Alright all you suave movie producers and distributors... I've got the Mouth out here doing your dirty work for you... searching through piles and piles of black spun gold.... Video Tapes that is. And... we've made it easy for you. You like the sound of it? Click the email link at the end of the individual reviews, and you're talking to the filmmaker... How sweet is that? That's right, ya don't have to have an assistant look it up, search phone books or none of that shit. We gotcha covered. The MOUTH is firmly planted to suck up the cream of the crop. And boy can that MOUTH suck! Why... today, he managed to not only devour a pile of tapes, but found 4 nuggets worthy of your attention. No big stars, no multi-picture deals... these are the real deals... Go get em!!! And remember... The Mouth tastes em all!
Mouth here... Didn't I warn you that I was going to make Harry do the Truffle Shuffle if I didn't get enough submissions...and look what happened!
Seriously folks, I got a lot of tapes here at the Goondocks, but I know there's more of you out there that have made movies. A lot of you have given me web links, and that's really cool, but you have to understand, with that I can get only an idea of what you have done, but anything on the computer (unless you send me a DVD) is going to be a substandard reviewing format. In other words, it's going to look bad compared to tape. The idea here is to make it look as good as possible, right? Right! So send your tapes over or I'll think up something REALLY heinous to do.
OK, on to the Rich Stuff.
My atonement to the film community for my crime is to search out the independent film gems that exist out there. The great ones that I think really have something that people need to see. The RICH STUFF. Treasure hidden god knows where. All the films I mention today gleam like gold taken from One-Eyed Willie's Pirate Ship.
My first piece of rich stuff today is BLEAK FUTURE, a wholly entertaining feature-length post-apocalyptic action comedy directed by Brian O'Malley and produced by Steven Darancette. This film is hilarious! Think Six-String Samurai and a Boy and his Dog meets Peter Jackson's Bad Taste by way of Monty Python with dashes of Evil Dead and Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy thrown in for flavor.
BLEAK FUTURE begins with the chronicle of the way the word was in the early 2000s, the time right before society as we know it became incredibly close to perfect, before ending tragically. These history lessons are peppered throughout the film, as it is broken up into chapters.
We are quickly introduced to SLANGMAN, our hero. Slangman's purpose is to carry knowledge to those who have none, for a price paid in precious batteries. Whether what he teaches the ignorant, mutated masses is correct or not, only Slangman knows...for he is the most intelligent human alive (as far as he is concerned, anyway.)
A post-apocalyptic moronic Indiana Jones, Slangman collects archaeological fragments of the lost world, such as toilet paper and soda...or was that can really a hand grenade? The most important thing he is looking for is "The Source." The source is the key to unlocking the history of our time, via a golden disc that is brought to our dear Slangman by a mute Scotsman.
Slangman and the Scotsman (named Atlatl by Slangman) carry on an epic journey North, braving Nomads, shantytowns, hippie preachers, mutants, bald women, and the mutant who took Atlatl's tongue...all for the name of THE SOURCE.
This movie is awesome. Shot on Super 8 and digitally transferred to video, I understand that it was shot for a really low budget. This astounds me, because the make-up is superb...mutants come alive in this one with some really great designs that I had never seen before. There's plenty of realistic blood and gore...it would make both Sam Raimi and Peter Jackson very, very happy.
The scenes are shot and framed well, and the action sequences are fast-paced and cut quickly, without ever confusing the audience (something even big-budget movies like Battlefield Earth sometimes fail to do.) Pacing is so important in independent projects. I think that's possibly the first thing that sets a film apart from the rest of it's independent brethren. A lot of different effects are applied to the sky and background throughout the film, really giving the overall feel of a scorched, battered earth.
Also, the music throughout the film, as composed by director Brian O'Malley is perfect. It keeps the mood on target without distracting you from the film.
For the life of me, I have no clue why some distribution company has not picked this film up for some sort of distribution. Either theatrically, or at least for video, hell...a good run on Joe Bob Briggs' Monstervision... or something! Please, if you have anything you can do for these guys, or would like more information on this production, please email Producer Steven Darancette at email@example.com.
Our second piece of booty is a 90 minute Documentary entitled PITCH PEOPLE, produced, directed, and edited by Stanley Jacobs. It is really unfortunate that a lot of people cringe when they even hear the word documentary. I personally think that is because many docs just simply aren't done properly.
First: I don't believe as a documentarian, a director or interviewer should not become a character in the film. I understand, sometimes it is necessary to have a question and answer session taped in it's entirety, but if done properly, the subject matter should appear to an audience as if it was telling itself. Have a voice over if there are any gaps. When was the last time you watched the Discovery or History channel and saw a production about a journalist trying to make a movie about a period of history...you don't...and if you did...then it wouldn't be a good documentary, then would it?
Rant over...Mr. Jacobs' PITCH PEOPLE is a wonderful example of how to properly and interestingly create a documentary.
Pitch People is the history of the salesmen and women that started hawking their wares from the back of carts...the old "snake-oil" salesmen, through the days of boardwalks and fairs, and have ended up on the modern infomercial. One of the things I enjoyed about Pitch People is that it opened me up to a society and distinction of people that I really never thought about much before.
I know I've sat in front of the television, trying to change that channel, but couldn't help but stare at that chopper/slicer/car wax/whatever-it-is-o-matic, but never really thought of the origins of these types of salesmen.
The pitch person really is a very specific sort of actor... I've acted and sold things in my time, and yes I do have a Mouth on me the size of Montana...and selling things is very difficult for me. So it amazes me to see these men and women go. As an actor, what's the feedback you get from your audience? Applause is how the audience tells you "Good Job," but in sales of this sort, as one of the Pitch People points out, the applause is money, the applause is how many sales are made. Now, I don't know about you, but clapping one's hands is a whole lot easier than forking over your hard-earned 29.95...but these magicians of the art of the Pitch do it, all day long.
Pitch People is a extremely well-shot and cut film. In many independent films, there might be something about it, no matter how small, that yells independent. Perhaps it's a particular actor or set. Maybe it's the way the light doesn't quite work in a particular scene. Albeit something small, usually there's a tip-off of some sort. In Pitch People, I almost forgot I was watching an independent documentary. The quality of the editing, letting the Pitch People tell the story themselves, it really drew me in. Perhaps that's the allure...these actors have had the hardest acting job of all time, Pitch Sales, for as long as some of them can remember, no wonder sitting in front of a camera and just talking is so easy for them.
I know how difficult it might be for a documentary these days to make a successful theatrical run. I think the last one I saw really hang on locally was "Hands on a Hard Body," which I will refrain from commenting on, but people here in Austin at least liked it enough to keep it in the theatre a very long time. I think an incredibly high-quality production such as this would do just as well, if not better...heck, it's got Ed McMahon in it, for goodness sakes!! That having been said, not being familiar with this sort of transaction, perhaps a more profitable or viable option would be to pursue video or cable distribution through channels that play documentary-style productions, such as the Discovery or History channels. I could really see this film played regularly, with the video sold afterward on either one of the afore-mentioned channels.
Some film makers or readers may be offended by this, because it removes a film from the format of the theatre. Then again, when starting out, sometimes concessions have to be made if societally, a movie you have painstakingly created may not be accepted by the public because of simply what type of movie it is.
Sad state we live in...but readers, let's try to change that. Widen your perceptions, go see something you maybe wouldn't normally see. You may be very surprised.
For further information on PITCH PEOPLE, contact SJPL films at firstname.lastname@example.org
Our next film gem is the 27-minute JUMP BLUES, directed by John Akin, Jr. and written by Meghan Williams. Some of you are saying right now, well, he's down to the short films, I'll stop reading now. Please continue. A short film is incredibly important for a developing director's career. It lets an audience see a style in a quick, concise way.
One of my favorite quotes of Tim Burton is "The most important thing you can do as a director is a short film." I sincerely believe this is true. Look at Burtons short film "Vincent," what do you think got him the director's spot on PEE-WEE'S BIG ADVENTURE? One does not have to make a 2 hour epic to show talent. Making a short film is not being lazy or cutting yourself short. I think it's just as difficult, creating a mood and characters and setting, all within 10-30 minutes.
That is something Jump Blues does very well. It's a well-crafted film about a girl named Carter and her dance partner D. Carter is an incredibly well-developed character for the film's length. A lot of this is due to the nonverbal actions shown through the course of the film, which are well acted by the writer of the film, Meghan Williams. Have you ever been sitting in your office or home and heard the rhythm of a copy machine or dishwasher and felt the need to tap your feet or make up a tune and hum along?
Well, that's the type of girl Carter is. Thusly, it's shown that dance is very important to her. Also along with that, it's shown that D, her dance partner is very important to her as well. Another point to the film is the relationship between these two characters. It'a a completely nonsexual partnership, but a melding of these personalities in dance. The idea is that you get used to the way you dance with someone, and maybe, just maybe if they leave you, you may never be able to dance again. That's what Carter has to deal with in Jump Blues. The possibility of losing D arises, even as D is pushing her do perform bigger and bolder steps. Should she go along with D to the bitter end, or cut things of and start anew?
Taken both on face value and metaphorically, this film says a lot about relationships. How they work, how in so many ways people evaluate the desire to leave someone or stay with someone, if the relationship isn't what you want. It made me think a lot about people I've cared for in the past, and how they have moved on. I recollected how I felt when I first discovered they were "looking for someone else." It's not easy trying to deal with that, even if, as in Jump Blues, that person is only your dance partner. For more information on Jump Blues, please email email@example.com.
THE TWO DAYS IN-BETWEEN
Our last, but certainly not least bit of semi-weekly rich stuff is THE TWO DAYS IN-BETWEEN directed by Gilley Hebert. I understand that THE TWO DAYS, a 20 minute action thriller, was shot on approximately $2000 made completely by Gilley delivering pizza. This film really makes one realize what can be done with dedication and talent.
For a low-budget independent filmmaker, I understand there's only so much one can control...but the pacing of editing IS one thing you can control, it is very important. That's perhaps one of the things that really stood out about THE TWO DAYS. It grabbed me from the very beginning, and the pacing kept me and my assistants, Chunk and Brand, glued to the TV.
THE TWO DAYS IN-BETWEEN is the story of Johnny, his girlfriend Daisy, his prostitute niece Betty, and the dead man in his trunk. Interested already?
I don't want to say too much about the plot in THE TWO DAYS in-between, mainly because some plot points remain to be answered. See, Two Days is the second chapter to two other projects in the works, Feelin' Groovy (the sequel) and a yet to be named Prequel. There are plot threads that will extend in both directions that tie together in Two Days. They are threads that you WILL want to see played out.
Mainly, Johnny is trying to get back at Henry Banks because of a reason only hinted to in a flashback/dream sequence. While doing that, he has to save his niece, Betty Lou, from a life of prostitution on the streets. See, Betty's pretty determined she's selling to the highest bidder, regardless of what Johnny says. Johnny gets her to the Sugar Shack, where she can do her thing and at least have some sort of "house" to protect her. Throughout, his girlfriend Daisy will help him. Devoted to Johnny, she'll do whatever it takes to put his mind at ease...even if that means seducing another man.
Think Quentin Tarantino meets Russ Meyer, with a bit of Scorcese thrown in for good measure.
One of my favorite scenes in this is Johnny and Daisy lying in bed, just talking. It would have been so easy just to hang a camera above them or position it from one angle, and let them talk. Gilley refuses to do that, and that's what I like. He keeps the camera moving naturally, enough to keep the attention of the audience, but no so fast as to lose you.
Peppered with a little skin and colorful language, The Two Days In-Between is a short film worthy of any collection. More importantly, it speaks volumes about what is to come from the mind of Mr. Hebert, and I for one am looking excitedly forward to "Feelin' Groovy."
Please email Gilley and his production company, Maximum Entertainment at firstname.lastname@example.org
That's it for Mouth this week.
Hopefully the next time the Mouth Speaks...it will be about YOUR film! Keep those films coming, I have a big debt to work off with Harry and the film community...I won't be happy 'til the entire Goondocks is filled with videotapes!