Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Film School in an Afternoon

A long long time ago in a galaxy far, far away....
I've always felt that the best movie you could use to explain the concepts taught in film school to people would be Star Wars. (Sorry... Star Wars IV: A New Hope) After all everyone has seen it and many people love it.

But I was wrong. I've changed my mind. Maybe we should use a bad movie as an example instead.

So may I present a film school education in an afternoon. A wonderful, if slightly NSFW, look at a movie that isn't so good - The Phantom Menace. (Sorry... Star Wars I: The Phantom Menace). Put together by Mike Stoklasa it is a hilariously funny and informative look at the movie. And you will literally have the majority of a film school education given to you in just over an hour.

Trust me on this. Even if you don't want to watch the entire video do yourself a favour and watch the first part. The section on having people describing characters is priceless. You'll never look at movie characters the same way again.

Originally I wanted to make this video review part of the ongoing topic of memoirs and histories. The main link wouldn't have been the video review. Star Wars has a long and complicated history. Skywalker didn't start out as an innocent kid but as General Starkiller. The original scripts and treatments are online for anyone to read. You can dig into the evolution of a classic movie at your leisure.

Even that wasn't going to be the main focus of the post. The centrepiece was to be Michael Kaminski's Secret History of Star Wars. Over a number of years Michael put together a book detailing the twists and turns along the way as Star Wars went from an idea to a finished movie. When I first came across the book Michael was releasing it online for anyone to read. Now the book is published and it's not freely available anymore.

Which leaves an interesting question completely unrelated to Star Wars and film in general. I downloaded an older version of the book from his website with his permission. I know I don't have the rights to release and share it. He didn't explicitly mention non-re-distribution but that's assumed. But should I feel bad that I have a legally obtained copy of a manuscript that can't be freely obtained anymore? Even if I recommend the version of the book I read to others (which was interesting though some of the writing needed a good rewrite and an editor) I can't treat the book as part of The Longer Web. It's not on the web anymore.

I'm not criticizing Michael's choice. Some authors who have manuscripts online have left them freely available even when they can be bought. Others have chosen to remove their manuscripts so the only way to read them is to buy the book. I don't know which is the better choice.

Considering how much research and how much time and effort Michael Kaminski put into his opus I hope he made the right choice. For then he may be able to apply that energy to another topic and keep writing.

Maybe he should write the secret history of The Phantom Menace.

Oh... If you want to further your film education may I recommend a couple other video reviews from Red Letter Media - Attack of the Clones and Avatar.

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