Monday, 14 September 2009

Lights! Camera! Action! If only it was that simple...

Forgive me, I hath sinned...and I've neglected my film watching of late. I have been known in the past to watch a film a day. Hour. Minute even (maybe stretching that a little). All I wanted to do was watch films. It was almost tempting to buy a wall of televisions, and have different movies on each screen at the same time. The next stage would have involved surgically implanting extra eyes onto my body to increase the movie watching levels. I await Apple to develop an iEyeEyei technology.

Then mundane things get in the way of my film nerdery. I shamefully began to lose opportunities to waste my life in celuloid fantasy to block out the pain of reality. Especially when I have t'interwebs to see to, post its to draw, people to annoy. However, the one positive of feeling flu-esque is that it gives me a good excuse to watch copious amounts of dvds.

This past week I have watched a begillion and one films, including what I believe is possibly the worst one of the lot. Even worse than SpiceWorld. It was a film that made my eyes bleed. It attacked my intelligence so much, it called it a plethora of insults before stuffing its head down the toilet. It was about as funny as a mass suicide of puppies (it was supposed to be a comedy). The name of this abomnination of a movie, is Burn Hollywood Burn. Imagine everything that could be wrong about a film, triple that by 10 Jim Davidsons and a Crossroads, and you have this piece. Even the title begs for correct punctuation. It is truly magnificently awful, it makes Neighbours look like a Dennis Potter adaptation, starring Ian McKellen and directed by Felini.

But it did make me ponder about the whole film-making world. Last week I photographed some film stills for a short film in Cardiff. Despite making films at University, it still always amazes me just how complex a process making movies is. You cannot beat seeing the workings at the coalface to really appreciate this. I found being on set fascinating. Even for a relatively small project, there needed to be a wealth of organisation, and a never ending stream of components.

It's not just the writing, the camera shots, lighting, the costume; it's the acting, the continuity, the attention to detail. There are money constraints, weather issues, location considerations. Make no bones about it, producing and completing a film is a rather difficult, intricate process. One that people take for granted as being easy, simply because it is in the media/entertainment industry. Which admittedly is a bizarre and surreal world at the best of times, but it isn't always as shallow as some of the plastic stars that often take all the limelight.

Good film (and TV drama for that matter) makes it all look simple. You don't at first, notice the cuts and edits, or the fact that one scene would take possibly hours even days to film. I used to love film editing during my degree for precisely this reason. Putting numerous pieces of footage from different angles together to make it all look as if it was simply happening in front of your eyes in real time, was a gloriously satisfying task. It really is like completing a jigsaw, only a moving image jigsaw with bells and whistles. It is also painstakingly lengthy, and made me appreciate the early masters of film direction and editing.

No one sets out to make a bad film (hopefully, anyway). Sometimes there is even a warped charm with a bad film or TV. You know it is bad but it is still enjoyable. Why else is Murder She Wrote so popular? It can't all be the lure of Angela Lansbury and her remarkable shoulder pads, as wonderful as she is.
It is often worth remembering that it is not always so easy to get all the correct ingredients to make a movie a good one, although Burn Hollywood Burn is so ridiculously bad, even I can't excuse it. And I fully admit to loving Neighbours.

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