I know what you’re thinking. Mondays suck, he’s run out of things to be happy about, hence this entry. Au contraire, friends.
One of the benefits of freelance (and the drawbacks) is that you can work around the clock. Feel like working, do it. Feel like taking a break, do it. Just make sure you handle your business, hit your deadlines, and maintain your professionalism. Freelancing is the ultimate ROWE. As a result, I’m reading more comics (or rather, catching up on years of backlog in some cases) and watching more movies.
I’ve written before about my love of Netflix‘s Watch Instantly service. It has its downfalls too, and they lie mainly in limited availability and the temptation to watch anything because there’s nothing more invested of you than the time and the clicking of a button. There’s plenty of great stuff on there, and I have over 200 movies ready to go. But sometimes I just surf through and find things.
This weekend I watched Garden Party, Conversation(s) with Women, and even the remake of Prom Night. But these were far from the worst of what I saw in the past week. The ultimate bad movie was taped off of one of the premium channels on our DVR, Wayne Kramer’s seminal classic, Running Scared, starring the incomparable Paul Walker.
I can’t even begin to tell you how bad Running Scared is. It has Paul Walker, which is always the kiss of death. It has a ridiculous style, to the point where inconsequential cuts, freeze frames, and rewinds take over and ruin any semblance of story. At one point, during a supposedly tense and pivotal moment, the film goes off the reel and begins to burn. Just when I thought the film, which began poorly and took a steady nose dive into awful, couldn’t get any worse… The last twenty minutes is a rousing chorus of cliche.
It’s so bad that it made me forget that there have ever been good movies.
But here’s what I took away. During the opening scene, when I was already being taken out of the movie by its shit style and worse writing, I jotted down some notes. One thing they did gave me an idea for something totally different, and has now become the concept I most want to develop in terms of original IP.
Bad films often have the power to inspire. When someone does it wrong, you just want to grab the wheel and take control. Put these fools in their place and show them how its done. When I can’t come up with ideas (which isn’t often a problem), I now know I can just put on a bad movie and let the wellspring floweth.
Beyond that, bad movies also allows for lessons. Not every movie has a lesson in it, but most with any aspirations at telling a story do. What they did right, wrong, forgot, confused, etc. You get to see it all played out. Their mistakes become your laboratory. And if you’re astute enough, if you’ve got the stomach to make it through… Film school is a Blockbuster Exclusive rental away.
Mini-lessons from each movie:
Garden Party – Give your story and the actions of your characters consequence, don’t try to be Altman-lite.
Conversation(s) – A gimmick can make a visually uninteresting movie more interesting, but you can overuse a gimmick.
Prom Night – Pretty people don’t instantly communicate characters, or even archetypes; give someone a goal.
Running Scared – Don’t. Just don’t.