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The View From Schreyer House

fakegrahamspanierThis past week I stopped by a COMM 150 class as a guest lecturer. What a rewarding experience. For those not in the know, COMM 150: The Art of The Cinema is an introductory film class – many of the students are embarking on their dreams of becoming part of the magic of the movie industry. So why was I there? Because the one of the most important parts of the job of University President is ensuring that the students are fully educated. That they know what they’re getting themselves into.

For I, Fake Graham Spanier, used to make Snuff Films.

Yes, it’s reprehensible. But you have to understand how my short stint in the industry came to be. You see, I was not unlike those fresh-faced COMM 150 students at one time – as a lad I dreamed of making films so great they would make Gone With the Wind look like a steaming pile of elephant feces. Not many people know this, but in the middle of college, I dropped out to travel to tinsel town – I had a creative vision that would not go unfulfilled.

However, making it in Hollywood isn’t as simple as it sounds – Los Angeles is not very much different than The Fast and The Furious portrays it: high stakes, expensive vices, and an abundance of mediocre talent. Within two weeks I was broke. I had nothing to show for myself but my aspirations and a nasty knife wound sustained from a coke dealer in South Central.

When you are on the cusp of giving up on your lifelong dream, you’ll do anything to sustain it. Odd jobs keep struggling actors and directors afloat, and can lead one down a dark path. I had made a few acquaintances on the Sunset Strip who needed an extra hand every now and then, and without any consistent source of income, was obligated to take any job opportunity that came my way.

One minute you’re carrying camera equipment for a quick buck, the next you’re holding a chloroform-soaked rag to a call girl’s mouth, hoping she will scream loud enough during the dismemberment scene.

My dark past is the reason behind my preoccupation with magic tricks. I hope one day, I can make the memories disappear.

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