Friday, May 21, 2010

Rant: ultra-low-budget movies

I have a fondness for ultra-low-budget movies.
Prime examples:
Blair Witch Project - Actors, with just camping equipment and mundane audio/video equipment (which was part of the story), were actually sent into the woods for 5 days, and were given cryptic directions they would find on scraps of paper lying in their path. They really did get tired, dirty, stressed & scared.
Cube - Aside from a handful of simple digital effects shots, the entire film was shot in a 10’ cube. Change of “location” was achieved by color filters on lights.
El Mariachi - Made for $7000, raised by the director/producer submitting to paid medical experimentation. Lighting was just two cheap lamps cleverly arranged. Extras included two local hostile-to-the-production talk-show hosts won over by giving them cameos. DVD includes fascinating 10-minute lesson on cutting corners.
Done right, the viewer has no clue there was practically no budget – because the story, directing and acting were right.
El Mariachi’s director, Robert Rodriguez, went on to become a major Hollywood player. He still does all post-production work in his garage.
All too often, when you pare a big-budget production down to the story and its truth, there’s nothing there to convey. If you don’t have a story to tell, but have to tell one, money can still buy fame.
I’d love to do a series of shorts that take the start of blockbuster movies, then apply a moment of realism which abruptly cuts the film short. There’s a 007 film that starts where Bond jumps off a cliff to freefall into an uncontrolled airplane, then a long blind pause reveals he has succeeded in catching up & taking control before it crashes; I’d edit in a fireball, then roll credits (backed by a slow zoom in on a dark smear on the canyon floor). Likewise a slasher movie where the first would-be victim grabs a 12-gauge, performs the indicated response, then resumes the night of fun & frolic with the others.
Edit: xkcd wins...

Tangent to the tangent:
The high point of Executive Decision was 20 minutes in, where a big-name actor abruptly falls out of a plane and is not seen again.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Blatant Plug: The Survivalist Blog

M.D. Creekmore over at the The Survivalist Blog – a survival blog dedicated to helping others prepare for and survive disaster – with articles on bug out bag contents, survival knife choices and a wealth of other survival information is giving away a Go Berkey Water Filter System (a $139.00 value)! To enter, you just have to post about it on your blog. This is my entry. Visit The Survivalist Blog for the details.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Pun: 5th of May

Nearly 100 years ago, Mexicans discovered a European condiment made of whipped oil & eggs. They went crazy over  it, and would not be satisfied with homemade Central American versions of it – no, they demanded the real thing from Great Britain. Arrangements were made for a large shipment of this smooth, white delicacy via the Titanic.
Well, you know what happened to that shipment.
News of the loss of the huge and much-anticipated cargo reached Mexico on May 5. Enthusiastic expectation turned to horror and lament, so great that every year the nation remembers the loss with ... Sinko de Mayo.