It is great to be back covering local indie film. The off season found me tracking down Narco Cinema from Mexico and Barrio Indie from Texas and East L.A. There’s a ton of fun to be had with this aspect of indie and I will get to all of it in a future column. Exciting things are on the way from this emerging genre. Coming to a RedBox near you!
The first installment of the Filmstock Revolver film challenge provided local filmmakers an opportunity to break out of their comfort zone and create films in unfamiliar genres. The six challenge categories were: Scripted (script provided by FLE), Asian Homage, Say What? (Dialogue in foreign language), Hear No Evil (silent film), Music video and Mox and Dox (mocumentary, documentary). The results were pleasantly surprising, highlighting hidden talents and exploring some rarely seen styles. Here are the films in the order they were screened.
Unrequited Lover – Jeremy Clayton
A fantastic offering in the music video category, Clayton could have doubled this one in the silent film competition as well, as emotions are played and betrayed in slo-mo pantomime. A man on an elevator (Bobby Shook) suddenly finds himself between floors with a beautiful stranger and his imagination takes over. It is the moment in life Einstein once described as the best example of relativity. With original music by the Ivy Street Band, Clayton is credited with directing this film, according to FLE, but the version I saw was un-credited.
Final Take – Unrequited love in an elevator.
The Sign Spinner’s Preparatory Academy– Laurie Bell and Rock Schroeter
New faces to the local indie scene, Bell and Schroeter unleash their talented pool of young actors upon the screen in a hilarious mockumentary of the cruel, competitive, cut-throat confines of the nations top sign-spinning preparatory academy. Excellent scripting and direction throughout, but the bevy of young talent in this film hijacks the bus and takes us on a wild ride of raw emotion and side splitting comedy. You will never look at a piece of cardboard cut into the shape of an arrow the same way again.
Final Take – Academy graduates…with honors.
Kyles Mom – David Marsh and Eric (Animal) Ranney
When Ranney safely tucks the pistol back under the pillow, he shows a filmmaking side of himself that he needs to exploit to his advantage. ‘Mom’ is a simple, silly and unassuming music video that is downright addicting. Kyles mom (Linda Marsh) signs up for boxing lessons and, for no reason at all, is determined to beat up one of Kyles friends who also signed up. Mrs. Marsh was most deservedly awarded “Best Supporting Female” as the scary psycho mom that menaces with her eyes, and pummels children in the ring. Catch this little ditty and see for yourself.
Final Take – Kyles Mom is a knockout.
They Come with the Night – Bobby Shook Shook combines genres for this one, presenting a mocumentary and a Kung-Fu movie eggrolled into one. A film crew follows an acrimonious couple (Lara Houston and Ruben Angelo) as they arrive at a swanky soirée. The lights go out momentarily, then return to illuminate an all out Ninja assault on the posh party. Shook explores several film mediums and incorporates a bevy of video techniques in bringing a strangely disturbing tale of post-apocalyptic Ninja world domination. Look for a cameo by Chris Harris as the (what else?) official party photographer.
Final Take – Comedic package delivered in darkness.
The Truth Is– Pablo Huffman
In the music video category, ‘Truth’ presented a lo-res, amateur offering seemingly shot entirely on an iPhone. But ‘Truth’ was able to use its lack of high end resources to its advantage, as the grainy, pixilated images and rough edits, combined with ghetto settings, punctuated the deeply personal message delivered by rapper Deuce L, as he apologizes to his family for his past behavior, and thanks God for his recovery.
Final Take – Deuce is wild.
The End – Justin McNeil
The only film of the evening created for the silent category, McNeil astounds with a wordless, smoothly flowing, yet tensely edgy depiction of a quarrelling couple at the end of their relationship. Bursting with symbolism, the memories of a once vibrant union are presented in various ‘frames’ throughout the film. James A Lee must take a bow for superb cinematography.
Final Take – Speaking volumes in silence.
Rise Above– Mark Susan
An unremarkable music video, Susan takes it easy with a mellow ballad intercut with scenes of downtown Phoenix. Final Take – Phoenix rising.
Leviticus: Gods Law – Chris Redish
AZ indie mainstay Redish shows no signs of slowing down or backing down when it comes to politics or religion, with his relevant irreverence for all things religious and goofy. Redish takes a jab at the bible, don’t ask-don’t tell, and Arizona prop. 102 as gay soldiers and same-sex couples question the moral and biblical implications of eating shrimp. Yes shrimp. Important questions are raised such as the sinful union of 2 straight people that want to marry, yet continue to consume shellfish. Redish’s mockumentary has a Monty Python ala Jeff Foxworthy look and feel and features some of Sedona’s most colorful characters. ‘Leviticus’ took home the grand prize for ‘Best Film’ of the revolver challenge.
Final Take – Living in syntax.
Color Sick– Kenny Colt (Special Engagement)
Everything was going just fine until someone tossed this stink bomb at the screen. ‘Sick’ had a runtime of 56 minutes, color and that’s it. Color Sick did not have a plot, acting, sound, directing, editing, lighting or anything remotely capable of being called “filmmaking.” ‘Sick’ tried to be a detective story set in Arizona, and could have pulled it off with the large cast and variety of locations it presented, but with a production this incompetent, the effort was lost in a lifeless void. Colt dispenses with a blooper reel, as numerous actor flubs and major camera mistakes are left in the final cut. By far the worst film of 2011 that I have seen, and its only February. Serious props to indie newcomer Steve Marmon for delivering a consistently professional performance while treading in this shark infested cesspool.
Final Take – Color Sickening.