Disrupting Hollywood's Timeline Capítulo 33 (2024)

Walking through the triptych arches and past the Von Polka sculpture, Michael arrived at the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California (USC). He entered a small office building and soon reached the office of his former mentor.

He knocked on the door, and a familiar voice called out, "Come in."

Michael opened the door and saw the nearly sixty-year-old man. "Good morning, Professor."

"Oh, Michael," Professor Johnson removed his reading glasses. "Have a seat."

Michael had called Professor Johnson yesterday, so he was open. He found a chair and sat down, smiling. "Professor, I'm here to trouble you again."

Professor Johnson turned to face him. "None of that polite talk. You shouldn't have dropped out."

Michael knew Professor Johnson had held young Davenport in high regard, so he had visited USC several times. He sighed and said, "I was impulsive then, but Seashore Entertainment was my father's legacy. Someone had to take over."

The words were heartfelt, and Professor Johnson couldn't dwell on the matter. "You were too hasty."

Michael nodded. "Failing once taught me that thinking and doing are entirely different."

Professor Johnson looked at him, recalling their past meetings. "You've matured and become more composed." He said, "Michael, remember you can't make films on impulse."

"I understand," Michael said, following the professor's words. "That's why I'm here to seek your help."

Professor Johnson asked directly, "Is it about production?"

Michael replied, "Partly. I feel inadequate. The knowledge I learned in school isn't enough for my current work."

"I've been out of the frontline for nearly ten years, and I wasn't particularly successful before," Professor Johnson said. "Projects I co-produced mostly failed at the box office. I can't offer much in terms of successful experiences."

He opened a file cabinet and took out some old black notebooks. "These are my work notes and personal insights from back then. They include my analysis of why certain projects failed. Also, these are records of discussions I've had with students who entered Hollywood, mostly about their projects—mostly failures, a few successes."

Michael quickly took them. These were invaluable experiences, precisely what he needed most.

"I've been observing you during your recent visits," Professor Johnson said. "If you were still like you were when you dropped out, I wouldn't be able to help you."

Michael understood what he meant. Young Davenport had been arrogant when he dropped out, making many impulsive, hot-headed decisions.

"I was out of my mind back then," Michael admitted with an embarrassed smile. "Luckily, your advice helped me not lose my way."

Everyone likes to hear kind words, and Professor Johnson appreciated it. "Some of these records I've used as teaching materials. Failure is also a kind of gain. From failed cases, you can summarize some experiences and avoid repeating them. Make copies and return the originals."

Michael guessed he wasn't the first to receive these. Professor Johnson was known for his helpfulness, often aiding students, but this was invaluable to him. "Thank you for the reminder, Professor." He added, "I have another favour to ask."

"Go ahead," Professor Johnson was always generous with his students.

Michael didn't beat around the bush. "The film I'm producing, 'The Purge,' needs an editor proficient in horror-thriller editing. Can you recommend someone?"

Those familiar with USC's film school knew that the professors didn't just teach theory. Some were Hollywood professionals. Many graduates became key players in Hollywood's technical fields.

"If we only taught theory," Professor Johnson would say, "graduates would leave blind, banging their heads against the wall—especially in a hands-on industry like film."

"You need an editor?" Professor Johnson asked.

"Yes," Michael said, looking distressed. "I've found a few, but none are suitable."

"I'll introduce you to one," Professor Johnson said. "She graduated three years before you and was my student, too."

Michael scratched his head, seeming embarrassed. "Is she expensive? My budget is tight."

"Isn't the public budget $11 million?" Professor Johnson asked.

Michael replied straightforwardly, "That's just for publicity."

This was common in the industry, and Professor Johnson didn't mind. "Her name is Jessica Felton. She's a genius in editing, worked as an assistant editor on 'Friday the 13th: Part VIII,' and was the main editor on 'Deadly Run,' 'Blood and Guns,' and 'Savage West'—though these were direct-to-video films."

"A woman?" Michael was surprised.

Professor Johnson found a phone book and pointed to a number. "Watch those three films first. If you think she's suitable, contact her."

Female editors were rare in Hollywood. However, Michael remembered Davenport's memories of Professor Johnson being reliable, so he noted Jessica Felton's number.

After discussing "The Purge" and seeking advice on some production issues, Michael left USC. He went to a Blockbuster store to rent those three films.

In the store, he asked, "I'd like to rent these three films. Where can I find them?"

The clerk pointed to the right. "That's the horror section. You'll have to look yourself."

Seeing the long rows of shelves and countless tapes, Michael felt dizzy. "Which shelf exactly?"

"Who remembers those small films?" The clerk shook his head. "You'll have to search."

Michael had no choice but to head to the horror section. It took him over twenty minutes to find two of the films. "Deadly Run" was nowhere to be seen.

He had to settle for renting the two he found, waiting in line for nearly ten minutes due to the crowd.

Back in his car, looking at the large Blockbuster sign, Michael felt the experience firsthand. Compared to online shopping or rentals, this traditional mode needed to be updated.

Searching was inconvenient, finding non-popular films was challenging, wait times were long, and the process was cumbersome—enough to frustrate anyone.

These points alone were fatal.

The future would be faster-paced, with less patience from the masses.

Thinking of Netflix's model—easy searching, almost no process once subscribed, monthly fees, no late fees—it was clear Netflix was the future.

Fortunately, he had his eyes on Netflix. The high-paid investigation company sent weekly reports.

Back at the office, Michael saw George and Robert, two experienced guys. He called them in, explained briefly, and started watching the rented tapes, analyzing the editing.

They watched the tapes several times, even ordering takeout for lunch. It was almost the end of the workday when they finally turned off the TV and VCR.

Michael was mostly satisfied but worried that his lack of experience would affect his judgment. "What do you think of the editing?"

Robert spoke first. "The film's shots are average, and the picture quality isn't great. But the editing shows skill." He glanced at his notebook. "At the ninth minute, seventeenth minute, twenty-third minute, fifty-fifth minute, and the ending—the director's mistakes were evident, but the editing corrected them and created a strong horror atmosphere."

Less talkative but straightforward, George said, "This editor has skill yet to be discovered."

This was common. Many skilled individuals in Hollywood have yet to make it big.

Michael nodded. "I'll visit her tomorrow."


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