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July 24, 2014
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Back at NYU


I started talking and passing out the handouts. More and more students kept coming in and I, for some reason, kept stopping and asking who they were. One really broke my train of thought and I completely forgot what I was talking about.

It became very clear that I was driving the bus. Without my voice, there was only silence. And then, suddenly, there were 17 of them sitting there looking at me and I didn’t have enough handouts.

My brain whirled in this silence that was probably just five seconds, but felt like an eternity. Should I stop the class and send someone to go make copies? I wondered because I remember teachers doing that sometimes.

“If a few of you don’t mind sharing, that’d be great,” I said, pointing back up to the board where I had written my email address. “E-mail me and I’ll send you an electronic version.”

It was the truth and it seemed to satisfy them. I continued talking about the roles of an editor. What I was saying felt a little boring and I couldn’t really tell if I had their attention. Some of them were definitely with me. But I was a bit nervous and my jokes—yes, I made the one about “The Cutting Edge”—didn’t feel natural.

I breathed a sigh of relief when I started the movie and sat in the back of the room watching it over their shoulders. Afterward, I reminded them to buy the book and told them I’d see them next week. I left quickly, a bit shell-shocked. The whole thing had been a blur and I could really only remember the bad parts.

While before I had been dreading the second class because I thought I would sound canned or rehearsed if I was doing the same things again, now I was so thankful that there was a second class; I knew I could do better.

Two days later, I felt like a different person. I was ready for the awkward pre-class silence by bringing a crossword puzzle. I shouted out questions as the students entered. “Three letters—Richard Gere title role.” No one knew but they all played along. One of them looked up the answer on his iPhone. “Dr. T,” he told me.

After class many of them milled about asking me questions. I raced back to my edit room. All of this talking about editing had given me an idea structurally in the documentary I was cutting. Two birds with one stone.