Ah, the movies. While Hollywood seems to have fallen into some kind of creative sinkhole for the past, say, 30 years, film is still one of the biggest industries out there. There’s still nothing quite like gathering a few of your friends, purchasing some egregiously overpriced snacks and sitting down in a big, dark box to watch some action. Or some drama. Or maybe even some romance, if your significant other managed to convince you to sit through two hours of cinematic torture and Richard Gere. If you picked well, you’ll get an experience that you’ll leave talking about, or in the romance case, snogging about. If you chose poorly, then you’ll probably fall sleep with your hand in a greasy bucket of popcorn that cost you $20. I told you not to go see The Smurfs.
It isn’t just Hollywood, either. Film has been a worldwide industry for a long time, but it’s since the late Aughts when films from other parts of the world have really been gaining ground outside of their country of origin. No longer dominated by screaming Japanese men jump-kicking people into conveniently-placed tables and Godzilla, other countries have leapt into the fray. The other big movie mecca, India, has been making them since the 30s. With movies like Singham, in which some guy—presumably the movie’s namesake—tiger-slaps the absolute bollocks out of some delinquents in a Jeep (which he outruns), it seems Bollywood might beat out its namesake. I dunno about you, but I’d rather watch that than Scary Movie XVIII.
So, with movies being (mostly) awesome and all, how does one break into the movie industry? Nowadays, any young punk can grab his i-whatever and film his “friend” getting his jewels mashed with a stick, but that’s not exactly big-screen level. If you really want to learn about what it’s like to make a movie, the hop into your DeLorean and travel back to Oct. 10 at NSS, where JoAnne Alaric and Michelle Williams helped a class full of future directors, actors, and editors make their very own movie.
The first thing we were presented with was a handout. Normally, that would mean three pages of copying scientific minutia from a textbook, but this was more “finding out exactly how many people actually work on a movie” and less “the mating habits of the fox and the hound.” Rather than the popular belief of a movie having five roles–writers, director, producer, actors, and everybody else—there are actually more than that. Way more. Think 50-and-up more. Those roles include the “Best Boy,” who is not, contrary to the name, some kind of Korean mail-order husband website, but rather handles organization, rentals and calls. Also on the list is a “Rigging Gaffer” who sounds incredibly British and hangs lights.
Of course, with 15 or so students and a one-room set, we didn’t need any of those. Pretty much everybody was an actor except for the Goodmans, who got to boss everybody around, and our two editors—Wolfgang and Emery. The script we worked off was one from a scene of the show “Hell on Wheels,” a popular western about the construction of the first transcontinental railroad. The reason for that is that Michelle works on it. Forgive my uncharacteristic enthusiasm, but that kicks butt! JoAnne, of course, is no slouch either, being famous ‘round these parts for her documentaries and work with Number Five Productions. What better teachers could we have?
The million dollar question is, “how did it turn out?” The million dollar answer is pretty dang good! While my dreams of being the new generation’s William Shatner were crushed, everybody else did a great job. No one would ever mistake our end product as professional, but compared to the previously mentioned nut-crushing Youtube compilations, ours was modern art.