Don't Quit Your Day Job II: On the Cutting Room Floor

January 16, 2012 by cynick | Posted in film

Some time ago, in Don’t Quit Your Day Job, I wrote about my downstairs neighbor, Mark, inviting me to appear in a fantasy-genre film he was making.

It took about a year to edit it all down, and get it through post production, adding special effects and a soundtrack and so forth.

I can see why actors so often claim to have never seen their work on screen; for example, Robert Redford is said to have not watched The Sting until thirty years after its release, at the urging of a grandson. By the time a film wends its way down the long production process, the actors have long since moved on to other things.

In my case, I wasn’t sure that I wanted to see myself on screen, but, on the other hand, I really had no idea if the scene I was in had survived the cut. To know that, I’d have to watch!

Ultimately, the film, Forsythia, was released via a weekly series of webisodes, each several minutes long, via its home website, so I started watching them to see if I’d show up. I only knew that, storywise, my scene was toward the beginning.

By Episode Four, I realized that the story was well beyond where my bit would have been, and I started thinking, “oh well, it was all in good fun!”, and, “hey! these guys did a capitol job on this thing!”, but then again, the subscript of this blog post’s title acts in the same fashion of a Hollywood picture whose trailers give the whole movie away, and then surprises you with a shocking, shocking! twist that you couldn’t have seen coming:

I rewound (an archaic term, that!) to Episode Three, paid closer attention, and there I was. Our “robbery” scene had been reduced to a dream sequence in Forsythia’s head!

Immediately, I understood what had been done. The scene, once fully played out on film, simply didn’t have the kind of tension and menace that the filmmakers had hoped for on paper, but they still wanted to convey that something disturbing had taken place, and hence, they used the device of showing Forsythia’s unconscious discomfort with what had happened, and let the audience create that tension for themselves. Neato!

For those who don’t care for the fantasy genre enough to watch the whole thing, here’s a deep link. Don’t blink!

For me, the most amusing side effect of this experience is that I now have my own entry on IMDb! That’s pretty cool!

Thanks, Mark, for asking me to participate!

Don't Quit Your Day Job

August 13, 2010 by cynick | Posted in film

Several weeks ago, my downstairs neighbor invited me to be in a film he was making.

A non-speaking role only; he just needed a couple people to play menacing villains, and I was the first person he thought of. I wasn’t sure whether I should have been flattered or insulted, but I can definitely look really scary if I want to. Even my normal appearance is somewhat intimidating. He signed up his future son-in-law as Villain #2.

They have been shooting the film over the last four weeks; the scene I’m in was shot yesterday, on the last day of shooting. The shoot was at a greenhouse in South Minneapolis, near 44th and France. It’s an old school neighborhood greenhouse that has been around for decades – and whose underlying real estate must be worth a fortune.

I was only privy to the pages of the scene being shot there, and got a hand-wavy description of the rest of the story, but basically, it’s about a young woman with some kind of magical powers who travels from the past to 2010 MInneapolis.

The greenhouse scene involves this woman walking into the greenhouse to inquire about a job, only to realize she’s walked in on a robbery in progress. A couple of robbers are stealing some very particular kinds of plants, and the greenhouse owner, with her hands up, is pleading with the robbers about how valuable the plants are, and how they need special care. The implication is that those robbers may actually be from the heroine’s world and that those plants may have something to do with her magic.

She stares the robbers down, throws some threatening words at them, and then poof! they disappear in a flash of special effects.

This all takes place in, say, 15 seconds.

Of course, the reality of shooting it was much different. Since they were shooting with a single camera, multiple angles had to be shot in sequence, which meant that the scene had to be played out over and over again. I lost count of the number of takes, but it was probably around a dozen. They needed me for about an hour, and then I was released.

Admittedly, I was a bit nervous at first – I generally shy away from being caught on film – but after the first few takes, and I saw that the people running the thing really knew what they were doing, I began to enjoy it.

Ultimately, it will be released in small, weekly webisodes; I’ll post a link when it becomes available.

I may not actually watch it myself: I’m not sure how keen I am to see myself on camera. But others might get a kick out of it.


August 7, 2010 by cynick | Posted in film

I finally made it to Christopher Nolan’s Inception. A marvelous film.

However, as it went on, it occurred to me that the top of Nolan’s Netflix queue must have cycled through at least Being John Malkovich, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and Synecdoche, New York while he was writing Inception.

In other words, Nolan has made something of an approximation of a Charlie Kaufman film.

The difference, at least for me, is that Inception somehow lacks the emotional punch of all of those Kaufman films. I dunno, maybe Leo needed to cry more.

That said, the film is the best I’ve seen this year, and Nolan has preserved his place in my list of automatic, must see filmmakers.