When I sat down to watch the excellent documentary Head Wind (review coming soon), I didn't realize that I'd be subjected to the mental torture that was the short called Beginning Filmmaking. I don't think the rest of the sparse crowd expected to see the short, either, because we all kept asking each other in very loud voices, "Why aren't we seeing Head Wind?" and "Why the hell doesn't this guy leave his kid alone?"

In this short, filmmaker Jay Rosenblatt chronicles a year of trying to teach his four-year-old daughter Ella how to become a filmmaker herself, based on something she babbled when she was eighteen months old. He even goes so far as getting Ella a brand new camcorder for her fourth birthday.

Did I say she was four? Well, I can't say that enough, because throughout the 23 mind-numbing minutes of this film, Rosenblatt tries to teach Ella how to be an auteur, giving her lessons in composition, focus, light, and story. He's talking to her like she's an NYU film student, and all she wants to do is play with her toys and flick boogers (well, she doesn't do that last thing on camera, but don't most kids that age do that?).

All I could think of while watching this debacle was how bad I felt for this wonderful girl that Rosenblatt's been blessed with. She seems like an effervescent, cute kid whose development is a bit ahead of most kids her age (she can write, for instance). But she's still four, and Rosenblatt should have realized that boring lessons in composition were going to make her grumpy and tired.

I thought it was remarkable that she was able to work the camera well enough to get in frame and record video diary entries, though I'm not sure whether she had the camera on a tripod or if someone was filming them for her. But it seemed that Rosenblatt just couldn't leave well enough alone. It made me wonder why so many parents these days think their kids are some sort of prodigies, and force them to do activities like soccer and pick up hobbies like "filmmaking" instead of letting them just be kids.

Hopefully, Ella is young enough that she'll forget these lessons as she gets older. She may even pick that camera back up and start making movies. But, for Christ's sake, no four year old should be toting around a $500 camcorder for any reason.

Later in the day, I saw Rosenblatt coming out of a screening. I wanted to walk over to him and ask him if his daughter had recovered from her year as a film student. But the way he raises his kid is none of my business. I'm sure he'll find out when he starts getting the therapy bills in about fifteen years.