Last night was the
world premiere advance screening of “The Wars of Other Men,” a short film I worked on this past spring. It had to be downgraded from a world premiere to an advance screening because the film wasn’t, what’s the word I’m looking for? Oh, right: Done.
The audience was kind and forgiving, however. The whole purpose of this project was to show we could do a credible short with significant CGI sequences on a micro-tiny budget, and those suckers take time, as James Cameron could tell you. So we were missing a few, but the ones that were in there were great. This is a sci-fi war movie, set in an alternate-history early 20th century, about a small rifle squad on a mission to destroy a weapons plant. When the first threat causes them to run for cover, and they look up to see a zeppelin passing by overhead, flashing signals on a primitive mechanical sign, everybody cheered. The miracle had happened.
The narrative may have been a little confusing for total newbies, as it was missing the climactic explosion. The image is still rendering somewhere in Livonia, I guess.
We shot most of it at the Packard Plant, which lends that certain siege-of-Stalingrad look, as the makers of “Transformers 3” could tell you; they’re over there right now. A friend drove by and said they’ve constructed a passenger-train car, sticking out of a second-floor window. Yeah, well — we were there first. And all our crew had to do was cover up a few zillion square feet of graffiti tags.
This wasn’t my story or script, but I worked on it, and one of the things we hashed over was how much antique language to include. There’s something about the 21st-century American tongue that can’t quite sell a phrase like “have a care with that,” at least not to my ear. All I can say is, there’s a reason so many period pieces about ancient Rome, or wherever, take the easy way out and make everyone British. It just sounds better. And that’s no rap against our actors — I thought Brad Pitt sounded ridiculous in “Troy,” too. But all in all, the biggest incongruity to me was when one of the female soldiers (alternate history, remember) smiled, and showed a distinctly modern set of incisors. Oh, well. No money in a micro-budget for dental prostheses.
Finally, a note about the theater. It was in the Redford, on the west side of Detroit, a grand old movie house lovingly restored:
There are stars in the ceiling — you can see one in the picture. They twinkle.
And, as always, it was very cool to make the turn off West Grand River and see this:
(When Alan sees this, he’s going to say, “Three Stooges festival? Awesome!”)
So, some quick bloggage before I run:
Speaking of movies, everyone is asking me is I’m going to see “Waiting for Superman,” and the answer is: Eventually, I guess. I know enough about the film to know I disagree with its central premise — that bad schools are the fault of bad teachers, and charter schools are The Answer. Charters are a Hail Mary pass for a problem that is far, far more complicated. One of our local school-board candidates, a former teacher himself, seems to understand this. He’s running for re-election, and posted this on his campaign blog. Briefly stated, but worth reading, I think.
Today is Jolene’s birthday. Happy birthday, Jolene.
The hits just keep on coming in the housing meltdown. Look for this to blow up big — I don’t see how it can’t.
As for me, I’m outta here. Have a great weekend, all.