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Now in our fourth calendar year
PCR #195. (Vol. 4, No. 51) This edition is for the week of December 15--21, 2003.
Matt's Rail

Will and Karen's Excellent Adventure to South Florida - Part One........The Continued Death March of Locally-Produced Radio and Television
 by Will Moriaty
Lord of the Rings: Return of the King
 by Mike Smith
Held over from last week!
 by Patty G. Henderson & Terri Davis
Let Me Be "Direct", Generically-Speaking
 by Matt Drinnenberg
This And That....Mel And Jesus....Oscar Watch....Willy Sleeps With The Fishes....Beatles Notes....A Big Shout Out
 by Mike Smith
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First and foremost I must admit to laughing my arse off over all the commotion recently over whether or not someone did or did not actually "direct" a certain film that was just entered in a major contest. But once I started thinking about it seriously, I found that I was quite bothered with the whole thing. For posterity sake, I should probubly name the movie and director, but for reasons of fairness I'll try to be as generic as possible.

Now, I do have some....some.....directorial experience. Sure, it took place about 25 years ago, but I, in fact, was a director of a play in high school. This involved many aspects of the play, from knowing the entire screenplay, working on the sets, making certain the lighting was correct, specific stage placement of the actors, and the obvious...that of directing the action. To be certain, I can't begin to light a candle being held by Terence Nuzum or Andy Lalino, let along hold one to them in terms of ability. Nonetheless, it is what it is.

(Rebuttal #1: the nameless director is question was insulted when I referred to him a "stage director". Re: high school, if you had a film/video camera running in the back of your classroom while you directed your play, are you now a "movie" director? ---N)

There are many avenues, I feel, that one can take in directing. They can be completely hands-on in every phase of the game, or let the people they hired do the job they were hired for, or challenge the troup with your vision if they don't seem to get the "direction". There is also the fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants directorial effort which, eventually, will lead to less and less efforts, which is always a fortunate thing for the rest of the public.

Regarding this specific "generic" case, it seems to me that in order to chastise or call someone a cheat you should at least have for yourself the most basic information from at least more than one individual personally involved. Regardless how long and well someone feels they know someone else, proper protocol should be used in lieu of community speculation, which often times only leads to hurt feelings and worse, a sense of betrayal.

(Rebuttal #2: In case you didn't see it, the "cheat" charge has been officially retracted. However, in our defense, the testimony of the nameless director's own co-producer and starring cast member can hardly be called idle gossip. Communication breakdowns due to behind-the-scenes politics, and zealous, over-reaching, exaggerated descriptions of production help and equipment has since been more realistically shared.---N)

I'm quite certain this was not anyone's intention and to be sure we are a pop culture 'zine with explosive personalities. (Amen!)--N) I think it's one of the things that makes us unique. But still, knowledge is king in these types of circumstances, and without it you may as well point the finger in your own face for irresponsible behavior. It's okay to have an opinion, but shared opinion that is delivered as fact is not fact. All you have there is "shared opinion". Nothing more, nothing less.

(Rebuttal #3: See Rebuttal #2. The fault goes both ways.

Interestingly, and to digress for a moment, "shared opinion" is how we elect presidents and condemn criminals. And "shared opinion" defines religions. What somebody did and when has shown itself to be surprisingly up for "shared opinion" recently. Wait till the books on our band days come out for an example on what constitutes "facts" and "opinions". Should be interesting, especially if the nameless person in question contributes. ---N)

At the heart of all this, of course, is the director himself. In his "generic" defense, I have yet to see or read anything that offers any real proof that they did not have a direct impact on the movie in question. Is it not feasible that someone could hire people "in-the-know" and tell them what they are looking for? Or maybe discuss the scene with the actors and let them perform their craft, ready for approval or disapproval from the director? Or possibly pool all resources and have in depth discussion regarding the venture? Is this not directing?

(Rebuttal #4: I have since learned from fandom assembled that Terence's and my narrow description of a movie director is not widely shared, and have since capitulated. I am not at liberty to discuss more deeply the nameless case in question, but I will tell you the "Union" approach to directing a first movie is antithetical to every independent filmmaker I had ever known...until recently. They all desired to actually touch a camera. Live and learn. Woopsy.)

Just because some directors take a full plate doesn't mean all of them have to. George Lucas feels you don't need a story to make a movie. Frank Capra would strongly disagree. Both are directors, are they not? You may not care for one or the other, but their vocation is obvious.

(Rebuttal #5: Vocation-wise, sure. But who made their first movie for them? Oops...there I go again.---N)

From what I understand, the indie movie in question was not too bad and received better than marginal reviews. Since the burdon of fault would fall to the director if it was less than subpar, should not the congratulatory spoils be afforded them as well for a great first effort? Really, I don't think that's too much to ask or expect.

(Rebuttal #6: If you're saying the director would take the fall if it failed, I suppose, but the producer would be just as culpable. Farming everything out requires no talent, certainly not bravery, just some contacts, and better yet, reduces "blame" in case of failure. I respect the independents who took it upon themselves to do as much hands-on as absolutely practical, damn the torpedos. This viewpoint has gotten me in trouble, but it's what I feel, because of what's at stake. I wouldn't hire George Lucas to film a barmitzvah unless I needed CGI in it. But then I'd actually be hiring ILM, not George Lucas. Then again, he did do THX--1138, and that's a fact.

Tell ya what. I'll cop to being an elitist. There. ---Nolan)

Till next time, take care and God bless,

"Matt's Rail" is ©2003 by Matthew Drinnenberg. Webpage design and all graphics herein are creations of Nolan B. Canova. All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2003 by Nolan B. Canova.