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About Jenna Cato Bass

I'm a director, writer, photographer, aspiring explorer and retired magician living in Cape Town, South Africa

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"To think that I've lived here all of my life and never seen these things."

Posted March 31, 2011

Typical. Even in the interests of the coolness of 'live-blogging', I can't get it together to complete a post. Thus I'll have to make do with snippets from my recent trip to New York, which hopefully won't suffer from being a few days young (cough). Laura Palmer always says it best: 'I'm in kind of a funny mood'

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Live from New York City, where I sit in my Dog Day Afternoon pajamas and contemplate the last three days: I have listened to Ted Hope, sat on turquoise leather, eaten vegan fish, bought a ticket to see The Strokes and pitched my film to over twenty people. I'm here for a film seminar for Western Cape filmmakers (niche, I know), trying to attract interest for our local projects from the US industry. It's been a good experience and I finally feel like I'm getting the hang of this. I'm sure I was aided, however, by the fact that just before I left I finally completed a new draft of Tok Tokkie. No longer the fragile, tottering tower that with one sensible question from a curious sales agent comes tumbling down. No sir. I maybe wouldn't describe it as water tight, but it no longer resembles the first pair of All Stars I bought (i.e. nice and sentimental, but full of holes).

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What does one expect from these things? Despite whatever you tell yourself, there's a small part of your brain (buried deep in the same section that holds out hope that Steve Zahn may get another serious acting role after Rescue Dawn) which really believes you will walk away from one of these one-on-one's with a cheque in your shaking fist. I'm chatting about this afterwards, when the seminar's over, probably with Sean and Mike while running between bars trying to stalk The Strokes: All you can hope for are the magic words, 'send me your script'. Later, we're drinking too many gin and tonics, and being told by a supposed software entrepeneur surrounded by blondes that 'film is dead'. So that would put things in perspective. If I had believed him. At all. This is New York. They have vegan macaroni cheese. Things aren't too bad yet. That guy should just watch this. Looks like there's plenty to get excited about. 

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My best moment so far has been ripped straight out of a movie. A comedy, yes. I get a meeting with a big agent, high up in a building in a nice part of town. Too nice for me it seems, or so the doorman is evidently thinking. Manage to convince him I have a legitimate reason to be there and I'm on my way up in the elevator. I'm 15min early. Apparently this a good thing, says the assistant. I'm reading 'The Black Curtain', trying to calm down. Eventually I get led through a maze of corridors into an office with a better view of the city than what you'd get at a $10 tourist attraction. It looks like its snowing. I pitch my film to an audience that looks at me only when the blackberry isn't saying anything more intelligent (which is not often). Oh no, I think. This is really bad. I finish my pitch: And so Louis, who is a demon, teams up with The Black Cross, as well as the only remaining ghost in the city, to find out where the city's souls have vanished to (something like that). Pause. Beat. Silence. Then the person looks up and says, 'Good. I like it.' Outside, what looked like snow from up there is actually rain. But it could be anything. This time I don't feel it. 

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Films watched on the plane over:

CATFISH

RAISIN IN THE SUN

SAHARA

THE TOURIST (£*%@?)

THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI (like I was never not going to watch that)

THE TAMING OF THE SHREW

No wonder over the next few days I'm so tired. 

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But before I leave the best film I see is RED BEARD. Unbelievable. 

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It's always hard seeing your role models swept into the next generation. I'm watching The Strokes for the first time ever live, since my teenage-obsession took hold and, though I've grown up, it hasn't really gone away. I could say that band is part of the reason I make movies, and not just in the sense that the things you love are the reason you do anything. But what's interesting is that in the first time in a while, the experience makes me think outside of the world of making movies. It's strange. And maybe that's why the whole night feels like an out of body experience.

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I stagger to Queens afterwards, only half attached to the real world. I stay with Zach, who I've never met, but is a screenwriter working in a side of the film industry totally foreign to me. That's also like a vacation of sorts. He writes for the Screenwriters League which is really interesting to check out. And he knows a great diner in Queens. Ask him where it is if you want to sit on pink leather, get re-fill coffee, and watch men in gold chains order croissant french toast with swiss cheese.

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But ultimately, what happened? The answer is, I'm not sure. I will maybe be able to tell you next month, once the follow up emails have been sent, then the script (once it has passed through Kisha's all-seeing gaze), and some other things potentially coagulate. I know I need to watch some Guillermo del Toro movies. I know I need to finish two short stories (one a noir diamond rush-set western and the other about a ghost in the libyan desert) for my magazine (watch this space) to be published in May. I need to finish a short documentary, and finish two music videos. I need to start a book shop with Hannes and a indie distribution company with Zaheer. I need to listen to Life is Simple in the Moonlight. Over and over again. I need to work on my script. I need to send tons of emails. I need to google pictures of Julian Casablancas (No! No! I don't need to do that!). I probably just need to lie down. After the last week, I thought things would be different. But I'm still far from the place where there's nothing to look forward to but sleep.