Tuesday, June 19, 2007

On the Lot Take 3

So I'm still committed to rambling about On The Lot each week, despite the fact that it has nothing good enough to ramble about. They've made it a writing competition and as far as I can tell, it's not anything like what was advertised. Srsly Fox, you dropped this one on it's head and I'm going to be surprised if it survives.

I hope the Project-Top-Shear-Designer people get around to doing a show about filmmaking. They might manage to make one where the challenges are challenging and actually judge each contestant against each other by giving them an even playing field.

And maybe they'll have judges who can give honest critique rather than being all good or all bad. Because you can tell that this episode they were told to be bitchier, and they delivered. Badly. If you're going to be mean, be mean like Nina. Nina knows how to dish it out and say "I'm sorry, but you suck and here's why." Rather than:
"To succeed in this business as a woman, you have to be great. This was really good."



So this was pretty cute, and well done. I like how many directors are making more silent films to make sure they don't have to worry about writing. Seeing as how DIRECTORS AREN'T WRITERS. Come on people, they're not.

Anyway. Since I've known a lot of custodial staff-types, I really liked this film. I thought it was a little...lackluster maybe, since I forgot it existed until I looked at the list again. It didn't really stand out THAT much, but it was good and probably one of the best offerings of the evening. It had some really fantastic moments in it, and I think the over the top sliding on the floor was comical and fitting.

I do wonder who bought the hamburgers, but that doesn't matter that much I guess.

Love At First Shot

This is the one with the WoW joke, so it automatically wins in my mind. Honestly, it was also cliche, but it was memorable for me. I think it was well done, and amusing. I think Cupid could have been a bigger character, that's true, but for the most part it worked.

It was okay, again. But it does show the guy is competant. The problem is that the way the judges critiqued it, they talked about the WRITING. If they aren't handing these men and women scripts, then they need to stop talking about the content and talk about how it's filmed. Oi.

Also, Ms. Fisher, Cupid WAS wearing a diaper. What movie were you watching?

aka Slut Mom

Television Without Pity wins for their description of Shira-Lee: "Shira-Lee is next, looking like Linda Blair crossed with a crazier-eyed version of Linda Blair."

Okay, I'm sure that this makes me an evil person, but if this was Project Top Shear Designer, then SOME judge would have looked up and said "I know you said your son took direction well, but that means you failed as a director because he was terrible."

I'm sorry, he was, he was bad. For the most part, he didn't need to be that good. But he had ONE line he absolutly had to deliver perfectly because it was the crux of the story and he bombed it. As far as I can tell he bombed it SO bad that they couldn't even show him deliver it on the screen, which ABSOLUTLY should have been there, not a reaction shot.

In other words: massive failure in directing. None of the other films (aside from Kenny, who is so pretenious I can't describe it) had such a glaring error and not a single judge mentioned it because they were too busy CRITIQUING THE WRITING.

When the son says "Who are they, I'll find them" you HAVE to have his face, because we have to understand why the woman freaks out so much. If you can't have him because you want her reaction, a two shot would be fine, but having that line, the only powerful line he delivers the entire time, be off screen? It was a completly wrong decision, probably neccessitated by bad casting. All of this being BAD DIRECTING.

And, to critique the writing, I didn't like this short anyway. Something was just off about it and I spent the entire time not really caring. The only amusing thing was the woman running in her silly toboggan and puffy coat, which was the most memorable image of the entire night. Shame it didn't go in a movie that succeeded elsewhere.

Dance With The Devil

I hated this film. I wanted to like it because so far, I liked Marty Martin and I thought the judges were extremly unfair (as is Television Without Pity) by harping on his trailer in the last assignment.

I'll say it very clearly and in bold: A trailer for a film that doesn't exist IS a short creative work AKA a short film. Thus his previous entry DID complete the assignment in a memorable, inventive, and unique way.

Also: KENNY ALSO DID A TRAILER. More accuratly, Kenny did a craptastic midnight on cable access commercial. Yet nobody mentions that because it was SO out there and followed no conventions, so I guess people can admit it's a short film? It's dumb.

But anyway: Marty should have been one of the top contenders. He should not be any more. Why?

Because this movie showed almost no departure from the style and substance of the other two pieces he's contributed to. First project with the group? A story about an assassin or something with wacky lighting and sparse dialogue and people that know they're too damn cool for you.

Second: four goofballs try to rob somebody, all under a green filter. The characters are over the top, and since it's comedic, they're fun and interesting.

Third: Again with the green filter (don't do the same thing twice dude) and then you throw in some wacky subtitles that held no point except to make it look like a trailer, which after they overreacted to his trailer he should distance himself from. The subtitles were the kicker for me, that was so much...

It's like those big budget filmmakers who want to think they're "indy" by doing quirky strange things that have no point. Things that have no point do nothing but detract from your skill and hide what you can and can't do, which I guess is effective if you're lame.

Anyway. His story could have been interesting if I hadn't seen it a million times before. The acting was really good, but again it was old news.

So the only thing that he had to go on and talk about was his "style" and when Carrie Fisher rightly told him that perhaps he needs to balance style and substance, he blew up at her and was a complete egotistical ass. She had a valid point, he could have said "That's true, but I think that the substance was there, I'm just a very stylized director" but instead he was a jerk.

Take criticism well. Rule #1. His entire film was riding on two things: a green filter and some subtitles. But they had no reason for being there since the green filter was there last week...

This makes me think Mr. Martin either doesn't know how to white balance, or just enjoys making things look moldy. If he wasn't in a group with Kenny, I would say he should go home because of lack of imagination hiding behind being different.

Of course, I think he's going to be a favorite and go really far because it's not that he's BAD. I just dislike him for the same reason I disliked Santino or Laura on Project Runway. I want new things each week, I want to see what else people can do.

Edge on the End

We all know I don't like Kenny. At all. I can't describe how much he needs to take a step back and stop being "different just like everybody else."

The stuff that he's submitting to this competition, that is supposed to be the cream of a crop of thousands, is terrible. It's the kind of emo strangness kids make in high school these days. It had no point, and once again he committed what is my new cardinal sin of movies: he had to explain something because it wasn't in the movie.

If you don't make it clear in the film that the father was an alchoholic then it either a-isn't important (and that happens, really), or b-can't be considered as part of the plot. It wasn't clear enough, so it doesn't count.

I can't even bring myself to critique this as a piece of short film. If I was shown this in my intro to film class, where I saw short works that were much better than this, and was asked to talk about it, I would say that I felt it went on about twice as long as it needed to unless more was introduced (different images, instead of the same ones repeated) and that I felt that it needed a stronger script to portray what is a really movie and important subject. I don't know how I would have found a good comment to add besides that the subject matter was interesting, which it really isn't. I mean, it can be, but honestly, why were we treated to five films that I could find about three big name examples of their plots done better?

Please, America. I hope you cut Kenny so that he might realize that he does NEED to be given some formal training so that he could stop being intro to film and start being interesting. He might actually have some talent under all that "different like everybody else."

I think we should rename Kenny's film from "Edge on the End" to "Cheer Up Emo Kid" and mock it appropriatly. I realize it could have been worse, and it showed SOME skill. But it showed little more skill than I've seen on YouTube.

Actually, that's what it was. It was a YouTube video. And it's on what is supposed to be a NATIONAL comeptition!

Okay, I'm done.

On the Lot Take 2

This is my crosspost of the second Film Premiere Episode, where they randomly went down to doing five films a week. Oh you wacky producers, what are you thinking?

I think On The Lot needs to decide what it wants to do and who it wants to be, because the show is seriously floudering and I want them to last enough seasons for either me to make my big break and get a job in filmmaking or be on it, whichever comes first.

Broken Pipe Dreams
This movie wins for best title of the night, don't ask me why, but it does. I like it, so there you go.

I think that it does a good job taking movie conventions and turning them every so slightly on their head, like cutting the blue or red "wire" and the end where it's so Shawshank Redemption-like it's almost not funny.

But sadly, it had plot holes which made me grumpy. For one, the fish was flopping in his hand at the end (maybe it wasn't, but it seemed to be) and he didn't freak out and get him to water. He gets his fish back, and he doesn't rescue it? Second, I agree with Zoe, he looks like he's following a sprinkler system pipe, not a sewer pipe. Mostly because he is. And honestly, I know that to make this short film he couldn't have really dealt with sewer pipe, but you know, I can only suspend disbelief so much, I can only go "Oh, who cares!" so often. Plumbing doesn't work like that, and the story wasn't so phenomenal that I didn't care.

The camera work was good, the performance from the actor was good. I really wish this was more a directing competition rather than a writing one though.

Teri (Blind Date)

This really...well, I agree with Carrie Fisher (I think it was her) there was nothing new in it. Nothing really making me go "Oh wow, that was funny."

I disagree with her on one thing. She said a murderer should be the last punchline because the worst thing couldn't be a guy showing up. Actually, to a lot of guys I've known in my day, it would be the worst thing. Don't ask me, I don't get it.

Anyway. There wasn't really anything revolutionary in the shots, they were straight on mid-shots (why can't I remember the technical term?) and you went back and forth. The performances were good, but they were stereotypes and stereotypes are easy to play.

It was okay. But really, if I'm being honest with myself, it was the weakest of the night because it was just more of what's been done.

Also, Mr. Marshall, this is a man desperate for love. I thought you said that was a women's issue, hmmmm?

The First Time I Met the Finklesteins

First off, are you blatantly ripping off Meet the Parents? I mean, I haven't seen either of those movies, but your title just says it right there, doesn't it?

Secondly, Michael Bay is now my hero for saying what I was thinking. None of those jokes were funny, they were groan humor, they were "OMG, she went there" jokes. And the scene where the son suddenly blows up (which hasn't been in his character) and says "Sure, I'll cure cancer, and AIDS, and Diabetes" was just...I can't even describe how much that entire line made me want to turn off the tv. If it had been a movie, I would have changed the channel.

I think her lack of wide shots and establishing shots was because she had a poorly chosen set. She seemed to be filming in a friend's split level house, and you can't get a good wide-shot from that in most cases. But she should have tried really, or picked a different set. Or given us a reason for the closeness. Or just hung a lantern on it and said "Sorry it's so cramped."

The only amusing part was at the end when the son said "Drive safe. Most parents would say drive safe." Otherwise, the jokes were just...lame.

Dough: The Musical

This was well shot, and very well acted, and phenomenally well written. I say this because I can't rhyme that well with two months to work on it, and he had five days.

They picked good sets, they decorated them well. The actors did need to look at each other more and have more chemistry as Garry Marshall pointed out. But I think it was technically very well done, and having just watched Bride and Prejudice this weekend, it amused me because it was a musical. I liked how the man and woman never actually were talking about the same thing, even in the end. She didn't suddenly notice how cute he was, and he didn't suddenly say "Well, I guess I'll just hire her."

Overall, one of the better ones. Honestly, I think this and Sam's were the only ones that impressed me that much.

Laughing Out Loud: A Comic Journey:

I know this director has a background in documentary, or at least I think they mentioned that before. So was this a documentary or a short fiction film? This is vitally important because I have two completly different critiques for it.

Documentary: Well shot, very visual and interesting. The subject needed to be coaxed a little more, driven to give a few more non-cliche moments and a little more heartache (I know being followed around and being called a homo is no picnic, but I know people who were treated MUCH worse in school so it didn't raise my sympathy enough). We needed him to be more, new, different. But he was heartfelt, and he believed what he said. The only funny line, and it was the funniest of the night, was when he was trying on costumes and said he looked like a terrorist and followed it with "What am I going to do, make an axis of evil float for the pride parade?"

Short fiction film: This movie was terrible. I know it's not a writing competition, but if it was, this writing was flat out cliche, it was trite, it was said and done so many times I couldn't be bothered to care. The only thing that could elevate it would be if it was real (see critique above). Visually, it was well done but needed a few more identifying shots. She was worried we wouldn't identify with him, but most of the shots we got were ECU eyelid or far out. Where were the shots where we felt very involved with him, close to him and what he was saying? There weren't enough. If this was fiction though, the actor was phenomenal. If that wasn't his life story, then he's a really really good actor and she should hire him for everything she does, because he took a tried and boring script and made it look real, he felt it. Go method acting.

But like I said, if it was fiction, it was written so poorly and was such an overdone concept that I can't be bothered to like it. If it was documentary, then it was a fine example, though she should have, as a director, gotten a few more stories out of him, things to make him a unique subject worthy of our study.

Yup, there you go. Overall, some decent directing but no stand-outs. I'm hoping one of the women go home. I know, I know, I'm a horrible traitor to my gender.

You know why? Because every time somebody talks about a woman director as a "woman director" they're pinning a stigma on her, they're damning her with faint praise. She's a DIRECTOR. She can be a good or a bad DIRECTOR. She might have a different viewpoint or be good or bad at things because of her gender. But quite frankly each person and each experience is unique enough that everybody has a unique viewpoint, it's not gender based.

I fully believe that it's only when we're BLIND to gender or race that we can truly say we've gotten rid of sexism or racism. Because the fact is every time somebody singles out women, for good or bad, they're still singling them out.

We're all people. We should all be treated as human beings.

And quite frankly, the last girl said that being a woman director she has the deck stacked against her, and that attitude is not good enough. Go get some confidence. Go realize that you as a person have talent, and that you can make it on that talent and hard work if you don't let people stomp you down.

Don't be a woman filmmaker. Be a filmmaker. THAT is what this gender needs to prove we're just as good, to prove that we're not good "in spite of" we're not good "because of." We're just good.

On the Lot

I'm going to crosspost my opinion pieces regarding On The Lot to my blog here, in case one day I actually get some traffice. I'm going be posting here more frequently, because I'd really like to continue to hone my skills as a reviewer.

So here is the very very long review of the first film premiere episode. It's extremly long because there were 13 films to be reviewed.

Okay, I'm so glad I haven't ever watched American Idol, because if it's in this format egads, this is just extra bs every thirty seconds.

Could Gary Marshall NOT talk about Women Filmmakers for about thirty seconds?

Also, bodily functions do not automatically equal comedy. Kthnx.

I agree with The Soup that Carrie Fisher needs to learn how to be a little more rude and open about not liking things.

THERE ARE WOMEN IN THE FILM INDUSTRY ALREADY STOP ACTING LIKE THERE AREN'T. Okay, so it's not 51% women directors. Fine. But it doesn't need to be for us to step back and recognize that there are a lot of really fantastic female directors in the world, and the more we act like there aren't the more disservice we're doing to people like Penny Marshall, Nora Ephron, and the women who don't just do romantic comedies but my brain can't supply their names right now. Recognizing that we have further to go is fine, but don't forget what we have. What also bothers me: women are PEOPLE, men are PEOPLE. I am not something specific because I'm a woman, I don't have a very certain point of view because I'm female. I have a point of view because I'm ME.

You can watch the movies at their website and you can actually watch the ep there now.

Dance Man

I thought this was really cute, and he got the actor to be fun and uninhibited. He also had almost no dialogue except a voiceover, which he used to his advantage by making it a framing technique and using it throughout. There sadly wasn't much to distinguish it though, but the idea was pretty unique so yay. He's one of my favorites.

Deliver Me

Honestly, I'm not surprised she was voted off. This was nothing all that new or memorable (haven't they already done the business-mogul mom a million times?) and because I think everybody understands that the drugs they give you don't really make you have fantasies about asian women doing your nails. It was just there, when it needed to be more.

Spaced Out

, do not watch this short, since it features vomiting space aliens. And that is the tie it all up tagline of this film: barfing space aliens. The aliens themselves were amusing, and I don't know where else he could have gone with it. But he had this great set up, drunken alien muppets...and went for projectile vomit. I couldn't actually watch it to see if the cinematography was good, I was too disgusted.

Wack Alley Cab

He had to explain his premise and it had things in his explenation that had nothing to represent them in the film. This is a fail. I can't even get into how much I disliked it and wished he had been eliminated. He's way too self-important. I've said more about how I feel about the odd color changes he did, and I hope he ditches that idea.

Bus #1

Srsly, urine. This is a short film about urine. I know everybody has to pee sometimes and that being on a long bus ride is difficult. But it had no real payoff and it just...okay, so she peed in a cup. What's funny?

The Big Bad Heist
"Ya'll didn't say nothing about no ninjas..."
I'm also with Gary Marshall: At least there was no barfing or peeing. I actually really loved this, and since I have made a movie that was a trailer for a movie that never existed, I can recognize that a trailer is in fact it's own work of art. So I disagree with the idea that it was a good preview but not a good short film. In fact, I think it wouldn't work as a feature film, it might, but it would be too close to too many other wacky capers.

And there were ninjas, I mean, come on. Good stuff.

Also, for the record: Kenny also made a trailer. Did anybody get onto him for that? No. Get over it. KENNY MADE A TRAILER TOO AND SAID THAT HIMSELF.

Lucky Penny

I think that I can understand the judges thinking this was a lovely short silent film. But at the same time, it's kinda been done. But as somebody that picks up lucky pennies a lot, I also thought it was amusing. I think the effects were good, but not phenomenal, and I do think he got a great performance out of his actor. What was with so many people getting hit by busses?

...To Screw In A Lightbulb

To be honest, I'm with the judges, I didn't get it. It wasn't really funny, and this is the problem I have with "film school" people. They tend to be more concept than execution that will be fun for the average audience. As I've said before, filmmaking isn't for YOU. It's for the AUDIENCE and if the audience doesn't get it, then go back to the drawing board.

All that said, it also wasn't technically that well made, it didn't evoke the crowded room in an artistic way, it was just crowded. Also, while she didn't use any direct film quotes, it seemed a lot like one of those movies that relies on people loving other movies for it's own laugh track. This works very rarely, and usually it has to be a spoof that brings something new to the table, or exaggerates. This movie doesn't do much with anything, and like I said, technically was just not amazing.


I think this was a cute, funny movie that worked on a lot of levels. But I also wonder how much it brought to the table that was new and different. I think he's going to have to work really hard not to just be Spike Lee lite, to be honest. It was well made, and I don't neccesarily agree with the judges, I think the fact that everybody was "soft" made it funnier because who are they to call him soft, when they don't look that bad themselves. It really reminded me of the way kids really are.

Blind Date

I completly disliked this film, and again I'm not surprised it got her voted out. It was going okay, keeping up a fast pace and being interesting enough. Then she staggered to the bathroom, became a completly uninteresting character, and it all devolved into something dumb. The actress' performance also instantly went over the top, and her last reaction shot was terrible. Plus, I don't think anybody addressed the fact that I couldn't tell who was farting, and that's just ridiculous.

Getta Room
I'm seriously the only person that thought the main character was not nerdy or mentally retarded, but a recent immigrant? I dunno, it seemed that way to me, which still might be offensive. I also didn't think anything the guy was should be considered offensive. Honestly, if he was a nerd, doesn't that mean _I_ should be offended? I'm a nerd. I think that Jason could have been a little more tactful in saying that wasn't his intention.

It was an interesting film, but not the best or worst of the night. Just kinda good really. I want to see more. Going to his website, he's got the talent.

File Size

Okay, so while this smacked a lot of Office Space, it was still amusing and srsly, it's like my life in some ways. So I could recognize this idea and get behind it, and I think technically it was well done too. But it was sort of more of the same, lots of things do office comedy and there's not much more you can do with it.

Danger Zone

I've heard a lot of people talk about Children of Men. Filmmakers say that it's phenomenal because of the long shots and blah blah. Most actual people I know that have seen it think it was boring and kinda bad. Therefore we must conclude that single shots = genius.

This actually was a really cute movie, and I really liked it. I don't know if I think it was the best of the night as a storytelling idea, but I think technically it was almost completly there. But this is my primary issue: doing a great technical shot is fantastic but it doesn't automatically make it better or best. This is hard for me to figure out how to say, because I did like the movie, but it brings up a bigger issue. It's just, well, quite frankly special effects don't make the movie. The movie should be good first.

A Golf Story

I think the performances, since they had very little dialogue, were top notch. Your two main characters had no lines, literally, and yet you knew exactly what they were thinking. That was fantastic, and while I agree it didn't look like mini-golf, I could get over that. It was a good, short film. It almost reminded me of a commercial, I think it would make a great commercial.

Love in Year 2007

I liked the actress in this film actually, and I absolutly loved "Outsourced singers" in the opening. But that was about the only new, interesting thing it had going for it really.

One note: Mr. Marshall sir, falling in love is not a "women's problem." I should HOPE that everyone in the U.S. is pretty much trying to fall in love. Pretending men don't think about these things is kinda dumb.

Please Hold...
"You had the word Burgled which is one of the few funny words without the letter K in it..."
-Gary Marshall

I absolutly think that Kenny's should have been elminated over this one, because this one was at least technically well done, and while it is an old joke and had some contiunity problems (they tell her to press 19 for being burgled, and she presses one number). But overall, it was well made, which was more than Kenny could say. I think the problem is that he just...didn't have a personality at all, and nobody really identified with HIM, who cared about his work?

Check Out

I actually didn't like this one, despite everybody else loving it. It was well made technically, but the idea of it was so over the top that I didn't buy it for a second and was waiting for the over-the-top punchline. It was, of course, the "it's only a fantasy" deal, and I saw that coming. So I wasn't impressed, really. But I think she might be a good one to watch.

Replication Theory

Again, agreeing with the judges. This is the ONLY fart joke I found funny because it was just a little above, maybe because it actually recnogized that everybody HATES that noise.

I thought it was inventive, and people haven't really addressed the fact that you try to blame those noises on something else every time. So there you go, nice story, cute idea, and I love how he has to go through three things before he's tackled. It was well made, it was cute, and it had a great final shot.

And I also agree that the judges are in concert too often. When are they going to disagree? This might be a Hollywood problem. You don't want to insult Gary Marshall if you can help it, and saying "Well, Gary, I think you're wrong, it was terrible!" isn't the best idea.

I also don't think we should judge filmmakers by people who have gone before by saying "Will he be the next Ridley Scott?" "She's the next Mimi Leder!" or anything like that.

I'm so tired of hearing about women directors...guh