Ktismatics

6 November 2008

Reruns: A Zombie Pastiche

Filed under: Ktismata, Movies, Reflections — ktismatics @ 12:16 pm

In a comment awhile back I mentioned that I was thinking about doing some sort of collaborative moviemaking project with the local high school kids. Thus far the teachers at the school have been useless (won’t respond to my emails), but the handful of kids who’ve heard about it seem fairly enthusiastic, so I’m going to move forward and see what happens. I’m putting together an email description of the proposed RERUNS Project, as well as a blog which would have as its first post something like this:

* * *

RERUNS: A Collaborative Movie Project

If you go to school at Fairview High School, how would you like to:

  • make a short video about or starring zombies,
  • collaborate with your fellow Undead moviemakers,
  • have all or part of your video included in a larger feature movie, and
  • take a bow on stage when the movie is screened in the Fairview Auditorium?

If so, then the RERUNS Collaborative Movie Project might be for you.

The Proposal

Zombie sitcoms. Zombie drama. Zombie reality shows. Zombie commercials. Zombie shopping network, art films, sports, news, soaps, cartoons, music videos — anything you want to see, 24/7, on Zombie Cable TV. The premise: a couple of the Undead are sitting on the couch watching television. These zombies might be a little slow but they’ve got short attention spans, and one of them has an active remote control reflex. Click. Click. Click. First we see the two zombies watching, then we start watching what they’re watching — bits and pieces of all sorts of programs produced for this very special viewer demographic.

So the proposal is this: a bunch of people (probably all high school students) make short videos, each of which consists of something that might be showing on one of the zombie cable channels. The video doesn’t have to be a whole episode of some imagined program — a scene or two is enough; even a short clip or highlight will do. Then we edit them all together into a single feature, a pastiche, cutting in with occasional glimpses and reaction shots of our two undead friends clicking the remote and watching this explosion of weird entertainment. The working title for the whole compilation is RERUNS.

A film festival is a competition; RERUNS is a collaboration. As you work on your script, your acting, your sets, your filming, you can ask each other for feedback and suggestions. There might be mini-workshops on techniques, guest presentations from experienced filmmakers in the community, pre-screenings of early takes, and so on. Everybody’s video gets included — or at least part of it anyway — so everybody gets their name in the credits. At the World Premiere (at Fairview High School? in March?) the dozens of undead filmmakers take a collective bow before a stunned and speechless and horrific audience…

Zombiedom is a great genre to mess with in any number of ways. Even if you’ve never made a video before, how bad can it be? — heck, it’s just a freaking zombie movie! Besides, if your movie sucks the editors will find something good in it to include in the final cut. But zombie reality can also let you stretch your skills and your imagination. The zombie world has room for plenty of diversity, so you can imagine your zombiesrevenants any way you like, from bedraggled rotting flesh to people who look like you and me.

they-jouissance

Here’s a screengrab from the 2004 French film Les Revenants, or They Came Back. The guy with his back to us looking at the woman is a zombie. What does his face look like? As videomaker you get to decide. Since the composite film is sutured together Frankenstein-like from bits and pieces, each mini-film can have its own distinctive look and feel. Zombiedom can also be an intriguing and multipurpose metaphor for contemporary life, so you can make a Grand Statement if you like. Even if your reach exceeds your grasp there’s no pressure — heck, it’s just a freaking zombie movie!

About Me

My name is John Doyle. I am not a high school student; I’m just an old guy whose daughter goes to Fairview. I like movies, even though I’ve never made one. I also like when people channel their creative energies toward a common end, bringing out the best in each other. I can be useful behind the scenes, doing organizational stuff, helping make things easier for the moviemakers. But RERUNS fails unless it’s a student-run project from start to finish.

Next Steps

Does the RERUNS project grab your imagination at all? If you want to make a video, write a script, act, do makeup, build sets, just curious, whatever — please come to the preliminary planning meeting. It will be held after school in the Fairview library on ____. If it looks like there’s enough interest we’ll come up with a plan. No fees, no requirements, no course credit, no credentials necessary — just show up.

* * *

Too pushy? Not pushy enough? Do I sound like some sort of perv luring highschoolers into my lair? Any comments or suggestions from Ktismatics readers before I go out the door with this?

UPDATE: Per a friend’s excellent recommendation I added the brief summary with 4 bullet points to the very beginning of this write-up.

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6 Comments »

  1. Sound very creative and interesting to me.

    Where is the source of your interest in zombie movies? A lifelong fetish, of sorts? A recent fascination? Or does it just seem like the best subject matter that can bring together your vision for a collaborate project?

    And how are you going to get your proposal into student’s hands?

    Comment by Erdman — 8 November 2008 @ 8:01 pm

  2. Why not zombies, is more my attitude. Though I suppose zombiedom is kind of a lifelong fetish of mine, and maybe yours too Erdman, inasmuch as the reanimation of dead flesh is the key selling point of Christianity. Then there’s Freud’s “return of the repressed,” where fears and desires considered long dead keep coming back to life — this is certainly one interpretation of Tarkovsky’s scifi zombie movie Solaris. I think there’s plenty of room to maneuver metaphorically in the zombie genre. Napoleon Dynamite is a zombie movie of a sort; so is Donnie Darko. I don’t know if I mentioned it here, but last spring I tried to get some sort of high school moviemaking collaborative going but it never got off the ground, so trying again now is the reanimation of a dead thing.

    For me the idea of compiling everybody’s mini-movies into a single bigger movie is more central than zombiedom. Trying to trigger enough passion to get something going, then using the collective effort rather than competition for fabulous prizes to bring out people’s best efforts: it’s a sort of test case for immanence. We could pull the same idea with a TV cable that shows only shopping shows, for example, where everything imaginable is on sale, or sports shows, where everything is a competition.

    Getting it into students’ hands is the challenge, which I think is the weak link on just about every one of my crackpot schemes. I’ve found one kid who’s hot on the idea, but he’s too busy making his own movies and plays to devote much effort to Reruns. Any suggestions, Erdman?

    Comment by ktismatics — 9 November 2008 @ 12:22 pm

  3. Interesting….yes, plenty of metaphorical room for maneuvering….it’s hard to think of motivation in non-competition or non-reward (non-prize) based terms…..if you want kids to sell a bunch of chocolate, you flash a prize list in front of them with some ipods and gaming systems at the top of the list…..these collaboration efforts do inspire the young a good deal more than they inspired the generation before them or the generation before them; but by “young,” usually I’m thinking post-high school. Aren’t we happy if most high school kids just to pass Algebra and make it to their Arby’s jobs on time?

    It does sound like an intriguing idea. I imagine that motivation might mean a more involved role on your part: making motivation calls, setting deadlines, brainstorming, etc.

    As I’m writing this comment, interestingly enough, there is a commercial for Left 4 Dead, a new zombie video game being released soon. There seems to be a movement on YouTube that developed a few years back to make a movie of playing a game, and then do voice overs. Maybe you could get some of the Gamers involved. Get them to record their video game play and do some voice overs to create a movie. That might be a rather easy way to fill in some footage while at the same time being more diverse and creative.

    Comment by Erdman — 10 November 2008 @ 9:21 am

  4. “it’s hard to think of motivation in non-competition or non-reward (non-prize) based terms”

    This is a big question isn’t it — to what extent do competition and rewards create the preconditions for creativity? This is the capitalist argument isn’t it? My question is whether the creative impulse isn’t being coopted and ultimately thwarted by following the “Green Path” of money and power rather than the “Black Path” of passion and calling.

    “these collaboration efforts do inspire the young a good deal more than they inspired the generation before them or the generation before them”

    I wonder whether the collaborative inspiration gets short-circuited by the marketplace, which seems to intrude at earlier and earlier ages. There’s the Hollywood-style deal-maker trying to make big box office, and on the other hand there’s the indie loner filmmaker. Why must the indies enter competitions in order to get their movies watched? What about people working together to make something good, and audiences supporting them?

    Don’t get me wrong: I expect there is a competitive instinct in all of us, and it can stimulate us to greater effort and accomplishment. But even competing can’t exist without cooperation: after all, the competitors have to agree on what game they’re playing. Consider the word itself: competition = com+petition = seeking or striving together. In the corporate world people work together (more or less) toward common objectives.

    Getting the gamers involved is fine, but it depends on my finding the gamers in the first place. This is the challenge: how to locate people when I’m neither a student nor a teacher. I have found one kid who seems gung-ho but who seems already to have “gone rogue,” trying to pull together a whole Dream Team of local movie pros and PR guys toward some unknown purpose. He reminds me of the kid in Rushmore if you’ve seen that one — my daughter asked if that makes me the Bill Murray character (lol). I suppose in a way I am kind of Murrayesque, a little nervous around manic types.

    Comment by ktismatics — 10 November 2008 @ 10:07 am

  5. What about working with the local high school? Perhaps you could start an “official” school-sponsored program (perhaps of the after school variety) or even a for-credit class. Would that possibly work? Or have you written too many complaint letters to the principal……he, he, jk!

    Comment by Erdman — 10 November 2008 @ 6:58 pm

  6. I made an initial foray into the high schools in the spring, emailed all the teachers who teach film-related courses and sponsor film clubs at the two high schools, asking them to either forward my email or send them to a blog I built outlining a possible high school filmmaking project/festival for the summer. I heard from one kid, who had already made a feature-length film. None of the teachers wanted to meet with me or expressed any interest in follow-up contact. Either it’s me or it’s them.

    Comment by ktismatics — 11 November 2008 @ 2:32 am


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