Friday, February 16, 2007

Undercover Cooprdog

Every morning when I wake up the first thing I do (after I beat my dick) is Google the title of my film. And I do that because I am completely paranoid and I know all you haters are talkin’ shit on me at every possible opportunity and I use technology so that I can track you down and kill you in your sleep. Well, there have been no substantial changes in my Google pages all week…and what the fuck is that about? Is there that much going on in Indie film? Is the Dakota Fawing pseudo rape scene really all there is to talk about? (Did she get paid? ...then why doesn’t everybody just shut-the-fuck-up about it!) So I took all my frustrations and hatred to the place where it would do the most good. I Googled my “competition”. Now, I don’t have any real competition; I mean as far as the up and comers are concerned I think I’m all alone. I mean there’s the “hip-hop filmmaker” who has had his films distributed in 18 countries…he’s all over the fuckin’ place bragging about how he uses real people and not actors (yeah, you can put that in the “hella-fuckin’-obvious” column) I mean far be it from me to poke holes in someone else’s hot air balloon but this is the guy that bought his own float in a parade and put his name on the front of it… so that he could film the crowds of people calling his name…like he was famous or some shit. What the fuck is that? That’s not even bullshit reality TV bullshit…that’s fraud. Someone needs to lock this dude up for impersonating a minor local celebrity when you aren’t even a minor hood celebrity on your block (Former hood celebrities would include :Suki the mythical loan shark/pimp, Ghetto Mom – creator of the ubiquitous footwear “Ghetto Bitches” (these are the slippers that black people tend to wear in the hood when they go to the store – yes, you have one woman to thank for all that Ghettofication) and Big Mike from Philly “Everybody knows Big Mike from Philly”. These are Ghetto celebrities who mad motherfuckers give shouts out to in various hip –hop tracks and closing statements as they are dragged from the courtroom in shackles.

Anyway I got this dude to keep tabs on, I got this radio guy who thinks he like Mr. Fucking-screenwriter that I met at another screening and oh yeah, then there are the self- promoting actors who front like they are filmmakers just to get close to directors so they can weasel their way into a production. Here’s a little piece of advice: The reason not that many people are allowed to talk to me on the set, is because I really don’t have any fucking clue what it is we are doing at any given second. You can feed me Guinness (in a can or Draught please…Guinness in a bottle just goes to show you’re a Anheuser Busch drinker who’s past his depth) all night and load me up with onion rings, but the chances of me remembering this conversation and doing something in your favor – are less then the chances that I will go and listen to Spielberg speak (I mean talk out of his ass).

Speaking of talentless-hacks-who shoot films devoid of ethninticity (can you tell I’m a big fan?) I decided to cruise over to the reality TV show that bears his name “On the Lot”. Regular readers are well aware of my “encounter” with this show and its producers...and for those of you that would like a quick summary it went something like this… “Cooprdog! This is the police! Let the hostages go! Burnett says he’s sorry he made a joke and he knows he not even remotely funny…now put the gun down!”….I didn’t want to be on that show anyway (…and the security guard started it). But, I thought it would be fun to create a profile and upload my trailers and see what the fuck happens…and I still haven’t heard back from my weed dealer…so what the fuck else was I going to do but go undercover and see what the real deal is. And what pretel made me want to go undercover and spy on a group of people I have more disdain for than the guy who sells stale blunts in my ‘hood (FYI...if Suki catches you doin’ that shit, he’s gonna shoot you)…well I was on their site (purely by accident, I swear!) and I realized that some of the really horrible films have 25K plays. What? Are you fucking kidding me? 25K and you can’t even hold the camera steady? Ok, that’s why the web sucks…cause when shitty films get 25K so people can say “yeah, it’s pretty shitty”…something is just not right; time to cause some problems and reset things to the way they should be (with me getting all the attention).

And that is what led to this undercover assignment that we’ll call: Operation Fuck your Momma! (“OFYM” – for short)…because in the event I am confronted with a justified and logical question about this cyber-graffiti I am about to mask his site with… “fuck your momma” is the correct response in a debate where all your points have been rendered moot.

So I began to create an account on OTL to see how quickly I could get into the game. Now please keep in mind that I do this whole “create and account and upload your media”-thing about 5-6 times a month, I’m a regular at it. So I feel confident in assessing the functionality of the interface on Mark Burnett’s site.

First Impressions: Do I really need to see Speilie’s mug when the home page loads? I mean he’s not a pretty man by any stretch of the imagination. (go ahead and make a “he sounds gay” comment – are you proud of yourself?). I mean I’d really have opted for something else, anything else but his face…that’s liable to scare off all the chicks (yeah cause you are always meeting so many hot female filmmakers)…but looks can be deceiving (except when it’s your credit card balance) so I trekked on. I thought I’d watch a few of the films, you know… to see what I was dealing with.

Hmm let’s see…clichéd narrative, unaware of what the phrase “white balance” means, slo-motion dialogue, campy, farce…oh yeah… and let’s not forget the angry ethnic guy films… man do I love those. Nothing says “give me productions funds” like baseless and indefensible racism accusations from introverted 20 years olds who might actually have a point of contention in the scene they have so elegantly crafted; but it’s so devoid of reality and common sense that you just stare at it….like a bird with a broken wing and you say “why God” (..and I’m an atheist)…. “why do these films continue to get made?”

Now to be completely fair, maybe it’s not their fault. Maybe these “filmmakers” (and I use the term loosely) have all realized that Spielie wouldn’t know content if it was illegally downloaded on his kids PC…(you know there is hella porn on that hard drive) so maybe you are playing down to him…yeah, whatever.

I watch a few of these little ditties and I decide that I have to upload my shit. I mean I don’t want a $1MM development deal. My film has already been developed. I need productions funds, $3.7MM if you are taking notes…so these bitches got nothin’ for me (“You got nuthin’…you hear me…nuthin’”). But I have to know what the reaction will be, I have to know what the experience is like for all the people who never once consider shooting or writing or directing or acting in a film until this contest appeared (exactly how is the creation of a new reality show interpreted as an epiphany?) I mean.. I gotta know, I gotta see how this goes down.

So I create my profile and from jump it’s totally fuckin’ lame (no, seriously). I mean it’s like release form city up in this piece. You give them exclusive right to this, perpetual right to that …I mean they are kidding right? Perpetual right to air a film that I shot, simply because I am applying to your contest? I don’t mean to be an asshole, but shouldn’t you have to make the show or win the show to have all your intellectual property rights stolen from you? Do we really need to surrender them completely just to play on your site (Filmmakers: you need to read the releases – just because they call it a standard release, doesn’t mean it is). Yeah, the winner of this motherfucker is gonna be down in out in no time….but hey, you heard it here first.

Ok so I’m filling out the profile. And it’s my typical spiel (“I am in intergalactic space traveler”… “I make films so that I can get pussy”…. You know, rude shit!). I don’t even know why people bother with honesty, I mean it doesn’t make for a good story unless you recently beat the murder wrap and used home video in your defense…then maybe I give a shit about your true filmmaking origins…and if that is not your case...please lie (I’m begging you)…no one cares, not me, not your ex-girlfriend and certainly not anyone who might give you money (ha…ha…like these guys are going to get money).

So get this, you can’t use any profanity on your profile. It will replace any offensive words with asterisks….no, I am not making this shit up. Word filters, do you see how it starts? Do you see how your attempt to change the world will morph into PG-13 content for PAX (you know you watch the shit)? But I remind myself that I am undercover and I need to not completely stick out…so I modified my profile (yeah, sure I did).

But wait it gets better, so I go to upload a film to these servers that aren’t what I would call fast and then I have to print out my “application”. A piece of advice, real directors don’t fill out applications, it’s beneath their station (“learn it, live it…know it”), I can’t believe that this has caused an outrage…and then I remember that these aren’t real filmmakers…these are the inflatable kind that you use at festivals and job fairs (a filmmaking job fair…tell me that won’t turn into an impromptu smoke-out and titty bar); but I print it out anyway to finish the uploading process.

That was 10 days ago. My content still hasn’t been released. Now this is due to one of three reasons; 1 - they are so backlogged with tagging and encoding short films that they are hopefully behind and have decided that since there is only 4 days left in the “call for entries” window (yeah…that’s what it’s called when people are looking for films….yeah, I know - you are new) why even bother since most of these films suck. 2 – I did not follow the instructions and add a 30 second video introduction to my film at the head of it. I mean what if your entry is a snuff film of you tying up your neighbors dog and decapitating him?…you really ain’t trying to put your name on that piece of media, but hey.. it’s Burnett and Spielberg, I guess they know what they are doing (uh huh, that’s what they said about NASA). The chances of my being penalized for this infraction is rather small because you’d have to watch all of the uploaded films to know who was following the rules. And let me tell you, that’s a lot of hours of bad dialogue and stilted acting...I doubt there is a review committee. 3 – they are running out of server space. Now I think this is the most viable answer because their site runs slow, very slow (hey Burnett, how about comin’ out the pocket and helpin’ a brother out). They even have buffer problems with films that are less than a minute (“coming-out-the-pocket” eg. “to pay for”; “to assume responsibility of”; “to financially support” – example – “Yeah I can do that for you dog, but you’re gonna have to come out the pocket on a monthly, ya feel me?”). It would appear to me that Burnett kind of underestimated exactly what type of infrastructure he needed for this site….ha, you fuckin’ amateur; go back to making contestants eat live bugs and leave the real filmmaking to the professionals at Youtube!

So, I’ve uploaded all my trailers and removed all the profanity from my profile (“I am the best gosh-darn director you’ve ever met” – see it just doesn’t roll off the tongue like “I’m the shit” or “bitch, my shit is so hot it could make you pregnant”...but what do I know.) Nothing is working. I can’t upload a pic, I can’t create a new album… but I can change my avatar (oh man, really!). So I decide to watch a few of the films while I’m waiting for the technical staff (yeah like there is a team of people working on this…it’s probably one dude in an non-air conditioned room with a Pentium II and a 56K connection working on the server – “Damn it Jim! I’m a doctor not level I support specialist”.

As I cruise the site I realize that this is a really shitty site (and I do mean shitty). For starters the server has to buffer every single film. And when it’s buffering you get this spinning clock right in the center of your image. Wow, that’s so fucking appealing! Hey Burnett, why don’t you make the buffering graphic larger so we can’t see any part of the film?…that would be fucking awesome! I mean who designed this? What was that tech meeting like (“uh, yeah… we’ve got this ugly ass spinning clock graphic that will be in constant use since we have absolutely no server capacity….most users should encounter it about 3-5 per film they watch…it’s going to be totally money”).

Alas I make myself watch this guy’s movie and a few others along the way. I am in shock that people have attached their names to these films. I mean are you for fucking real? Tell me your kidding (“I know your kidding…tell me you’re kidding”)… I mean look at this guy http://films.thelot.com/films/11690 he’s my age and come on you gotta represent us better than this… this is the best you can do? Let me guess you like to watch “The Shield”… I like the show too, but The Commish can act….you on the other hand, cannot… I’d like to play professional football but I’m not really trying to get hit by a 250lb guy….ya feel me?

But let’s get back to his film. It’s out of synch, but to be fair so is most of the stuff on the OTL site. Now that’s just fuckin’ comedy. I mean what could be funnier than a shitty film by a shitty filmmaker with no knowledge of understanding of the artform what-so-ever? A shitty film by a shitty filmmaker with no knowledge of the artform that plays out of synch. I mean the whole thing is like a bad school play where the teacher in charge is fucking a secretary in the broom closet so there is no one around to yell cut…so you just have to suffer….and suffer and suffer some more (drink up Johnny!)

But let’s go piece by piece here…shall we.

Ok... he lights the cigarette to begin the scene. This is known in the business as “difficulty with a small object” – it’s an opportunity to interject lots of information about a character without innocuous dialogue or unnecessary lines that will only cause a scene to drag. Initially, it’s a nice choice to open up your short. I should point out that your opening shot is so heavily indebted to every crime/thriller/tough guy set-up every shot that it makes me want to laugh…are you trying to be funny?....tell me you are trying to be funny. And what’s with your wardrobe? Were you aware that you were going to be shooting this in monochrome (Black & white people)? Do you realize that wearing sunglasses in doors with a leather jacket and smoking is….well…artificial. I mean wouldn’t you get hot? It’s a leather jacket….and it’s really tough to scare someone when they can’t see your eyes…I mean it’s just not that scary… unless they are a state trooper and the little kid that you have tied up in the trunk won’t shut the fuck up….uh where was I?

Oh yeah, this shitty short. You’ve got two shots… one of which is the back of your head. Now don’t get me wrong, you have a nice head…as far as balding, unauthentic white guys go… but what the fuck is it doing in the shot? Who’s point of view is that?....the book of the shelf (“ok…take three….take three on the book on the shelf POV…we have to get this! I am not fucking around with you people! And ….action!!!” Is this dramatic or did you realize that your poor acting and lack of art department wasn’t gonna carry for 3 mins and 50 seconds (it’s a very long time when nothing is happening…like say when you are holding your breath…so you thought you would mix it up ( do I really need to comment on that?)

And then there is the story line spoken in some guttural Midwest relocated to the Northeast tough guy accent. Nice try, but here’s something you might want to consider…tough guys… .don’t speak in perfect English…they speak broken English and lots of slang…it’s their hallmark (“Do you understand what I’m sayin’ to you…this has gotta fuckin’ stop.. I mean it Paulie!”) But alas we have this well spoken, chain smokin’ “thug” talking about how he picked this guy up on the road and the guys a child molester…and they are going to make sure he never hurts anymore children. So let’s go down the indie cliché scorecard shall we…

Something to do with a little girl…….Check!

Stylized Violence……………………..Check!

Revenge……………………………….Check!

Hypothetical situation described by the lead character laced with witty screenwriting descriptions and the occasional sports reference in an attempt to show he can write…..Check!

Hypothetical situation ends with dismemberment and placing the guys cock in his own mouth…Check! (you do get partial credit for just talking about it and not shooting it…but c’mon dude!)

Smoking…cause in the world of the cinema…everyone is cool…so everyone smokes… Check!

A complete about face on the narrative when we learn that this was all done to teach a child molester a lesson………………check!

References to God………………………………………….Check!

No, I am not making this shit up, watch his film. The sad thing is that this guy does have a story to tell… albeit through the lens of other filmmakers work and nighttime TV drama.

Ok.. so maybe I’m just harsh…that is what I was thinking. I mean the guy did try… I should be nicer…yeah.. whatever…you made a film to enter a contest hoping that you might win and become a director….overnight…..You deserve every cheap shot I can muster (like why don’t you lay off the fucking cheetos).

Next Victim: http://films.thelot.com/films/763 I was thinking of the best way to tell you what you’re in for if you watch his film… and here it is: “temporal space-time distortion”….no that’s not a joke… it’s his dialogue. Hmmm.. .where to begin…where to begin? Ok this film is a great lesson for all of you that love Min-DV. When you are shooting the one thing that you need…is light. You see it’s the light bouncing of the subject that creates the image. No light, no image…get it? So, why are you shooting several scenes in low lighting (read: non-existent) situations? Did you look at your dailies before you finished this film? Are you aware that when your film is encoded it tends to be darker? Now I think you understand why Sex, Love & Z-Parts is not available for viewing online. But wait, I’m not finished with this guy’s film. Please tell me that you didn’t write a script, please tell me that you did not have meeting about this shoot. If you tell me that you woke up one day and decided to shoot this with no script or preparation I won’t make fun of you (ok, that’s a lie…but I won’t make it really funny). I mean you still suck harder than Shaq at the free throw line….but I can understand why you suck. But if you planned this, if you discussed these shots before hand….then I think you should seriously consider seeing a therapist…there is something wrong with you.

…oh yeah, one last thing. Short films about days that repeat, or bumping into your doppelganger or a guy that watches himself on TV walking the exact route we just watched in the first person….are as clichéd as they come. Here’s a easy one for all you new people to the blog…what’s the one thing you need to shoot a film….that’s right, a script! Hey my man….why would I want to watch a black screen with poor dialogue for 5 minutes…..I mean where is the entertainment? (and by entertainment I mean watchability)

Where is the entertainment I ask you? The entertainment on OTL.com is in the stat’s.

Film genre’s on the On The Lot site: 14

Number of films broken down by genre:

Action & Adventure 130

Anime & Animation 33

Art & Experimental 94

Children & Family 33

Comedy 295

Documentary 63

Drama 255

Horror 63

Movie Trailers 129

Music & Musical 71

Romance 24

Sci Fi & Fantasy 50

Sports 6

Thriller 72

Total number of films 1,318….now what do these numbers tell us about this contest? Well it tells us that most of the people who have applied think that they are funny or think that they have some insight on the human experience…come guys; if you were really funny or really had something to add to the discussion – I think we’d have already have seen your work. Therefore I am assuming that these two particular genres were picked because people think that they are the most effective to communicate your talent…or that they are the easiest. Now if you think comedy is easy…you obviously don’t watch MadTV….cause that’s as unfunny as it gets. And drama? They think drama is easy (note to self – you watch way too much TNT – no not the wrestling program, you redneck)…or maybe they think that tackling the hard issues will get them more respect.

Now I had planned to watch as many films as physically possible to give you a feel for what is going on on the site. But I can’t fucking take it! I mean the lack of originality is utterly and completely amazing. If you are a fan of reality TV (and I most certainly am not) maybe you are looking forward to the talentless leading the talentless, maybe that’s what passes as fun where you live…but here in Hollywood… it’s shit (big stinky, nasty, fuming horseshit!)

So what’s my general beef you ask? Why do I bother to even engage them? Because I am a filmmaker, that’s why. I do have an interest in how filmmaking is represented even on reality TV. The biggest problem with indie filmmaking as it currently stands is that everyone thinks that they can do it. And they gather this feeling from exercises like this. Where the clueless, indulge the talentless, to sell product to the tasteless. When does it end?

If you want to be a filmmaker, save up about $10K…cause that’s about what you’ll need to shoot anything that’s going to teach you a lot and be worth screening to other people. When you screen it, and the whole theater (or living room) is completely silent…try to get used to that feeling – ‘cause that’s what most of your career is going to feel like, till someone gives you some accolades. Or you could just screenwrite and not worry about the whole “shooting the film thing” …you know outsource it to the people with more of a taste for public heckling. But be sure to complain about the finished product that you care about so much but didn’t have the balls to shoot. Yeah, that’s always funny to see. Moving a cursor is one thing…moving a crew around is another.

Here is my advice to all of you that applied to this reality show and won’t get accepted. If you actually liked shooting, and writing and assembling a film; if you thought it was cool that you can just make shit up and justify it later, if you think that the only purpose for money is to make films…then continue. But please, read some technical books, go hear some filmmakers speak and watch as many films as you can (bad ones are great to learn from)… but never stop learning. The biggest issue in contemporary indie film is that everyone thinks it’s relatively easy. That’s a real big lie. What’s easy is getting in over your head and embarrassing yourself…what’s easy is spend hundred of thousands if not millions of dollars to realize that your script really isn’t that money…I mean just take a look at the shit that comes out of Hollywood….you think that was the original intention…to blow ten of millions of dollars on film that is ….boring and repetitive? Think about it!

If you want in I won’t stop you, hell I will encourage you. But what we do not need is more hacks wasting people’s time so they can “experiment” with the medium. FYI people don’t dabble in film….they lose their homes because of them. People don’t try their hand at writing a script…they end their marriages because of them. People don’t get tired of screening their film….they run out of places that are willing to screen it…and then they disappear off the face of the earth.

This is the biggest creative gamble that there is. No one really remembers a bad song a few weeks after they’ve heard it….everyone remembers a bad movie…and they will for the rest of their lives. Do not take the decision to filmmake lightly. It is a very competitive industry and there are a number of people like me…who live for it and make good sport out of the poseurs. And for the record, I don’t feel bad making fun of people…I’m preventing them from ruing their lives trying to do the nearly impossible with no formal training of understanding of what a “film” is. We call that tough love…and I love you all.

COOPRDOG

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