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Fly Filmmaking

Today, I went to see the Fly Filmmaking Festival, an annual staple of the Seattle International Film Festival where directors are given ten days along with a set of other restrictions (such as just 5 hours of tape) to make a ten minute film. In years past, this apparently has been devoted to documentaries on subjects drawn out of a hat. This year, it fetured narative films with open subjects, but with requirements including a location, an actress, a prop, and an action that had to appear in the film. The first film, about a girl who can’t drive, called Driver’s Ed, I enjoyed. It was mindless, but fun, and used the ten minutes well enough. Nothing to rave about, though. The second film was called …Loving Martha, about a man disenchanted with his life as an office worker who falls in love with a copy machine. It was an interesting idea, but not as well executed as the first film. The third film was a disgrace. Called “Circus of Infinity,” its attempt at creating art fell flat and fell hard. It was a real shame they chose to end with such a terrible film. But yes, it got worse. Afterwards, the directors came up, as did several “on the fly” critics. Well, there was no critiquing going on, just adolation. Since about half the audience were somehow involved in the making of the movies, I suppose it was the only PC thing to do at the time. Still, this is definitely a SIFF production I’ll be happy to miss in the future.

2 Responses to “Fly Filmmaking”

  1. Jackass Japanola Says:

    Dearest Ryan,

    I am the director of Circus of Infinity and I am curious what you found so disgraceful about the film. I thought I was telling a story but you apparantly thought I was busy trying to “make art”. Mmmmm. I don’t know what that means. I am very curious to see all the films you have made so I may learn from you. What fabulous and artfully crafted movies will you share with me? I look forward to watching your productions. Thank you for your ten bucks.

    Terribly yours,

    Jackass Japanola

  2. Ryan Says:

    Dear Sue (I assume),

    I am not a particularly astute movie-goer, nor am I a student of the art. However, I make no such claims, so I don’t feel that I’m defrauding anyone when I give my honest opinion about a film I watched. All this was intended to be was an honest transcript of my feelings about the films I watched. It is not a critique of your skills or abilities as a filmmaker (although I do feel that this film failed to meet my criteria for enjoyment).

    I figure it might be like me and a math problem. I’m usually pretty good at math, but sometimes I make a big mistake and the result is a terrible mess. In such a case, I don’t think less of the teacher for marking me down for that problem. Nor would I think less of a student in a less advanced class for questioning my abilities because the student didn’t understand the more advanced mathamatical concepts I used to solve a problem. I may be like that teacher, calling out what is indeed a bad film. Or I may be that student, questioning the worthiness of a film because I failed to understand its technique. Considering my (in)experience with film, the student possibility is probably more likely. But I still like to fancy myself the teacher, and I still think the film was not worth my time. I’m not afraid to say it.

    Now, to answer your questions both asked and implied.

    The film was a disgrace because it shared the same screen as two films which did deserve the praise they recieved. It was a disgrace to the other directors who took the same restrictions and spun something worth watching (maybe just once). It was a disgrace because I paid good money to see something that was not worth seeing. Now, bear in mind that your film was not the lowlight of the screening – the after-film “critique-on-the-fly” took that honor. But “Circus of Infinity” did come in second by quite a distance.

    What I meant by “make art” was that the film sacrificed the concrete for the abstract. A lot like the scene in Philadelphia, where Tom Hanks/Andrew Beckett listens to the opera and the screen goes all red. There, the film was attempting to “make art.” Where the comparison falls apart is that it worked in Philadelphia. It added to the film, in my opinion. In Circus of Infinity, I thought it didn’t add to the film. In fact, I think I said that the attempt in Circus of Infinity “fell flat and fell hard.” And I meant that. I hope this point is clear now.

    If you are serious about seeing the films I have made, then visit I have a few in there, under the video section. I don’t think any of them are terribly well done, so I’m not sure if you’ll learn anything from them.

    Bear in mind that I never claimed to be a better filmmaker than you, nor even to have the ability to create a single film better than Circus of Infinity. But saying that because I lack this ability that I should not be able to say a film was terrible is ludicrous. If I go to a concert, and the orchestra badly botches the concerto they play, I can call the performance terrible even if I can not play a violin.

    So please don’t get high and mighty on me. When you submit a piece of your work to the public, you have to accept what people think of it, good or bad. I am part of that “people.” If you don’t like my opinion, feel free to ignore it. But the fact of the matter is I felt that Circus of Infinity was a film not with my time or my money. If anything good is to come from that assessment, I don’t know, but I think that is really up to you.

    Yours Truly,


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