Thursday, October 05, 2006

Un film de









I'm off to San Francisco for a long weekend. Travelogue to follow next week. Assuming the Bates Motel has internet access I'll continue to post this weekend.

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My daughter has to come up with a couple of screenplay ideas for her writing class at Northwestern. It takes me back to my college days and all those terrible student films.

From what I’ve seen of recent student films, nothing has changed. This is a typical student film:

MUSIC UP: “Lips of an Angel” by Hinder.

FADE IN:

EXT. OIL FIELD – DAY
A well pumps oil. Forty or fifty times.

SMASH CUT TO:

INT. KITCHEN -- NIGHT
CLOSE ON a knife.

SMASH CUT TO:

EXT. PARK – DAY
Children frolic and play.

SMASH CUT TO:

INT. BATHROOM – NIGHT
A girl is getting stabbed repeatedly. Forty, fifty times.

SMASH CUT TO:

INT. BEDROOM – NIGHT

CLOSE UP of cellphone as it RINGS and RINGS and RINGS. Forty, fifty times.

SMASH CUT TO:

INT. BATHROOM – NIGHT

A river of blood.

SMASH CUT TO:

EXT. NEW JERSEY EXPRESSWAY – DAY

A teddy bear is SQUASHED by a truck. ZOOM in on the bear remains.

FADE OUT. THE END

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Okay, first off, there is no such thing as a SMASH CUT!!! A cut is a cut. How can you cut from one frame to another any faster?

Secondly, why do all these student masterpieces have to be soooo pretentious, ALWAYS feature a murder, rely on symbolism that only they get, and opt for an ear splitting soundtrack? God forbid, a student wanted to do something really different, something wildly controversial, and by that I mean (dare I say it?) “commercial”! Maybe prepare an actual script, include a story, do a comedy. Would the department stone them? I mean, it’s fine to be an “artist” but really, it’s okay not to bore the shit out of an audience.

When I was a student at UCLA the big thing was “the message.” Every film had to have a “message”. It didn’t have to be decipherable, just deep. Like me, my friend, Tom thought this was bullshit. But he knew how to play the game. Here’s his account of his student film.

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Yes, the 8mm masterwork was "Meat, a film by Chuck Roast." It was an artsy, hand held, quick cut look at America's obsession with eating animal flesh: Hanging carcasses, muddy feed lots, Dad bringing home McBurgers to his glowing family all sitting expectantly at the table, including the dog. It ended with a mound of hamburger exploding in Antonioni-style slow motion.

The film students and faculty loved it and it earned an A.

I think it took about 8 days to make. Lab work by Sav-On.

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So my advice to all you future Scorceses about to run off and make your brilliant senior project film, ask yourself the following question: “Where’s the beef?”

8 comments:

The Curmudgeon said...

There's got to be a message, eh?

The current issue of the history magazine, American Heritage, is devoted to a review of the year 1964. Not history, I might say, but current events. But I digress.

In the lead article there's a reference to the Beatles arriving in America and their initial press conference at JFK. When Paul McCartney said, "We have a message," the press corps quieted, wondering what it might be. Deep? Artistic? Mystical?

Not exactly. "Our message is: Buy more Beatles records," McCartney said.

Celebrity voice impersonated. Article paraphrased.

zach said...

If I never see another 'homage' to Eraserhead, I will be a very happy man.

Josh Daws said...

You forgot the opening of the film where the killer wakes up, gets out of bed, gets dressed, brushes his teeth, shaves, combs his hair, trims his nose hair, pops a pimple, flosses his teeth, etc.

Josh

Oswaldo Poupard said...

How about a tight shot of a wilted flower at the end... for about two minutes?

Milehimama said...

I saw one that had a homely man in the bathroom. Turns on the faucet. The bathroom fills with water - to the ceiling, then bursts through the door. He rides the torrent into the street, bumps into a pretty girl, and kisses her. It was a silent film (really.)
And while the class went on, and on, and on about baptism and renewal and regeneration, all I could think of was the mildew. The mold in the walls, on the stairs, in the carpet! He'll never get that shower curtain clean now. And I think he did floss his teeth while waiting for the flood.

poor man said...

This is where I went wrong. I did a SMASHCUT to a Cabbage Patch Doll being run over by minivan driven by...wait for it...the ringing cellphone!!!!!!

As an actor (earlier in my career), I've had the fortunate experience to be in a couple of these films. Nothing screams opportunity like no-pay, artsy, student films. At some point the "it'll be good for your reel" argument fails to be all that tempting.

Scott E. Amundson said...

That's so funny. It just goes to prove the old truism, One man's commercial is another man's student film.

If you really want to see something with a DEEP MESSAGE, check out www.TNAOBB.blogspot.com My art is strong!

Dwacon said...

My student film didn't have a script.

Oh, wait... I guess that's like the girl that climbed up the telephone pole saying, "Joke's on you... I'm not wearing any panties."

Hmm... now THAT would be a good idea for a film.

SMASH CUT -- Girl up pole without panties.

No, wait... that was the idea behind my buddy's bachelor party.