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By Gerry Boyle '78
"All those things give you a broad sense of who you are," White said recently from her home in Los Angeles. "It's more difficult for people to convince you that your options are limited. I definitely believe in my interdisciplinary strength."
That self-confidence is at the core of White's (and Camille Landau's) new book, What They Don't Teach You at Film School: 162 Strategies for Making Your Own Movie No Matter What. The book deals with the nuts and bolts of filmmaking but, more important, sends the message that there are ways to make your movie dream-and probably others-come true.
White and Landau, her writing partner, wrote the book after emerging from the American Film Institute and the University of Southern California Film School, respectively. White, a Bunche Scholar at Colby, transferred to UCLA after her first year at Colby but returned to Mayflower Hill "appalled" at the quality of education at the larger university. After graduation from Colby she completed a one-semester filmmaking crash course at New York University. She spent three years at AFI and emerged feeling limited by the label the industry had put on her. "I really felt that I couldn't write my own screenplay because I was a production designer. . . . I really began to believe in the constraints."
Not for long. White, who has made more than 30 short films and has done production design for award-winning Lexus and Lincoln-Mercury commercials, is a model for the passport to filmmaking offered in her book. The book is a practical guide to the real world of filmmaking, with chapters on everything from how to select child actors (make sure their parents will drive) to self-promotion (pose as a producer and call an agent demanding your own script) to when you need a lawyer. But the book also counsels aspiring filmmakers to stop aspiring and just do it. "The obstacles are there," White concedes, but there are ways to create despite them.
With advice like "Anything but writing is procrastination," White leads filmmakers step by step down the path toward the big-or small-screen. The road can be a long one, but she shows the way in small steps that make the process much less daunting.
White herself doesn't seem the type to be daunted by much. With Landau, she's shooting her first feature film in Corsica this summer. Working with her brother, a filmmaker and hip-hop DJ, White is finishing a documentary on the underground world of hip-hop. And What They Don't Teach You at Film School is expected to be followed by What They Don't Teach You About Dot.Coms. All of this is to be expected from someone who took a course on how to find a literary agent. At the conclusion, the agent-instructor said she would look at student book proposals and White was more than ready. "We had 30 different ideas," White said.
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