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Looking Around

1998, 5min. (Color/Hi8 Digital Video)


Sascha Rasmussen, Telita Perry


Pete (Sascha Rasmussen) and his friends are watching a Minnesota Vikings football game on television, when Amanda (Telita Perry) knocks on the door. The minute Pete sees her, he is smitten. Amanda simply needs directions - she can't find her friend's apartment because the doors aren't numbered. The two exchange pleasantries as Pete shows her the way. She smiles and she's on her way.

A few weeks later, Pete is at a vending machine trying to decide which soda to buy. Amanda strolls up, and asks if she may go ahead, since she knows what she wants. However, Amanda's dollar bill is too dirty and wrinkly for the machine to accept. She turns to leave, dejected, but Pete offers her his quarters. At first she refuses, but Pete buys her the soda anyway. She is very gracious and thinks that something is really starting to happen between them. But Pete makes his excuses and takes off.

A few days later, walking on his college campus, Pete bumps into Amanda again. Both wave hi, and Pete gets to thinking. He decides to go after her. He follows her into a courtyard where he loses track of her and must hunt around trying to find her.

He searches for as long as reasonably possible, and then gives up. He leaves the courtyard and heads back the way he came, but Amanda is behind him. They walk for a while, neither aware of the other, until he discovers her again and takes the opportunity to approach her and make her acquaintance. She smiles and accepts him warmly.

Production Notes

I first found out about Looking Around when I got to school in the fall of 1998. It was Joe's project for Cinema 310 [Intermediate Film and Video Production] at USC. He would write and direct, I would be in charge of cinematography and editing, and then we would switch roles for my film at the second half of the semester. The first thing I did was to help schedule and audition actors for the two main roles of the film. We employed a few techniques we learned in class, and decided on Sascha Rasmussen and Telita Perry.

Shooting the film was a lot of fun. As cinematographer, I was in charge of setting up the lights and the camera to make the prettiest pictures possible. We experimented with a number of ideas, contributing to the varying tones of the film. Another concern of mine was production stills. As a former employee of the USC Moving Image Archives, I am familiar with the production notebooks compiled on student films such as Looking Around and the production stills are always the best part. Fortunately, Production Assistant Andy Cheatwood was on hand to help take pictures whenever needed. Sometimes he had to stand in the shot to get the best angle. We had to shoot another take, but I think it was worth it!

I was also able to collaborate with Joe as director, offering various insights about the filming process. I provided him with a few shots he hadn't considered, like closeups of Amanda's (Telita Perry) dollar bill in the soda machine, and the Pepsi(R) bottle dropping into the delivery bin of the soda machine. These allowed him some more freedom in the editing room, even if he ultimately decided not to use them.

Interestingly enough, out of three locations (apartment, soda machine, courtyard) on the film, standardized tests were twice being administered within thirty feet of our filming. At the soda machine, high schoolers were taking the ACT in an adjacent room and actually took their break on our set, interrupting filming, and in the courtyard, we had students flooding across the sidewalk to move from their test to another building. Pretty strange coincidences.

We had a good time on the film (and I think the production stills reflect that!). It was fun jazzing up the more kinetic second half with SteadiCam and dolly shots (the former using my now famous poor-man's-process method). And our decisions on the music, while met with a certain resistance by our classmates and instructors, contributed to what I think is a more exciting and interesting film. And I believe that Joe would agree on that point.