' Cinema Romantico: Matthew McConaughey Class Curriculum

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Matthew McConaughey Class Curriculum

Last week Kelsey Bradshaw of the San Antonio Express-News reported that Matthew McConaughey, whose famed renaissance of several years ago, has, depending upon which media outlet you read, completely dissipated, partially dissipated, been downgraded from a renaissance to a holding pattern, mathematically proven to have never existed, or merely transformed into a case of “hey, the McConaughey abides”, will return to his alma mater, the University of Texas at Austin, to teach a film class. He “will take students ‘behind the scenes’ of his upcoming film ‘Free State of Jones’ through recorded videos and at least one on-campus visit.” He will do this in tandem with “Free State of Jones” director Gary Ross, but c’mon now……we all know Mr. Ross is the mere teaching assistant to Professor McConaughey. And Professor McConaughey does not strike me as a stick-to-the-syllabus sorta instructor. So, if on the first day of class, Professor McConaughey teleports from videotape to the classroom and tells those starstruck students in his charge that he’s simply going to “feel” his way through this course, well, would that surprise you? Of course it wouldn’t.

And so we got to thinking. We got to thinking about what the first few weeks of a Professor Matthew McConaughey class might look like. This is what we determined.

Matthew McConaughey Class Curriculum

Week 1

“Every culture has its own lore pertaining to rocks, stones, gems, etcetera, and class, I assure you, Hollywoodland is no different. Take me for instance.” (He holds up a small stone.) “Now this, class, was a small piece of smoky quartz I found outside a taqueria in central Texas just prior to the filming of ‘Magic Mike.’ Now studies show that smoky quartz retains the ability to absorb and transmute all the negative energy that builds up inside you in order to release it back into the Earth where it is naturally neutralized. And ever since that film, that’s how I play my roles, unburdening myself of all the negative energy that this industry of motion pictures inevitably provides. So as your first assignment, class, I want you to go out there and scour campus, from the quad to the Darrell K. Royal Texas Memorial Stadium parking lot to find your stone and whatever particular power it may possess. Because until you have your stone, and until you know your stone’s spiritual property and how it ties into your acting journey, that journey cannot commence.”


Week 2

“Now my first movie, as you may recall, was ‘Dazed and Confused’, helmed by my righteous amigo Rick Linklater. First day of shooting concludes and I see Rick and a couple sound guys setting up to record…..well, what? I didn’t know. So I asked. One of the sound guys said they needed some ‘room tone.’ ‘Room tone?’ I said. ‘What’s room tone?’ Now he told me that ‘room tone’ was the sound behind the sound, the background noise, captured in every location you shoot to ensure that what you hear sounds completely au naturel. But then afterwards, Rick came up to me, and he said ‘Matt, that's the literal definition of room tone. But that's not what room tone really is.’ So I asked, ‘Rick, amigo, I need to know the skinny. What is room tone...really?’ And he told me to stand still and not speak. So I did. I heard a floorboard creak. I heard a soft rustle. He said ‘Nah man, you’re listening. You’re not hearing.’ And then I got extra still. I didn't listen. I just......was. And then I heard it. I heard the scraping of the aural fingerprints across the chalkboard of the soul. Rick looked at me. He said: ‘See? Now that’s room tone.’”


Week 3

Matthew McConaughey and a student, Andrew, sit in an editing bay.

Andrew: “Man, I’ll never get this edit right.”
Matthew McConaughey: “I suggest you try ’er again, hombre. Only this time.....”
---Matthew McConaughey places a helmet on Andrew’s head that shields the student’s eyes.”
Matthew McConaughey: .“....let go your conscious self and rely on instinct.”
Andrew: “But with the blast shield down I can’t even see! How am I supposed to edit?”
Matthew McConaughey: “Your eyes can deceive you, hombre. Don’t trust ’em.”


Week 4

“Now a performance, class, both is and is not an immutable thing. It’s what you see, finite, like a classic Rock-Ola still getting the kicks out, but it’s also what you feel, in here-“ (thumps chest) “-as time goes by, your own personal philosophy morphing to make way for all kinds of new-fangled cogitations that arise from amassing knowledge . That’s why you’ve got to maintain the sense of the present but also see the future. You’ve gotta commune with what you wanna be while staying solid with who you are. Then, your whole self, there and to be there, will unify, and that will allow you to fully drill down to reach the soul of your character so that character is you and you are that character because, hey now, aren’t we all everyone anyway?”


Week 5

“Stephen H. Burum once said  ‘the art of cinematography is the art of lighting and making that light tell the story.’ And Mr. Burum's not wrong. Trouble is, when it comes to light, they wanna throw around a trove of elaborate terminology when movie lighting has nothing to do with the lights up here... (He points at the fluorescent lights overhead) ...and everything to do with what’s in here.” (He points to his heart.) Lighting, class, comes from within, and it is the actor’s ultimate responsibility to illuminate his or her surroundings, to effectively effuse the necessary effervescence to provide the director with precisely the level of brightness he or she seeks. Here. Let me show ya. (He turns off the light. Five seconds pass. Matthew McConaughey literally glows.)

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