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Saturday, March 25, 2006

The Perils of Independent Film Production

One can learn quite a few things about independent filmmaking at places like USC Film School or the Sundance Film Festival. You have to finance your production in creative ways. You need to be flexible in the way you cast and shoot the film... Useless crap like that.

However, there are some very important things they don't teach you. One is that if you decide to shoot a low budget production simulating gun battles and standoffs, that you might want to inform the local constabulary in advance, lest they decide to jack you up in the parking lot.

A bunch of high school filmmakers in Fernanadina Beach, Florida learnt this very lesson on Thursday evening when they descended on the local post office to do a film for their school Spanish club. Someone saw some of the students entering the building with toy guns and then, after a few calls to the building went unanswered, rang the local police, who showed up in enough force to do battle with one of the Medellin cartels, and made the students "assume the position" as they left the facility.

I'm not sure why toy guns were necessary for a Spanish film club, unless perhaps they were remaking the Brian De Palma version of Scarface ("Diga 'Hola' a mi amigo pequito!"), but clearly not even the bright orange plastic that toy weapons are required to have on the end of them these days is enough to dissuade some people from overcautiousness.

The students did get the permission of the local postmaster in advance. He gave it under the assumption that the sight of young people invading a local federal building en masse with imitation weapons and speaking a language other than English wouldn't "frighten" the local citizenry. In restrospect, this kind of capacity for logical reasoning explains a great deal about the U.S. Postal Service.

The AP reports in the linked article that the director of the independent "film", one Devon Menendez stated that he would not be accepting any offers to direct additional films. Of course not; even the most famous directors have run across some very dictatorial producers, but how many of them ever pointed a .357 at Hitchcock's head and told him to hit the ground or we'll blow your ******* head off? Besides David O Selznick, I mean.

If Stephen Speilberg had been roughly thrown to the ground and had an assault rifle pointed at his head by the L.A.P.D. while filming Sugarland Express, Jaws might have been adapted by John Landis. The massive car chase at the end would have been all wrong.


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