Bret Wood's Efforts and Exploits

An updated guide to film and DVD work.

Thursday, August 09, 2007


The previously blogged-about PSA I made for PEDS is now online, and a link is provided below.

This is the "director's cut," and now the story (most of it, anyway) can be told.

We tried to make the PSA a little disturbing, while staying within the barriers of good taste. PEDS is an organization that has never been afraid of being confrontational and provocative, so when they were awarded the funds to shoot a safety PSA, they were inspired by the more graphic PSAs that air in the UK and Australia, as well as the shocking driver education films of the 1960s. So that was our objective as we sat at the drawing board.

Most people would argue that the PSA is too tame, but they would be in the minority. When PEDS submitted the piece to Cinemedia -- the group that produces the promotional packages that run before the movies in regional theatre chains, such as Regal and AMC -- they were told that the piece was too violent. It was suggested that we deleted the effect of the girl getting hit by the car, and the shot of her lying under the coroner's sheet.

Initially, PEDS's response was to bypass Cinemedia and the have the PSA shown on the local cable system, where it could be placed on specific channels, in specific time blocks, so it wouldn't offend sensitive viewers. That should work, right? No soap. Comcast rejected the PSA completely.

Okay... if Regal and AMC Cinemas won't show it... and Comcast won't show it... we'll go directly to the local TV channels. I mean, after all, this was sponsored by the Governor's Office of Highway Safety, and they were very pleased with the ad. Sorry. At least two local network affiliates rejected the ad outright. We were later told that the PSA would have to pass through another governmental agency for approval and that there was no way it would pass muster.

The same theatres that show pornographic tripe like HOSTEL 2 and CAPTIVITY won't show the PSA linked above? The same TV channels that show CSI and all that garbage won't show a safety message with suggested violence? Apparently a different sete of standards apply to original content -- as opposed to advertising content. You would think that the person paying for the airtime would enjoy a greater amount of creative freedom, but just the reverse is true. And you would think that a PSA that is trying to save children's lives would be looked upon more favorably than a TV show or movie that stages violence as a form of entertainment. Not the case, my friends.

In the end, Cinemedia agreed to accept a revised PSA (with the same required cuts mentioned above), and would show it on screens showing movies rated PG-13 or R. We agreed, and a revised PSA was born:

Recently, however, a couple of people went to see PG-13 movies for the sole purpose of viewing the PSA beforehand. Much to their surprise, the PSAs did not run. We have just been informed that AMC pulled the ad from all PG-13 screens, and will only show it on R-rated screens. I'm not talking about the "director's cut," I'm talking about the CENSORED VERSION! R-Rated audiences only.

Whom could this ad possibly offend?

Friday, August 03, 2007


The Psychopathia DVD has just been reviewed in the August 2007 issue of Sight and Sound Magazine, and I'm relieved to see it is not only positive but thoughtful and insightful. If only all critics gave a film as much consideration and attention as Tim Lucas does (readers of Video Watchdog know what I'm talking about).


It says, in part:

Against all odds...Bret Wood has not only succeeded with his Psychopathia Sexualis, but triumphed. A sinuous interweaving of four case studies and other interludes, this remarkably mature and beautifully photographed debut asserts its own voice (familiar from Wood's documentaries), while balancing fresh cinematic techniques with silent influences and devices (such as iris shots), and Krafft-Ebing's clinical texts with much-needed warmth and empathy. Unlike the pastiche-like ways in which silent imagery is manifest in, for example, Guy Maddin's fine work, Wood's absorption of such techniques evinces a broader range of familiarity and more organic expression. He rarely gives us shots that 'quote' or recreate the great silent masters; instead, he and DP David Bruckner present images those masters might have shot, had they somehow assimilated the last 80 years of cinematography.

Those of you who know me, or have been following the film, know that it got slammed pretty hard by the mainstream critics. The greatest solace is that it didn't get trashed by the writers whom I consider most film-knowledgeable, and whose reviews I most admire. Case in point, the review above.

This review couldn't have come at a better time, as I'm in the home stretch of finishing my screenplay, The Seventh Daughter. A draft had been workshopped earlier in 2007, but it has been pretty thoroughly restructured and rewritten since then, and I am finally starting to feel confident in its potential. I've never experienced writer's block until this year, but I think that's because most of the things I've written have been "slices" of stories, rather than a single complex feature-length narrative. It has been grueling but I'm hoping it will have been worth the effort and frustration.