As I begin plans for my first 2-minute (?) movie, I ponder some of the people and movies who inspired me.
1. Francois Truffaut (left).
When it came out, I went by myself to see Day for Night ("La Nuit Américaine") about the fortunes (and mis-) of a French filmmaking crew. (I just looked it up--it came out in 1973. Geez--I was twelve.)
The role of director dazzled me. I thought, "I want to do that."
But it seemed impossible.
2. My pal Allan, who long ago impressed me with tales about how he made his one and only movie forty-five years ago: Stinko. And all the other kids who put their parents' movie cameras to better use than recording family vacations.
Why didn't I do that?
3. That guy who wrote to me on youTube about month ago, telling me to buy a camera.
I did do that. I guess timing is all.
4. The woman in California who sent me $60 to buy a back-up camera battery.
Actually, I spent it on memory for my computer, but it's all in service to the same goal.
5. Have you noticed more movies about homemade moviemaking lately?
Is it because cheap technology has made this possible, so people are telling stories about it?
(Of course, there were always movies about moviemaking--"Day for Night" is far from the only one.)
These are a couple recent movies about homemaking movies that threw me into fits of delight and envy.
Son of Rambow is not only a sweet coming-of-age story of two boys' friendship, it also features Jessica Stevenson of Spaced! (She plays the mother of the boy, in a family of Brethren--a distinctly unfunny religion. The director, Garth Jennings, seems to be a friend/colleague of Simon Pegg and Co.?)
The movie follows the two mismatched boys as they make a movie inspired by the original Rambo, but really about being brave and looking for love.
Once again, I thought, I want to do that.
But this time, I also thought, I could do that, because unlike Truffaut, these boys just use a home video camera.
Ditto Be Kind, Rewind, starring Jack Black (here, wearing a fly eye!) and Mos Def.
This movie illustrates the virtues of knowing what to throw away.
There's a near-perfect movie inside it; but at a self-indulgent 140 minutes, half the time, it just annoys. I want to send a pair of scissors to Michel Gondry, the director (also of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind).
But it's also an incredible paeon to the genius and joy of raw art.
Out of a bizarre kind of necessity, the two loser-heroes start to make their own versions of Hollywood movies, using junk and duct tape.
Watch examples here.
This film is an archangel trumpeting,
"Go out and do it yourself!"
I loved it. Loved it, loved it, loved it.
6. Fellini's Ego.
[Fellini, here, directing Marcello Mastroianni in 8 1/2 (1963).]
In truth, 8 1/2 baffled me when I was a kid and left me cold.
But as an adult, its overblown, indulgent, magical magnificence inspires me.
It's outrageous--no one with an apologetic ego would or could make art like this.
David Mamet says you'd better have a big ego to make movies because the craft itself will cut you down, over and over.
The further I get from the [mostly] female habit of cringing and hiding like a frightened spaniel, the more I can access my inner-Fellini.