Category Archives: Video

Dune with Sock Puppets and Cardboard

You may recall a couple of years ago when some friends and I made a “sweded” version of the first Hobbit trailer. It made the rounds on the Internet, and a lot of people seemed to like it, so we did it again…

…with the David Lynch version of Dune.

Jerry, Brian, and I (and many very patient friends) started making this sometime in… 2012. Like the real Dune, it spiraled out of control. We went over budget by tens of dollars. It ran far over schedule. At CONvergence last year, we screened a dubious, lumbering 15-minute cut of the film.

But after all that, Jerry and I finally got together and trimmed away all the fat, and now it is here in a svelte 7 minutes of M80s, sand, and construction paper. (Of course, all of our work is seriously upstaged by Tim Wick and Chad Dutton’s work on the closing credits song… but that is how it should be.)

Next time we swede a film, it WILL be done and posted within a goddamned weekend. I SWEAR IT. The swede must flow!

One More Round for Our Hobbit Swede

Around this time last year, Jerry Belich and I teamed up with several friends to swede the first trailer for The Hobbit. We had a lot of fun messing around with a video camera, and our final result went a little viral. If you know me personally, I’ve probably made you watch our video at some point or another. I also wrote about the whole experience at length at Mad Art Lab.

However, that was a year ago, and the full movie is finally hitting the big screens. Despite my misgivings about the film itself, I had a grand time watching it in Austin, because Jerry and I were giggling our asses off whenever something we sweded appeared onscreen. It was seriously one of the most delightful experiences of my 2012.

So, I figure that our little video deserves just one more push, to celebrate the arrival of the long-awaited film. Enjoy!

Die Hard + CONvergence = SWEDE HARD!

At CONvergence 2012, I was marginally involved in a remake of Die Hard, which was filmed in one day on a budget of pocket lint and powdered sugar. After months of post-production (read: burning stuff in Jerry’s garage), it is finally here: SWEDE HARD!

If you are not familiar with the concept of “sweded” films, I have written at length about the process. In a nutshell, a group of people remake a popular movie with nothing except low-tech techniques, handmade props, and gumption. The concept originated from a Michel Gondry film called Be Kind Rewind.

The team that put together Swede Hard is a strange lot. Jerry Belich (who I collaborated with on the sweded Hobbit trailer) and Brian Quaforth wrote the script. Jerry teamed with C. Robert Cargill (aka Massawyrm on Ain’t It Cool News and co-writer of Sinister) to direct. Minneapolis comedians Kelvin Hatle, Joseph Scrimshaw, and Duck Washington lead the cast, which also includes Tim Wick, Jerry Belich, Cargill, Bill Stiteler, Eryn Sophia, and Sharon Snyder. I provided some script editing, one piece of voice work, the “pregnant lady”, some camerawork, the glass-walking gag (of which I am proud), and Everclear.

Oh, and Jeremy Messersmith provided the music. I don’t even know how that happened.

So, here’s Swede Hard! I’m pleased as punch to know these gloriously silly people.

Behold My Butt-Numb-a-Thon 14 Silliness

In December of every year, Harry Knowles of Ain’t It Cool News hosts his birthday party as a 24-hour nonstop film marathon in Austin, TX. This extravaganza is the aptly-named Butt-Numb-a-Thon, and nobody except Harry really knows what will be played. You just show up, and Harry just shows you stuff: everything from crazy vintage films to secret screenings of the latest Hollywood extravaganzas.

The thing about the BNAT, though, is that a lot of people want to go, and there are only so many seats in the theater. Thus, there is the yearly ritual of filling out the BNAT application. This is a questionaire during which you are often asked to describe who you are in the nerdiest possible terms, provide entertaining photos of yourself, and otherwise dance for Harry’s amusement. There are many reasons for this elaborate ritual. First, it weeds out people who aren’t willing to (or lack the sense of humor) work a little for a coveted ticket. Second, it builds community between BNAT hopefuls (as we are prone to gather together and share our work with one another). Third, it amuses our Mostly Benevolent Puppetmaster.

This year, there were three audio/visual components to the application process. First, you were to take a photo of yourself that explains what sort of movie nerd you are. Second, you were to take a photo of yourself that would approximate what you would look like if you weren’t chosen to attend Butt-Numb-a-Thon 14. Third, as extra credit, you were to create a video of yourself, acting out your favorite scene of your favorite movie (with bonus consideration if you managed to morph it into a reference about your favorite terrible film).

BNAT hopefuls have been gathering all week on Facebook, sharing their photos and videos. There are hours of videos strung together in a YouTube playlist, if you want to cruise everyone’s public entries.

But for now, here’s what I did.

Exhibit 1: the photo of myself as a film geek.

Self-Portrait with Death Race 2000 Car

Yes, I already showed off this photo earlier this year, but it’s entirely appropriate. I’m still worth 10 points!

Exhibit 2: What I would look like if I didn’t get an invite to BNAT 14.

BNAT Seppuku

I only realized after I took the photo and moved all the furniture back that I had been holding the knife the wrong way. I should have read the Wikipedia entry on seppuku much more closely. And I should have looked down.

Exhibit 3: A recreation of my favorite scene from my favorite movie.

That’s right. Dead Alive is indeed my favorite film of all time. Second is Lawrence of Arabia. So there.

I am extraordinarily thankful that I was able to bribe Jerry Belich into being cameraman for this video. There’s no way I could have filmed it myself in a reasonable amount of time, as my DSLR is my only proper video camera, and it’s extraordinarily fussy in terms of focus. It’s also great that Jerry and I are great collaborators and work super-fast together; there are something like 60 shot setups in this 5-minute film. We filmed all of the live stuff in the space of a couple hours. (The time-lapse and stop motion work was all me, and I did that on another evening.)

I did all the ADR myself. I’m so sorry, everyone.

Exhibit 3a: How I bribed Jerry to help me with my BNAT 14 video.

That’s right. Jerry walked up to me and said, “Will you be my John Belushi?”

I’ve been waiting my whole life for someone to say those words to me, and I didn’t even know it.

Anyway, Jerry worked on my video because I helped him with his. We filmed this in about 20 minutes at the end of a cul-de-sac near my apartment. We borrowed the black ties, but I’m now convinced we both need to have black ties of our own.

Elevator Theatre

At CONvergence 2012, a few friends of mine hatched a strange plan: they wanted to create tiny little theatrical productions, which would be enacted outside elevator doors of the convention hotel. The plays would last from when the elevator doors opened to when they would close.

This process, of course, would include alcohol consumption.

Sometime around 2 AM on one of the convention nights, I received a call to action via a text message. I was to bring my camera to one of the middle floors of the hotel’s 22-floor tower. Sauced though I was, I managed to get a couple minutes of documentary footage.

Thus, please enjoy Elevator Theatre.