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Transcript - Top 5 Movies about Making Movies (Cinemassacre)

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James Rolfe: When we watch movies we don't often think about the hard work that goes into making them – unless the movie itself is about making movies. There's many examples to choose from, like "Singin' in the Rain". In this movie we're shown the technical troubles that Hollywood went through when they switched from silent films to sound.

(A clip from "Singin' in the Rain" is briefly shown)

Roscoe Dexter: Now wait a second, Mr. Simpson! Talking pictures?! I think you should wait… 

R.F. Simpson: Every studio's jumping on the bandwagon, Dexter. All the theaters are putting in sound equipment. We don't wanna be left out of it. 

James: "King King" is another example, this time all fiction obviously. Carl Denham is trying to make a movie but he's so obsessed that he actually brings danger to his whole crew and then to the city of New York. Wether fiction or reality, filmmaking is nothing but trouble and these are my picks – the ones that focus on the filmmaker and all the sacrifices they have to make to achieve their dream. It's Cinemassacre's "Top 5 Movies about Making Movies". 

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#5 - Shadow of the Vampire

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James: Even though this is all fiction it uses a real-life movie as its basis; "Nosferatu", which is the oldest surviving "Dracula" film from 1922. It's a clever choice because that movie was so long ago who knows what happened on the set. They do a great job recreating all these scenes. John Malkovich plays the director F. W. Murnau. He's determined to make an authentic vampire movie, so he casts a real vampire for the part, Max Schreck who's played by Willem Dafoe. The vampire is not easy to work with at all. That's the sacrifice he has to make for his art, that he has to deal with an extremely difficult actor. Even worse, he endangers the lives of everybody. 

F. W. Murnau: Why him, you monster?! Why not the… script-girl?! 

Max Schreck: The script-girl… I'll eat her later. 

James: But Murnau has so much passion for the film he just pushes ahead. It's brilliant dark comedy – you never know if you're supposed to laugh or not. But it shows truth that when you're so committed to your own project the world around you stops functioning right. 

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#4 - Living in Oblivion

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James: For a little low-budget film it goes a long way. It's divided into three parts, combining black-and-white footage with color and centers around the making of a fictional film that's going to hell. Everything that could possibly go wrong goes wrong – from technical problems to personal relationships on the set. 

(A beeping noise from a watch is heard throughout a recording session)

Assisting camera: It's somebody's watch! 

James: Steve Buscemi plays the director and he's just in the center of a whirlwind of madness. When he flips out you really believe it. 

Nick Reve: Where is it? … Cock-sucking motherfucking bastard, where are you?! Hey, hey, focus puller! I got some good thai stick! You wanna go fucking smoke one or you wanna pay attention here?! What are you laughing at, Wolf? You fucking pretentious, beret-wearing motherfucker! Hey, I saw your reel, man. It sucked!! 'The fuck would hire you anyway? Hey, Bob! Hey, Bob!! Can you make a little noise on the fucking dolly, huh?! You creaky motherfucker!! 

James: Some of the actors don't cooperate either. There's this one guy who's the star; he's real cocky and he wants to take control of everything. Then there's this guy making fun of one of the worst movie clichés. 

Tito: The only place I've seen dwarves in dreams is in stupid movies like this! "Oh, make it weird, put a dwarf in it". Everyone will go "Whoa, whoa, whoa! This must be a fucking dream, there's a fucking dwarf in it"!? Well, I'm sick of it! You can take this dream sequence and shove it up your ass!! 

James: It's funny and entertaining all the way through. But you also start to feel like you're part of the production. You can feel the frustration and the chaos that's going on. Filmmaking is a nightmare and not everything goes the way it's planned. But sometimes you just gotta step back and laugh at the whole thing. As Steve Buscemi's character learns; you just gotta roll with it. 

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#3 - Be Kind Rewind

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James: This is a movie I relate to so much. The title alone reminds me of the old days when you rent a VHS-tape from the video store and you had to rewind it. That's exactly what this movie is about; a video store that's going downhill. They still rent VHS-tapes and then one day every tape in the whole store gets erased. The explanation of how it happens is totally unpredictable and original. But anyway, the employee and his friend, whom are played by Mos Def and Jack Black, have to remake every movie in the store, starting with "Ghostbusters"

(A scene from their remake of "Ghostbusters" is briefly shown)

James: All they have is a VHS-camera and no other actors to work with, so they just have to do it on their own. 

Jerry (as Robocop, before he gets shot): That's it. I'm taking you downtown. 

James: They spend no money on special-effects – it's all blunt creative force. Some of the things they do are actually pretty crafty. 

(Their remake of "2001: A Space Odyssey" is briefly shown)

James: Remaking a movie on such a humble scale they call 'sweeded' and I think it's wonderful. I plan on sweeding a movie whenever I can get five minutes. 

(Their remake of "King Kong" is briefly shown)

James: But more trouble happens. The copyright lawyers slam down on them and the video store is threatened to be renovated. So they grab together all of their friends and make their own original movie. They screen it in the store on a blanket while the wrecking crew waits outside to demolish the building. When I see all those glowing faces looking at what they've accomplished that's the moment I realized "Wow, I'm emotionally attached to this". I just thought it would be a funny little movie with Jack Black goofing around that parodies other movies, but it touched me on a personal level. It reminds me of the movies I made growing up. I even had the same exact camera that they're using. This is a movie that taps into a culture of zero-budget filmmaking. A movie that comes out and says "Anybody can be a filmmaker". 

Mr. Fletcher: When I was your age my balls were flapping so hard I had to scrape them off the ground and beg them to come home with me. 

Mike: Come on, balls. Come on. 

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#2 - Ed Wood

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James: I already talked about this movie in my series of Ed Wood reviews, so I don't want to repeat myself too much. Again we're dealing with the real-life director, the king of B-movies, Ed Wood. It chronicles the making of three of his most notorious films "Glen or Glenda", "Bride of the Monster" and "Plan 9 from Outer Space"

Ed Reynolds: That cardboard headstone tipped over. This graveyard is obviously phony.  

Ed Wood: Nobody will ever notice that. Filmmaking is not about the tiny details – it's about the big picture. 

James: It does a great job at recreating the look of all these films. The black & white photography is glorious, the music is magnificent and it has that overall style that only Tim Burton could give it. Martin Landau plays horror-icon Bela Lugosi to a teeth. It's almost like he's come back from the grave. It not only focusses on the hardships of Ed Wood, but Bela too. There's a lot of sadness in this movie as well as comedy. In the end it picks you up and makes you feel good. And even though Ed Wood was called the 'worst director' and he had a lot of problems, he never gave up and never gave in because visions are worth fighting for. 

Ed Wood: Mr. Reynolds. 

Ed Reynolds: Yes. 

Ed Wood: We are going to finish this picture just the way I want it, because you cannot compromise an artist's vision. 

Reverend Lemon: But it's OUR money. 

Ed Wood: And you're gonna make a bundle, but only if you shut up and let me do things my way. 

James: And now for my favorite. Number 1… "American Movie", man. 

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#1 - American Movie

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James: It's a documentary about a filmmaker, Mark Borchardt, who's trying to make a movie with the help of his loyal pal, Mike Schank. 

Mark Borchardt: Would you buy this movie for $14.95? 

Mike Schank: Yeah, hell yeah, man. You know… 

Mark Borchardt: If I can find 3.000 people like you across this country, man, I'm in business. 

James: There's something about this I can't explain – something so down to earth and real I consider it my filmmaking bible. The things Mark says are like a stream of conscientiousness; it doesn't always come out right, but it makes perfect sense. 

Mark Borchardt: Check it out! Beautiful, stunning black & white shot right now at the magic-hour. As we float past the lapidated duplexes worn trailer corps. And I've been location scouting, so when I do 'this' I've already got what's in-between my hands. 

James: And Mike is so friendly and everything he says you just hang on to his words. 

Mark Borchardt: Your smiling face. What the hell have you got to say for yourself, man…?

Mike Schank: Happy Thanksgiving. 

Mark Borchardt: Happy Thanksgiving, man. What have you got to say for yourself? 

Mike Schank: Nothing really… 

Mark Borchardt: What you got in that bag? 

Mike Schank: Soda. 

Mark Borchardt: Soda?! 

Mike Schank: Yeah… 

James: Mark and Mike are two funny motherfuckers. I think of them as a comedy duo, like Abbott and Costello or Jay and Silent Bob, except they're actually funnier. 

Mark Borchardt: Why is it a sign of voodoo? 

Mike Schank: It's an unnatural cross, Mark. It's not like, uh… 

Mark Borchardt: What, you think when Jesus was hanging there, he thought it was natural? 

James: And they're not even scripted – they're real people. The director Chris Smith just happened to catch lightning in a jar, repeatedly for at least an hour and a half. 

Mark Borchardt: They're making a mockery out of my words, man. This whole thing is turning out to be a theatrical mockery. You understand that, Mike? 

Mike Schank: No, heh… 

Mark Borchardt: Well, you will. 

James: I've seen it so many times and it's so burned into my brain I compulsively quote lines from this movie on a daily basis. How can I help myself? It's the most quotable movie in existence. 

Mark Borchardt: I'm 30 years old and in about 10 seconds I gotta start cleaning up somebody's shit, man. 

James: I can relate to Mark and all the trouble he goes through trying to finish the movie. He even has to get his mom to act. 

Mark Borchardt: Fuck it, man. I think my mom is gonna have to end up going out in the woods. I mean it's just one of those things. 

Mark's mom: I have my shopping to do… 

Mark Borchardt: I know, but this is the last day I can shoot. All of the extras has just felt through, man. 

James: Even MY mom can relate to this because I've done the same thing. Then there's Uncle Bill, spitting out comedy gold. 

Mark Borchardt: Take 30! 

Uncle Bill: It's alright, it's okay… This, uh… Jesus told me so… Something to live for… 

Mark Borchardt: Okay, cut! Take 31. 

Uncle Bill: This is for the shits and for the birds… This is for the birds. 

James: It's not all 100 percent comedy; there is sadness in it. But it shows hope to pursue your aspirations against all odds – according to Mark that's the american dream and this is the "American Movie"

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