Friday, January 4, 2008

RePost: Perspective Changing Movies

This is a post from my short story musings blog from my last film.

With the movie on hiatus until august/when we find a useable deck, I decided to convert this into a sort of behind the scenes of my mind for the month. It will be back up to a production blog with other tidbits soon, don't worry.

But, I wanted to talk about independent film for a moment. A little background on me first. Surprisingly, I don't go to the movies much. Everyone will say the same thing to me when I tell them...don't you love movies? You make them. To them I say, yes I do love movies. I deeply, passionately, and unabashedly love movies. I love them enough to know when NOT to go to the movies. I know enough to know when NOT to get my heart broken.

In all the time I've studied film, I can usually tell a good movie from a bad one, in any genre. And, to be honest, there may be 4-5 movies a year that really spark my interest. I'm not one who only likes independent films or will only go watch blockbusters. Instead, I have to feel it. The soul of the film has to speak to me. If I really connect with a film, then I'll go. But, that so rarely happens.

Usually, I will find one film a year that I can really get behind. A film that "restores my faith in filmmaking". I'm always felt that while studio flicks are going for commercial appeal, independents are trying to be obtuse, gritty, and "nichey". But, there's usually one film a year that can break through all of that, and just be honest. A movie that doesn't need hollywood money or indy "cred" to tell a story. They just take an amazing concept and tell it better than anyone could at that moment in history.

Last year, that movie was "Little Miss Sunshine" for me. I was down pretty low after directing two short films I wasn't happy with. I was broke, broken, and depressed. My fiance couldn't pull me out of it, friends couldn't pull me out. I was simply miserable. I was seriously considering ditching film and going into something safe, like finance. But, "Little Miss Sunshine" turned me around and gave me the second wind.

This year, I just finished my first feature project. I've been rejected from two festivals from my short. I have yet to see one second of digitized footage, and I'm not quite sure what my next step is. Once again, I was in limbo. Then, I saw "Waitress" and it all turned around again.

I know its cliche to talk about "Waitress". Everyone loves it, raves about it, and talks about the tragedy. In will admit, I went into the movie with all of this information. I did not think it could possible meet the expectations others held for it. But, every since I heard about it the first time, I wanted to see it. I didn't even have to see a preview. I didn't even have to hear about Adrienne Shelley. I don't know what compelled me to see it. But, the moment I heard about it the first time, I knew I had to see it.

That visceral feeling is what I remember drew me to film in the first place. The feeling of not just wanting to see a movie, but needing to see it. It sort of tugs at your gut strings until you can't let up and you cave. It almost never happens to me. Sure, I would like to see a lot of movies that come out, but I don't usually have that gut reaction. In fact, I often go through the movie listing, hoping for one to tug at me, but hardly anything does.

What I loved most about it was the simplicity of the film. there were very few camera angles, but each was so meticulously crafted it looked amazing. The acting was subtle, understated, but still powerful. Even though each pie she made was innovative, the humble thought of the pie is so simple, and pure. The story was so relatable, even though I've never been through anything similar. It really grounded me.

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