Thursday, October 08, 2009

London 8: Day 6 - Catch Up

Twelve hours later, I woke up. I had no class to teach today, but I do have to be on the pitch panel tonight. The sleep was wonderful... though I did not dream. I feel so much better that yesterday...

In Costa Coffee I did a read-through of my article, found a bad part, completely rewrote it, then found a Starbucks with free wifi and sent it to the magazine editor... and checked my e-mail where the editor from Script was wondering if I could deliver my article early... like, the day I leave London. Um, maybe.

Then I went to the cinema, and watched a shorts program with Janet...


SEEDS - written a directed by a fellow named Attila who I met at one of my classes who looks familiar, did he take my class in Vancouver? The film opens on an extreme close up of a man’s eyeball, then pulls back to show a man standing in a very long line at an indoor farmer’s market. We spend a little time with everyone in line, as they wait... and come back to many people as they continue to wait. The flaw in the film is that the people waiting in line do now talk about what they are waiting for - they just have time-killer conversations. This removes any build up there might be and makes the waiting very boring on film. Eventually our man gets to the front of the line where a woman is selling Magic Seeds, 2 for $10. He pays his $10, but asks what the seeds do. Well, they expand your mind, she says. He goes outside, sits down and opens his package... and there are two regular apple seeds, He eats them, and nothing happens. Goes back inside to complain, tells the woman he could easily have bought a dozen apples for $10 and had hundreds of seeds... and she tells him the seeds work because he hadn’t thought of that before. Back to the eyeball.

WRAP - There are many shorts that are technically well made but completely lack a story, tell a dull story, or have a story that makes no sense at all. This is one of those. A film crew prepares to shoot a scene and are waiting on an actor. The actor shows, they send him to costume and wardrobe, then to the room they are shooting in - a bathroom. They kill the actor, cut up the body in the tub (not shown) and put body parts in plastic bags... and as crew members are carrying out the bags the next actor shows up and is sent to wardrobe and make up. The end. Janet and I both said WTF?

ADELAIDE - My favorite of the bunch. Opens with a young woman calling an ambulance to report a woman having a drug reaction, and she goes into detail about the allergies this woman has and her medical history... and after she hangs up she injects herself and passes out... and the ambulance comes. She wakes up in a hospital, where we get more of her medical history - she is the ultimate hypochondriac, and her body is criss-crossed with scars from various operations that proved unnecessary (appendix removal, etc). When she goes to a pharmacy to buy all kinds of crazy things (a neck brace, etc) plus some prescribed drugs from her hospital stay, the shy young pharmacist has a conversation with her about the drugs... and it’s love! They begin dating. He has always wanted to be an EMT, and has a CPR dummy he practices on. Finally, when she’s sure that this is *the* man for her, she sends herself into anaphylactic shock and he saves her life and they live happily ever after. Loopy and strange and oddly romantic.

STALK MUCH - A guy visits his shrink for stalking, and we go through the stages of the death of a relationship, finally ending with revenge... and he goes to his ex’s apartment with a brick to throw through her window. Where he spots a woman with a brick screaming at another apartment window... and it’s a love match. The end. I liked it.

COFFIN CALL - Janet knew the filmmaker. A funeral, the widow and best friend of the departed talk in the graveyard afterwards when the widow’s phone rings... it’s her husband! He was buried with his cell phone, and calls to say he isn’t quite dead yet. When the Priest comes up to give his condolences and goose the window (with a loud honking noise as her grabs her butt) the phone rings again and again and the husband wants to be dug up, but that would put an end to the potential relationship between widow and best friend. This seemed like a bad Benny Hill skit - way way too broad to ever be funny. Trying too hard for a laugh - but really without anything funny. Well shot, though, and the actress who played the widow (who was at the screening) is attractive in an unusual way.

CRAZY HANDS - Silent film (actually music and sounds) - a guy wakes up and his hands are just crazy - they move around and he can not stop them. Difficult to drink his morning coffee - it ends up all over the place! His hands will not stop moving! He meets his girlfriend and they try to have a little petting party - but his hands are crazy! They won’t feel her up! They are spastic! Neither is happy about this, and the date has gone wrong. He goes to a pub to drink away his problems... and can’t hold his beer! It splashes all over the place before he gets much more than a sip! He sits down on a bench in the pub... and it’s a piano bench... turns around, and his hands play an amazing complicated classical piano concerto. Ah, that’s what they were meant to do! The end. I really liked this one and thought the actor - who looked strange - was really good.

HOW TO STOP A MAN FROM COMMITTING SUICIDE - God has three chances to stop a broken hearted young man from standing in front of a speeding train to end his life. God narrates as he tries to stop the man with a topless woman and other dopey methods, each time failing. Last time the woman who broke his heart shows up at the train tracks to stop him, they run to each other... and a train hits both of them. Not as amusing as they thought it was. This also seemed like a group of people with film equipment and no story, who came up with this.

SHAKESPEARE, TARANTINO AND THE MITCHELL BROTHERS - Actors should not be allowed to write screenplays. Yes, there are a handful of actors who have written good scripts, but many many more like this. An actor goes to an audition and the theatre director has odd requests and the actor is a stuck up serious actor and... well, we watch them discuss the audition process. Probably funny to actors who audition a lot, not funny to the other 99.99999999999999999999% of the people who go to the cinema.

THE OLD SONG AND DANCE - One thing about movies, they often reflect the filmmaker, which is a good thing unless the filmmaker has serious issues and you worry that they are sitting next to you in the cinema instead of in a maximum security mental facility where they belong. Costumes and set from the 1920s, heavily made up man and woman enter and go to a sofa, man clicks on the Victrola, and a song plays about how men only want one thing. The man lipsyncs the song with over the top flourishes as he tries everything to get in the woman’s pants while the devil looks on. The man gets violent with the woman, has his way, and both he and the devil are happy as the song on the Victrola ends. Um, WTF? I often say writing a screenplay is cheap therapy, but this went over the line into someone who really needs therapy. Strange looking film, too.

Those were the shorts... I ended up grabbing a sandwich again and then headed to the Raindance Café in the bunker under the record store for the pitch panel. That will be the next blog entry.

SCRIPT SECRETS: LONDON - October 10 & 11, 2009 - BIG IDEA class, using GHOST as our primary example and it includes the new Thematic element!

- Bill

TODAY'S SCRIPT TIP: Screenplays Are Like Newspaper Stories and THE SHIPPING NEWS.
Yesterday's Dinner: Chicken and bacon sandwich from EATS.

1 comment:

martinb said...

Funny you should mention short movies. I just saw a longish one (60 min) yesterday. I walked 20 min through a drizzle to get to the theater to support this local film production, and, well, it was one of those with virtually no story.

It was a mockumentary of a bunch of people who all live in the same apartment block telling their stories to an off-screen interviewer. There was no development and no finale. Just a bunch of actors portraying well-known stereotypes (the gay, the dyke, the retard, etc etc). I'm sure they were buddies of the director who told them, "Just improvise, we'll edit it into some sort of story."

Um, no. I'm sure the cast and crew loved it at the launch party with a couple of sherries under their belts, but those of us who actually paid money to see it won't be supporting local productions again until the memory of this borefest has faded.

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