Has anyone seen Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind? Truly, it's the worst name for a movie EVER, but WOW, what a film! I finally made time in my schedule to go see an actual, first-run movie (it's been ages!), and I'm so very glad that I did!
It was so much more than I expected. I think I was expecting more... I dunno... plot and all, but most of it takes place in the fascinatingly jumbled subconscious of Joel's (played by a quiet and geeky Jim Carey) mind. After a while, I figured out that I really needed to give up on trying to sequence events and all, and just enjoy the stream-of-consciousness stories of his mind. A few thoughts:
* Even though it's technically a sci-fi premise (a world where memories of people can be erased), it's not a sci-fi film at all.
* My director-friend Dan must see this film. The opening shots were in a style that is startlingly similar to his... I could almost see the notes on his copy of the script!
* Jim Carey and Kate Winslet were amazing in their performances as actors as we never get to see them. So nice to see Kate so deftly playing an edgy, messed-up, blue-and-green haired, scatttered, lost Gen-Xer.
* This very easily could've turned into an action flick (you'll see why when you see it). But I'm glad they resisted the urge to do that.
* The images. Oh, the images! I'd have been lost in them if they hadn't been so integral to the story. A few directors might want to take notes on how to make the scenes beautiful and meaningful without letting the SFX take over.
* Nice plot twists at the end. And they seemed very real, not at all construed. Probably because the characters were all so profoundly human.
* Great message in the end. Really. I was thinking during the film that I'd never want ANY of my memories erased, even the most unpleasant and painful ones, because they all make me who I am today. They've all made me stronger and wiser and maybe a bit more neurotic, but I really like the person I've become, and I wouldn't change a thing.
WOW! After weeks and weeks of planning and outlining, and one particularly tough week of writing, rewriting, hair-pulling, creating and re-creating visuals, practicing and rehearsing, I JUST GAVE MY FIRST SEMINAR. As in, on a topic that I came up with, organized, and wrote on my own--no one else's. It was Heidi saying "write your two-second statement" and Heidi's list of Golden Do's and Don'ts and Heidi thanking them for their time.
WOW! OK, I know; on the one hand; I give presentations all the time, and I used to give motivational seminars, so what's the difference? Why was I so damn worried about this one; why was this such a gut-wrenching challenge for me? It's that I wasn't representing another company--someone else's ideas or products (which I of course love to do), but my own. My own advice from my own experiences. It felt so much more personal to me, which is probably why the experience left me a stuttering, stumbling fool when I realized that they'd listened, written down my words, and actually learned something. Wow. It's been so long since I've taught, and I've always thought that professional adults were so much of a tougher crowd than kids.
Anyway, I'm just stunned that the talk went over so well. Oh, I've got ideas for improvement; don't get me wrong. But I'm thrilled that this seminar, into which it seems I've put every waking hour of the last week in particular, really helped some people. Wow. And I'm so thrilled to be "teaching" again that I did the modern equivalent of framing my first dollar.
So, Things Heidi Learned Today:
* Interactivity is good
* If you ask people to do something (like write something down), they will
* The basics always bear repeating and explanation
* Questions are good
You KNOW it's a busy day when you look up and suddenly realize that it's 2:00 p.m., and you've been hunched over your laptop for four hours without even looking up. I tell you, a herd of transvestite elephants could have waltzed by, and I wouldn't have noticed!
See, after meeting with my fellow presenter Patti this morning, I've decided to take a different approach for the visuals for my seminar this weekend. Really, you'd think that will all the public speaking I do, I wouldn't be nearly so nervous and worried about putting together a simple seminar on a topic that I talk about casually all the time. But I spent four hours rewriting it yet AGAIN today. And thank you, Patti, for reminding me not to overuse my visuals and to HAVE FUN with it!
And on other lines... a friend wrote an excellent script for a very creepy short film to be submitted to WeeklyDV.com, and asked me to fill in for an actress that flaked out at the last minute. Since I had the evening free anyway and welcomed the chance to work on a freakier project, I read the script, jumped in the car, and headed up to Milwaukee for filming. 'Sides, it was a great escape from the constant seminar edits I've been making in my head!
And I tell you, Dan Wilson is really a master of mood and the dark side of people. The film topic was "psycho", and you can see a handful of directors' interpretations of that topic on WeeklyDV.com. Dan's idea was much darker than the others, I think. But then, that's really what he does best. :-) It's the story of two coworkers making casual elevator conversation at the end of the day, and then... one breaks a nail. I won't spoil the ending for you; it's only two minutes, and you should watch it yourself! Check out the above site and click on the film "Findings," or just use this link.
Isn't it amazing what you can find out about people if you just ask?
One thing I've noticed about Vegas is the spirit of community here. OK, now, don't laught; hear me out. See, because of the festive nature of the town, it's perfectly acceptable to strike up conversations with total strangers in the elevator, hallways, bars, by the pool, even on the street. A few cases in point:
(1) Yesterday a very nice woman and I started talking by the pool. It turns out she is starting a security company, and a friend invited her to this conference at the last minute. She asked what I did, and then insisted on getting a card and even asked for a call in two months, when her company will be under way and in need of a presenter.
(2) Last night I decided to pop in to the Bellagio bar while I was waiting for the next fountain and music show to begin. A woman commented on my necklace, and she, her boyfriend, and I had a lovely conversation about life and goals and what have you. Turns out she's a retired ballet dancer turned public speaker, and will no doubt be a damn good one! I'm emailing her a list of recommended reading as we speak!
(3) On the recommendation of the above retired dancer, I went to Mon Ami Gabi for dinner at Paris. Since the wait for a table was two hours and I was ravenous, I opted to eat at the bar, next to a couple from England and Ireland. Spent the meal discussing American foreign policy with the chap from Ireland and rheumatology with his doctor-wife.
Anyway, it's been a lovely trip and a very successful show for the client. I'm looking forward to the last day of the show today, and also to a day of rest tomorrow!
I really can't even imagine a more successful trip and show than we've had so far! Eagle Events is launching its new name, logo, and expanded services at this show, and they've already garnered more leads on the first day than they did for the entire show last year! As a matter of fact, we were all incredibly flattered when a longtime, well-established competitor kept sending people over to watch/spy on our presentations. Even that company's president and founder, a well-known 20-year veteran of the industry, sat through an entire presentation. As Dave pointed out, you know you're doing really well when the industry leader considers you such a great threat. ;-)
And then, of course, there were the receptions. As usual, Exhibitgroup giltspur threw a fabulous bash at the House of Blues. Great food, free booze (none for me, thanks), and lots of dancing made for a very happy Heidi. There was even a station for airbrush tattoos, and now we're all sporting cool, hip tattoos. Really, it's a great idea for a party; the line was always long, and it made the event quite memorable. I recommend getting an airbrush tattoo artist for anyone trying to set an event apart from the rest!
Well, I'm nice and settled in Vegas for the Exhibitor Show. I'm really quite excited--the client is expanding the company by leaps and bounds, and I'm very much looking forward to watching them grow and (hopefully) growing with them.
Last night's rehearsal went well on my part, although we're going over it again this morning to cover some sound and booth issues. Still, I'm not worried. It's a great script and a great service that the client is offering, so I'm positive it will be a fabulous show for Eagle Entertainment.
Plus, with a view like this out of my hotel room, who could ever complain?
It's been quite the week of filming here in Chicago. First a two-day shoot for training reps for Allstate in a new system (did you know that for the past few years, Allstate has offered financial services such as college and retirement planning?), which was a lot of fun. And, if I may say, considering it was my very first experience with the teleprompter, my performance wasn't too shabby. Actually, I think I only blew a line once--every other redone take was because the real agents (as in, not actors) were a bit too stiff and unnatural or needed to consult with lawyers to change a word or phrase in the script. But everyone was very patient and cool, two traits that make a shoot go very well.
The shoot yesterday was a last-minute gig for a training video for a new coffeemaker by Sara Lee. And the timeline went something like this:
10:00 p.m. the night before: Heidi sees the 26-page script for the first time. She lays down her lines and thanks the universe for the ear prompter. She notices that there is a lot of closeup demonstration with the actual coffee maker, and starts to worry that her agent forgot that Heidi's hands are arthritic and don't photograph well on-camera for closeups.
5:00 a.m. Heidi gets up and does hair and makeup. She checks for her script, ear prompter, extra tapes and batteries, voucher, several pairs of black pants, makeup bag, extra hairspray, water, and clear nail polish.
6:30 Out the door to Milwaukee. The guy at the drive-through coffee place smiles as he sees Heidi with her hair in curlers yet again. Frankly, he's never seen her any other way!
8:15 Arrive on location in Milwaukee, 15 minutes early, with perfect hair and ready to go. Heidi meets Chris, the producer, and immediately shows him her hands and asks what he wants to do--and understanding that he's on a tight schedule, she's willing to to whatever they need to get done on time, with no hard feelings if they need to bring in someone else.
8:30 Heidi places a calm call to her very understanding agent to apprise her of the situation, then hands the cell phone over to the producer and politely exits the room so they can speak privately.
9:00 The producer decides that he likes my voice and presence and still wants to use me for 90% of the video; they'll just call in a favor and bring in an ex-employee, Jackie, who happens to have the day free. Issue solved, and very professionally, I might add.
10:00 The client realizes that the script I'm rehearsing is one she hasn't seen, and edits begin.
11:30 Lunch arrives.
12:15 Yay! Shooting begins! Heidi gets everything in one or two takes, including even more last-minute script changes. Yes, this made me feel like SUPER TALENT! She slices! She dices! She makes last-minute script changes faster than a speeding bullet, and all in one take!
2:30 Heidi finishes shooting, shakes hands all around, and heads off to her agent to let her know how the shoot finished up.
5:30 Heidi arrives back in Chicago, changes into sweats, and collapses.
So if you've ever wondered what your friendly, neighborhood corporate presenter does when she's not traveling and rehearsing for your trade show, now you know!
OK, little thrill today! I'm blogging this from a Starbucks near my home (where I've gone ostensibly to force myself to work on the seminar I'm giving later this month... obviously *that* plan worked), and I'm connected to the Internet wirelessly from a remote location for the very first time! Wheeeeeeee! Yup. No wires coming from this baby; there's not even a power cord at the moment. Just me, the new iBook, WiFi and my tall skim latte. Yippeeeeeeee!
Now I can procrastinate from an entirely new location!
Hello, all! I'm feeling very professional today, even though I'll confess to you that I dove into work and didn't stop this morning, so I'm still in my bathrobe!
Just got calls from two of my friends/clients, so two new contracts are on their merry electronic ways. Both of these guys are absolutely wonderful; I'm especially looking forward to working with Dave of Eagle Entertainment again at the Exhibitor show in a few weeks. His company has expanded from video, print, and multimedia design to being a full-service trade show company, providing everything from creative input to full design to talent like myself or your average juggling bear. It's truly a good move for Eagle, especially considering the wealth of talented folks behind the company.
And on a personal note, can I just say that I still get a kick out of saying, "Oh, yeah, I'm sending those contracts out this morning," just like some power player on the TV shows I used to watch. Sure, I know that at heart a contract is a pretty boring thing, but I still get that thrill out of working for myself.