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the education of elena r.

I cannot quite believe it, by looking at the calendar, that I’m now entering the 8th month of work on “The Illusionists.” Indeed, it all started during my stay in Italy back in early March.

It all comes down to invisible work for the time being, with nothing concrete to show, but a lot of ideas and topics and facts and numbers dancing around in my head.

For an outside observer / fly on the wall, these eight months of research and writing could have appeared monotonous. Days spent pouring over books, and articles, and staring at my Powerbook’s screen, looking for the right words to describe the documentary. 

Well, far from it. These eight months have been some of the most enriching of my entire life. I learned just about a million new facts, some useful, some drivel, that I would have never been exposed to, had I not started work on this film.

With three-four books per week, for a good six months, I have now acquired the reading skills/speed of Will Hunting.

I am now somewhat of an expert on the following subjects:

– Persuasion techniques from the early 1900 to the 1950s

– The history of Barbie dolls

– Marketing products to kids ages 5 – 15

– Cellulite

– Wrinkles

– Tanning

– Skin whitening creams

– Women’s magazines and complementary copy

– Media condensation

– Economic practices brought forward by the Chicago School of Economics

– The history of Communism

– The history of the American feminist movement

– Misogynist practices in American culture

– Botox

– Liposuction

– Breast augmentation

– The history of dieting practices in the U.S.

– Airbrushing in print publications and film/video

and the list could go on and on…

There have been days when the people working at the checkout counter at my library would look at me with a puzzled expression. The most precious look they gave me was when I borrowed a Dr. Seuss children’s book (had some stereotypes about aging), Marx’s Communist Manifesto, Hating Women, Fat History, and a copy of Seventeen magazine.

These days, now that I am somewhat done with the research / writing part of the film, I am pitching the project to production houses and contacting prospective interview subjects. 

With all the filming material already at my disposal (HD camera, 35mm adapter, lenses) I could already be filming. But the project is so important that I want to have a serious, solid team/backing in place.

So, I’m now jotting down ideas for a parallel project that I could be doing on my own, with simple means. Will keep you posted on that.