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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

R.I.P. Marcus Eisenstein

I just found out a few moments ago that Marcus Eisenstein, the man that taught me film production in college, has passed away. I'm sorry to say that I have no idea how old he was at the time; not for nothing, but Marcus ALWAYS seemed "old" to me...but not in that crotchety, pain-in-the-ass way...but in the "I've been there, done that, and shot it on 16mm reversal stock" kind of way.

I remember my first day of "Film Production I" very well. We were all sitting down at our desks, when this old guy comes sashaying into the room. He turned around to the class and told us all point-blank: "Only 1 or 2 of you is every going to make it as filmmakers. The rest of you are just wasting your time." He was the kind of guy that taught you the bare minimum; it was up to YOU to go to him to pick his brain and learn the rest. I learned how to back-wind film in a 16mm hand-wound Bolex camera to do double exposure effects shots because of him. I also learned how to take light meter readings merely by holding a hand up to the light (I was STUNNED whenever he did that, and was HELL BENT on figuring out how he did it!).

This was the man that was so impressed by my first film, that when the Film Department's work was presented at the end of the year at the annual "Media Arts Film Festival", he got up in front of the audience and said the following (I will NEVER forget this): "I've been teaching film for a long time, and I have never seen two students that held such promise. Chuck Conyers and Doug Langway. These two guys  have made some of the best student films I've seen."

The last time I saw Marcus was on 9/11. It was a few hours after the towers fell. Since there was no way off the island at that point (all trains and tunnels and ferry's were shut down), I walked across town to Doug's apartment (he had a job near the WTC, but did not go into work that morning because he pulled an all-nighter-- talk about luck). We went to the liquor store to buy a bottle of Vodka, and on the way back to his apartment, we saw Marcus just walking around. We stopped and talked to him for a while, and when I asked him what he thought about "all this crazy shit", he just flagged his hand and said, "Eh...It's nothing new. I remember Pearl Harbor. We'll get over it-- we always do."

Marcus gave me the courage that I needed to be able to express myself the best way that I could as an artist. And for that, I will NEVER forget him.

Please take a look at the trailer for his last film, God is On Their Side (or, "God is on The Other Side", as it now appears to be called), starring Buster Poindexter as "God".

The following is the film that I remember seeing him edit a month before I had my first class with him. It's called "The Electric Chair", starring the late Victor Argo.

R.I.P. will be missed.

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