Movies in the 1960s…

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Steven Soderbergh just completed a second feature film using an iPhone exclusively. Very cool. This could be a big break for budding filmmakers and continue to flood the world of film / movies with even more.

The Hollywood blockbuster ruled.

Before streaming, film experts reported that there were more films made than there were screens to display them on – that was the late 1980s. Enter streaming and millions of films. The amount and size of flat screens increases and even though 4-walling movies (on theaters) does not begin to cover the volume of film home theater is attempting to meet the challenge.

As a Boomer I remember when cinema was a big deal. The Hollywood blockbuster ruled. There was a theater in a city south of my little town named the CineMart. They had ushers in red uniforms and hats that seated folks. Movies like “The Sound of Music”, Lawrence of Arabia” and Dr. Zhivago” played for a whole month or more.

“You can’t make movies, they only do it in Hollywood.”

Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey” played for a whole summer in 1968. Music from the film played before the movie started. There were no short subjects, no previews and no ads – for anything. When the logo of Metro Goldwyn Mayer appeared on the screen the curtain parted as the film played.

There was an Intermission announced across the wide 70 mm screen and for 15 of 20 minutes music from the film played. People stayed until the credits ceased and the house lights came up. Even in my small town we saw Oscar winning shorts before the feature and slews of cartoons – mostly “Looney Tunes”.

That didn’t stop us

Movies were special. And of course there was a catch. My friend Paul and I made movies, mostly very bad movies. When we tried to get classmates to be in our very bad movies they invariably said: “You can’t make movies, they only do it in Hollywood.”

That didn’t stop us. Our High School Art teacher Mrs. Bernarzyk told us about the Fordham’s Young Filmmaker Festival in NYC in February 1968. Our bad movie – The Chase was our ticket in. It was very cool – movies day and night for 3 days. I met these geeky guys from Long Island make 3-D animation Godzilla films with models in their basements. The first YFF was during the first garbage strike in the cold and snow of February.

We saw a pre-screening of Planet of The Apes, cool.

I went home and made films with 3-D (pixilation) animation with chairs, sneakers, laundry baskets, rocks and sometimes with people too.

The last film I made in those days – King Chair that took 3 eight hour days to make was distributed with 2 other shorts and the only project where I made a $45 profit.

…. Later I adapted a James Thurber story – Unicorn in the Garden to a 20-minute plot-boiler of “Alien in the Refrigerator”

My story of the movies…

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newscopythe flow of the stuff in my head…

About the age of 15 or 16 my best friend Paul D. and I got together to make a movie. We wrote a script based on our goofy sense of humor and our favorite movies of Sean Connery as 007. Our character was James Notch 008 and ½ based on the Notch Store on the west side of Cheshire with a 67 page script maybe (it was a long time ago). It was a movie that never got made.

 

“Everybody knows they only make movies in Hollywood,”

classmates told us.

 

Coincidentally the Notch Store was the backdrop for the final scene in a film directed by Paul Newman called Rachel, Rachel in 1968 and was nominated for 4 Oscars including Best Picture (it didn’t win any Oscars).

I threw myself on the floor and rolled around. I moaned, I whined until she (my mom) agreed.

The next film that Paul and I filmed didn’t have a script. It was just visual ideas I had that I thought would look good strung together. It was a silent color film shot on a Double 8mm film made with a wind-up camera with three twists lenses and had variable shooting speeds. Back in the days of film – sound films were shot at 24 frames per second and silent films at 18 frames per second. Shoot at slower speeds and everyone would speed up. Shoot at faster speeds and slow-motion happens.

I convinced a girl down the street who was a year older than me to be in the film. She was the good guy with a white cowboy hat. I shot that first scene at sunset. The camera was on the ground, which meant I was on the ground too. She ran towards the camera hat on and she brandished the gun (an unloaded Luger my Father had as a souvenir from WWII) and jumped over me. She refused to be in the film after that. I even offered to pay her, but she said no. It was okay to use that footage she told me, mainly because she was in silhouette and no one could see her face.

After that I pleaded with my mom to be in the movie. I threw myself on the floor and rolled around. I moaned, I whined until she agreed. And she did. Phil B my best friend (the trio of nerdy guys – me, Paul and Phil) was the villain, though he looked like an innocent kid.

The Fordham’s Young Filmmakers Festival of 1968 in NYC

It was called: The Chase and it was awful. It was about 40 minutes too long. There were two special effects. My mom shoots at Phil and his black beret whips off his head. I used a fishing pole with some line. We shot all the scenes with my mom with slow film speeds so she looked like a lone Keystone Cop running in long shots that were way too long. And there was a car chase with one long POV (point of view) shot from the car, very boring.

The dying scenes were hilarious because my mom and Phil hammed it up.

Our art teacher suggested we send it to the Fordham’s Young Filmmakers Festival in NYC. We did and the only good thing about the movie was our entry into the festival. It was in 1968 in the winter during the first garbage strike. John Lindsay was major.

I learned so much about films and Paul and I had a good time – away from parents for a whole weekend. We saw a pre-screening of The Planet of The Apes with Charlton Heston.

When I returned I began studying film – Ingmar Bergman, Truffaut, Godard and American Film. I started a film club of watching great films and making small films, though we never got around to watching the great films.

I made one successful short film of 3 minutes made via pixilation or 3D animation (now CGI would be used). It was called King Chair. It made a $45 profit and was shown all over the world. When I asked my mom to be in subsequent movies she agreed if I was never to show her face.

I was thinking about going to go to New York University Film School and was toying with schools focusing on Creative Writing but my Guidance Counselor didn’t have the bravery to tell me that my SAT scores abysmally low. She brought me to the lounge of the other Guidance Counselors for their support in telling me. (Who was supporting me?). They basically said I was too stupid to get a BA and should settle for a BFA in film. I was angry and decided to let go of film school for a BA in English.

Writing pervaded my life.

I got side-tracked into psychology and ended up graduating from one of the top 20 universities in the US with a 3.2 cumulative average. I guess that proved I wasn’t stupid. I got a BA in Psychology with 2 Minors – one in English Literature and the other in Philosophy.

Writing pervaded my life. I tried going back into film in the mid to late 80s. I met Robert Altman who gave me an obscure window into his next film but I was too stupid to get it. (Maybe the guidance counselors were right – I was “too stupid”). His next film was The Player.

I’m still writing and doing my other work that I had surrendered into – as a healer. Being a healer/shaman/astrologer is something I have been doing formally since 1990. I have a fantasy novel that is being readied for publication – The Green Man of Destiny and I have been working on a series of 9 science-fiction novels.

Throughout it all I love stories and I love making-up and writing stories. I only wish I could transfer the images I see in my head to the reader’s head or the film goer, but I love the texture and wobble of words to send the images.