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How to Talk to Film School Kids: Oscar Edition

Talking to film kids can be tricky. They’ve usually seen all the latest films and have a freakish encyclopedic memory of every film they have ever watched. While you were impressed by a shirtless Hemsworth brother, they’re picking apart the sound, cinematography, or “character development.” Here’s a helpful guide so next time you hear the name Iñárritu, you don’t think it’s a new sushi restaurant.

1.  First assess the situation. Who are you dealing with? Film production kids? TV kids? Creative Producing? Film Studies? Anyone besides film production and film studies kids will be considerably more approachable when discussing movies.

2. Next you need to develop a film buff gauge – what kinds of films are they into? A good way to do this is to observe what they’re wearing. Film kids tend to wear ironic shirts of their favorite movies:

  • Star Wars – You’re in luck! These are some of the most approachable film kids. All you have to do is ask them what they thought about the new Star Wars movie, and I guarantee you won’t be able to get a word in.
  • Pulp Fiction – They revere Tarantino and won’t be afraid to repeatedly tell you why his movies are the best. Coen Brother fans are similar; both will defend their beloved idols until death do they part.
  • Flannel, beanie, big glasses, keys on a carabineer – TREAD CAREFULLY: you have come across someone who most likely prefers art house films and small indies, they will judge you for saying your favorite film is The Avengers. Instead cooly slip in a comment on how the Oscars are overrated and that the Indie Spirit Awards and those films deserve more cred. Then leave.

3. Second begin asking questions that let them do the talking. The worst thing you can do is tell a Spielberg fan you don’t like Indiana Jones or a Wes Anderson devotee that you think his films are strange.

  • Who would you say has inspired your creative process the most? Notice how I say “creative process” and how I don’t ask “what’s your favorite film?” Otherwise you will get the great pleasure of hearing the entire story of how they developed their taste in films.
  • Are you excited for the upcoming release of “The BFG”? Even though it’s a children’s book, it’s a Spielberg film which makes it an automatic must see. If they aren’t excited, you have stumbled upon someone with with no soul. Congratulations.
  • Do you think Leonardo DiCaprio will finally win an Oscar this year? They will probably use this time to talk about the boring dynamics of the old white men who make up the majority of Academy voters. The answer will be yes he will. Seize this opportunity to bring up how unfair it is that other equally talented actors still haven’t won an Oscar either. This will make you sound smart and knowledgeable.

4. God forbid you’ve been surrounded by a herd of film nerds. Here is a guide of brief responses of what you think of the major contenders:

  • The Revenant: “The dedication of the cast and crew itself deserves an Oscar. The fact that they filmed using only natural light is incredible and you can see how it makes a difference in the story. Iñárritu has a a real shot at winning Best Director again.”
  • Brie Larson for Best Actress: “People say this is a breakout role for her but they just didn’t pay enough attention to her in Short Term 12.” (*Short Term 12 is an indie film available on Netflix)
  • Spotlight’s screenplay: “This is the best film about investigative journalism since All the President’s Men that could be possibly made.”
  • The Big Short’s screenplay: “Can you believe the creator of Anchorman wrote this? What a tremendous dramatic story that is also a comedy.”
  • Mad Max: Fury Road: “The sound, editing and stunts are what make this film while the minimal dialogue really lets everything else stand out.”
  • The Martian: “Matt Damon.” Just leave it at that…we all know Damon is the poster boy for the Academy at this point and that’s why he gets all the love.

5. If worse comes to worse and you’re left standing there with no clue as to what to say, bring up the lack of diversity in the Academy and films in general. This you should understand and together you can bond over how we need to support more films that are more representative of the world.

A few Do’s and Don’ts:

  • DON’T ask about what’s after film school, this is scary territory for everyone, especially film kids. They’ve chosen to get an art degree that will be pretty much useless for anything other than film or TV work.
  • DON’T put down Spielberg, Lucas, Anderson, these aren’t people to film kids, they are flesh and bone GODS.
  • DON’T say your favorite film is a superhero or Disney movie featuring a princess, this will receive automatic judgment. However, a Disney movie you can use is Toy Story, it was an integral part of our childhoods. To put it down is like putting down Abraham Lincoln, it’s just not done.
  • DO use the word “film” not movie!
  • DO nod your head a lot and agree, because if you don’t they will ask you why and you probably won’t be able to answer because you zoned out while they were telling you their picks for Best Sound Mixing and Best Sound Editing even though they sound like the same thing to you.

Bonus Tip: If you want to quickly get out of talking to a film kid just proclaim that your favorite movie is Twilight. They will be gone faster than than you can say “Thank you to the Academy”.

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