Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Waiter, there is too much pepper on my paprikash, but I would be proud to partake of your pecan pie...

Last night as I was about to climb into bed, I decided to check my email one last time.  That's when I noticed the latest news headline: the great Nora Ephron has passed away.

As many of you know, I went to New York University to study filmmaking.  Nora Ephron was one of the reasons I was so enchanted by the idea of creating movies.  Her characters and witty dialogue were tangible and her stories made you feel as though you were a part of them.  Just reading her scripts made me want to take part in making them come to life.  You just don't see talent like that anymore.

But, more than just a writer/director whom I admired, I actually had the chance to meet Nora and interview her for a class in college.  The class was called "Women in the Director's Chair," and our mission was to find and interview successful women in the field we were all hoping to break into.  As soon as the assignment was announced, I rushed out of the classroom and called her offices.  I'd been trying to get an internship there for months (but they only took interns during filming, and they were between shoots), so I already had the number.  Apparently, she got loads of requests for interviews each day, but she only agreed to a small number... I was one of the lucky ones.  Persistence pays off!

I was planning to post the interview on my blog, which was transcribed and emailed to Nora for approval back in 2000, but apparently Yahoo! deletes messages after they've been in your archives for so long... there is nothing left from before 2005... no wonder I can't find things I formerly thought were there.  How frustrating!  And I can't remember which disk the file is on, so I guess I'll have to do my best to remember the day.

I met Nora at a deli in TriBeCa.  She was dressed in all black and of course, very composed and engaged.  I was nervous as hell.  I could hardly contain myself.  I felt like a bumbling idiot asking her questions... I remember the worst part was that I suddenly questioned my own use of the word "preceding" in the middle of a sentence... as in: "Preceding my journey to New York to study filmmaking, I ...wait is preceding the right word?" Oy!  I was felt so stupid... She was so polite and reassuring though, and after that I calmed down a bit.  She even turned the interview around on me a bit and I remember doing my "My Cousin Vinny" impression for her... which I think she thought was funny... and brave... thinking about that memory actually makes me blush.  I remember she talked about how much she loved New York, and how she had 1000 bad ideas for every good one.

When the interview ended, she took me with her to her office and introduced me to her associates.  Despite the fact that they were between movie shoots, they found a place for me to do a small internship for a short while... I was a go-fer... getting coffees and making copies, and very occasionally meeting movie stars who would come through the door to see Nora.  And like most powerful filmmakers, avoiding her temper when it would get the best of her.   Her temper didn't compare to that of my next boss, but it certainly prepared me for it!

What I took from my experience with Nora was a great appreciation for a well made script and a deep desire to create films.  Thinking back on those days, I am overwhelmed with memories. In fact, I can't get over how much I miss New York City today, and even more than that, how much I miss working with great artistic minds like Nora Ephron, and all the amazing people she surrounded herself with.

My heart goes out to her family.  Thank you for sharing her with the world.  She will be greatly missed.

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