who can write teenagers who are real people, really capture the full spectrum of human emotion, and incorporate a great soundtrack into his work is a real genius.

Though it initially made me feel warm, fuzzy, and hopeful, a recent late night viewing of 2005's Elizabethtown ended up making me a little nervous. I realized that Crowe was just like everybody else.

Now, this probably doesn't make sense to those of you who admire his work. As a writer and filmmaker, Crowe definitely has a unique voice and vision that helps his work connect with all kinds of audiences. That's precisely the problem.

Last week I wrote a post about how movies are only a reflection of life and not actually true to life itself. In the post, I mentioned that filmmakers are just one person with one perspective, and that is absolutely true of Crowe. In Crowe's …

I Didn't Know Movies Weren't Real Until Just Now

Okay, okay, before you start questioning my sanity, let me start by saying that the title of this post is absolutely a hyperbole. I'm pretty sure I haven't actually believed that a movie I saw was real since I was about six...or maybe sixteen...regardless, it's been a while.

If there's one thing I've learned in my last couple of years studying film, it's that movies, no matter how fantastical or realistic, are a reflection. They attempt to depict real situations, characters, and emotions, but at the end of the day, they are about as real as the face you see in a mirror. A reflection can look just like you, but, at the end of the day, it disappears as soon as you walk away.

So, with this in mind, why have I (and so many others like me) used movies as a guide for who I want to be, what decisions I should make, what my goals should be, and, ultimately, what my life should look like? The truth is, I believed in the illusion.

I'm always going to believe in movie…

Film Post-International Women's Day

If you weren't on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, or any other social media, you may have missed that Tuesday was International Women's Day. There were protests, there were speeches, there were important people saying important things, but, most important of all, there were Internet lists.

What would the world do without Internet lists?  How would we know what terrifying documentaries to watch or what this person learned from her pet snail? Okay, so those really condescending and sarcastic last few sentences do not reflect my real attitude toward Internet lists. I actually love them (well, most of them). I actually shared one on Twitter on International Women's Day about films directed by female filmmakers.

I wish I hadn't.

Now, let me be clear. It's not that I don't want to celebrate female filmmakers. I absolutely do. I just wish there weren't so few of them. The existence of the list I tweeted and so many others I saw on Tuesday proves that women in film are …