Bret Wood's Efforts and Exploits

An updated guide to film and DVD work.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Exclusive Film Clip

iFilm is hosting an exclusive clip of Psychopathia on their site. "The Beleaguered Prostitute" stars producer Tracy Martin as a strong and resilient working girl who engages in a series of performances that grow increasingly strange.


Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Is Film Dead?

Oh... and video too.

I am just finishing teaching a semester-long class in Film History at a local art college. This is the fifth time I've taught the class and every year the level of enthusiasm and curiosity in the students sinks lower and lower. As any teacher can tell you, they draw energy from those students who are -- if not hungry for knowledge -- at least interested in the material. Even one student who is genuinely intrigued by the subject matter can inspire an instructor to try and bring fresh ideas and fascinating raw material into the classroom.

Those curious students have steadily dwindled down to nothing. Last year I swore I wouldn't bother teaching again, but decided to give it one more semester, as a favor to the person who hired me several years ago. I'm more comfortable in the classroom than ever, my lectures are more coherent and focused, but rousing any interest in the minds of the students is simply a lost cause.

And I just cannot conceive of it. How can someone not be interested in a film class? We're not talking neo-academic film theory, but an understanding and appreciation of the evolution of film style... from Edison and Griffith through German Expressionism, silent American cinema, the pre-Code era, the CHC, the French New Wave an American independent cinema of the early '70s. Film noir for crying out loud! Nothing. Flatline. How can someone watch The 400 Blows and have nothing to say or ask... and have no emotional reaction to the film at all? How can someone watch a film as provocative as Catherine Breillat's Fat Girl or as aesthetically rebellious as Melvin Van Peebles's Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song and then shrug afterward? They seem incapable of viewing film as anything more than something to be judged on its entertainment value. Thumbs up or down, that's it.

After attempts at discussion that gradually degenerated into interrogation, I find that they have never been moved by cinema. One student really liked The Incredibles. That's as close as we got to an epiphany. They generally do not go to movies, they seldom rent DVDs. Video games and cable TV are the opiates of choice.

So the future of American film is not looking too good. And it's not so good for me either. Here I've spent about two years making a movie that attempts to speak in the cinematic vocabulary of the 1920s... that plays upon the viewer's knowledge of film history, genre and moral politics. I had always expected a fair number of blank gazes... shrugs... and vacant expressions... because this is not something formulated to appeal to the masses. But now I feel like someone is walking over my grave. Actually... it's worse than that. My grave is being paved over so a new Wal-Mart can go in.

It's horrible to reach a point in your life when you realize that the thing that gives your soul the greatest pleasure (cinema) -- the thing that fuels your ambition and inspires you to create -- is becoming inconsequential to the next generation. I'm just hoping and praying that there are enough people in the world who can connect to a film like Psychopathia to make it commercially successful.

..And that I'll live to make another movie.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

JUDGEMENT. is online

My entry in 2005's 48 Hour Film Festival (Atlanta) is now online. You can view it on my myspace video-viewer (if you have Flash 8 Player) it's film #4 in my queue (http://www.myspace.com/bret_wood).

... or if you're on an old-fashioned computer like mine... go to www.illustratedfilms.com and click on JUDGEMENT. It's a huge file (61 MB), so give it some buffering time. It runs 8 minutes.



The category was "dark comedy." It's dark... and we thought it was funny while we were making it... but the audience sat in silence throughout. What do we know? I still think Brad Brooks (the reluctant stabber) is hilarious.

I assume everyone knows what the 48 is... a competition where teams make films (from concept to delivery of finished master) in 48 hours. And to prove it was spontaneous, they randomly assign a genre, line of dialogue ("It was easier the old way"), character (R. Edelstein, marriage counselor), and prop (2x4).

Looks like we're doing the 48 again this year (May 19-21). If anyone wants to participate, bring it on. We're meeting at Manny's to discuss Tuesday night 4/25 (tentatively).

I have no idea what we'll do, but you can count on a dark, strange, vaguely sexual, period piece (that'll probably be how my career is summed up in my obituary. I could think of worse... "directed comedies starring SNL alumni.").

Bret

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Now what?

They say when your movie comes out, you need to have a fresh script in each pocket. So... much coffee is being consumed these days. Did I mention I have a day job? And a family? I heard my son turned five recently. Remind me to send him an e-mail.

But seriously, I'm very happy with the progress of the two scripts in my back pockets... just trying not to let my ambitions get ahead of my abilities. All I'll say at this point is, one is a vehicle designed for Ned Beatty (only he doesn't know it yet), and the other is The Seventh Daughter -- a plunge back into terrain similar to Psychopathia Sexualis, only maybe a little more psychotic... and sexual.

Maybe sometime in the future I'll update this post, and offer a few more details, but as a firm believer in the jinx, I'm not willing to do that now.