Monday, September 05, 2011


by Gina Sestak

No, I'm not completely crazy.  I'm just acknowledging the fact that, for the first few decades of our lives, we are trained to believe that the year begins on the first day of school.  Right around Labor Day.

I'm a grown-up now, I know.   I run on adult time.  I celebrate on January 1.  I think about the year as coinciding with the date.   Still, a part of me can't help getting excited and looking forward to new things each time September rolls around.

And so, I'd like to take this opportunity to assess the year so far.  How am I doing with those five non-resolutions I proposed to follow in my January post?

In case you've forgotten, here they are:

1.   Watch movies.  I love movies in general, but I've developed an unquenchable addiction to Bollywood films in general and those starring Shah Rukh Khan in particular.   He's the world's greatest actor, and that's no lie.

I haven't changed my opinion of Mr. Khan one bit.  In fact, now that I've completed another acting for the camera class at Pittsburgh Filmmakers, I'm more impressed with him than ever.
Watch this trailer for My Name is Khan, a film in which he plays a Muslim immigrant with Asperger's Syndrome, coping with life in the US after 9/11.  It's a film I recommend to everyone, particularly at this time of the year:

My fondness for Hindi films has developed into a full-blown addiction - if you don't believe me, see below for proof.

But now, back to the non-resolutions:

2.   Dance.  Folk dancing is a long-time passion (maybe one reason I like Bollywood so much).  I'm clumsy by nature, but once I get into the flow, the music carries me.  And it's such a treat to be moving in unison with other people for a change, in contrast to my usual sense of being a square peg in a round world.

I had been folk dancing almost every week up until three weeks ago, when I injured my left leg somehow.  I'm not sure exactly what went wrong, but the pain's well-nigh unbearable.  I'm getting treatment and it feels much better now than it did last week, so I'm hopeful.  Still, I didn't bother signing up for the mid-September dance camp I usually go to.  Bummer.

3.   Learn.  I bit the bullet and registered for two more courses at Pittsburgh Filmmakers.  As I've mentioned in past posts, Filmmakers' classes tend to be labor intensive, requiring many hours of outside work.  And the Acting for the Camera course I took last semester turned out to be one of the most terrifying things I've ever done, stripping down self image and exposing all the flaws, not only in surface appearance but in my very way of being in the world.  So I signed up for the follow up class, and for a short writing course on Screenplay Character Development.  I figure that can't hurt. 

Those classes are over now and, yes, that Advanced Acting for the Camera class was pretty scary.  For the first time in a few years, though, I haven't registered for a Pittsburgh Filmmakers class this semester.  I am auditing an undergraduate film class at Pitt - Bollywood and Indian Cinema.  [See what I mean about addiction?  Can't get enough of it.]  I'm also taking a short course on Favorite Foreign Films through Pitt's Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, although I have it on good authority that no Bollywood films will be included.  [My good authority is Dave Shifren, the instructor, who's not as enthralled with Indian cinema as I am.]  Oh, and Nancy Martin's on-line course on Subtext.  This is in addition to the cd-based Hindi lessons I've been doing for a half-hour every morning for the past few months.  I really want to be able to enjoy the films without being so dependent on the subtitles!

4.   Write.  The other day, when I mentioned the screenplays, etc. I've been working on, a friend said, "You have so much self-discipline!"  I had to correct her.  It would take more discipline than I possess to make myself stop writing.  I did more collaborative writing last year, on three of the screenplays, and that's a special kind of fun, even when nobody provides a special cake.  [See my December 20, 2010 post for details.]  Maybe that's one of the things I like about filmmaking - it takes a village to make a movie, and just being part of such a creative process is incredibly energizing.

I've started working on another screenplay with Michael Lies of Alcyone Pictures, as well as continuing to revise some of my unpublished manuscripts.  

5.   Try things I've never done before.  To that end, I'm pitching a class to a Pitt program on a subject near and dear to my heart - more on that later, once I find out if it flies or not. 

I pitched the class and taught it through Pitt's Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.  The subject?  You can probably guess.  It was  King of Bollywood: The Films of Shah Rukh Khan.  Need I say more?

How has your year been progressing?  Have you been keeping resolutions?  Developing addictions?   Are you ready for the school year to begin?  Inquiring minds want to know.


Annette said...

Bravo, Gina! I'm impressed. I gave up on resolutions several years back because I consistently failed at them.

Gina said...

I gave up on resolutions, too, Annette. These are non-resolutions, based on doing the things I want to do rather than trying to change the way I am, which is what normal resolutions try to do.

Joyce said...

Wow, Gina. You really are busy!

I don't make resolutions either. I like your idea of non-resolutions.

And this really is Happy New Year. Working Stiffs turned five years old on September 3rd!

Gina said...

Happy birthday to us! Happy birthday to us!

Annette said...

And they said we wouldn't last. Ha. Happy birthday, Stiffs!

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