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October 9, 2015

On The Lot: Contestant Films - Round 2 (continued)

by JJ Hawkins, posted Jul 4th 2007 2:17AM
Adriana and the directors

Last week a reader by the name of Videophile posted a link in the comments to this YouTube video noting the similarities between it and Zach's film Die Hardly Working.

After watching the film, I tend to agree and encourage you to have a look for yourself.

I'm not accusing Zach of stealing from the SecretFunTime crew, but the video was posted on their site on May 1st and apparently, Zach only shot this film last week. Also, On The Lot didn't start airing until May 23rd which presumably means Zach could have seen the video before leaving to participate on the show. Just something to think about.

I apologize for the rampant conspiracy theorizing. I have to keep myself interested in this show somehow.

Now that that's out of the way, Adriana and Garry Marshall immediately let us know that David and his terrible sexual comedy were going home this week. Good riddance.

I'm giving up on trying to make suggestions on ways to improve this stinker. Let's just get right to the movies.

This week's guest judge was Eli Roth, writer and director of gorefests such as Cabin Fever and the Hostel movies.

#1 - Kenny - The Malibu Myth

Synopsis: Two friends try to solve a myth.

Carrie - That's your most accessible film for me. I thought that it was good compared to your other stuff.
Eli - I thought you did a great job. Buildup was better than the actual attack, but it had good tone and mood.
Garry - I'm glad I moved from Malibu. Tempo was good and it scared me.

Wait, so four people die on a particular street, a couple actively seeks out that spot, finds a dead body on the road, and decides to examine and touch the body? That makes perfect sense. So does the fact that Kenny needs to go the bleep home next week. Everyone was right. I was wrong. He's a hack.

#2 - Sam - Anklebiters

Synopsis: A boy encounters strange creatures in his bedroom.

Carrie - I believed the puppet. I thought you did very well with it. The prologue was like a whole other movie, but I thought it was really good.
Eli - It was great. The attack was really good, but the prologue gave too much away.
Garry - I love horror movies where the person is alone. You scared me. You stood your ground and made a very solid film.

It's low expectations night on On The Lot ladies and gentlemen. The judges liked this film and Kenny's film, and I found them both to be utter tripe. The puppet looked...like a puppet. and Eli and Garry were right. The prologue gave way too much away. I'm wildly underwhelmed thus far. Oh, but I did like the guy from the Thriller video narrating the beginning of the movie.

#3 - Andrew - Midnight Snack

Synopsis: Demon makes a sandwich.

Carrie - It wasn't horror so much as Rocky Horror. Truly entertaining.
Eli - I think it's difficult to do a comedy and horror. You overdid the lightning and music. Kind of like a "got milk" commercial.
Garry - You did a good job filming it.

Neither funny nor scary. I'm seriously starting to hate this show.

#4 - Jason - Eternal Waters

Synopsis: Kid saves his mother posthumously.

Carrie - I thought you did a great job. First scary moment in a movie tonight for me. Favorite thing of yours so far.
Eli - I think the problem was the mother. Too young. That hurt your film.
Garry - Sensational. I liked it very much.

The mom looked way too young and the story was a little contrived. That said, this was probably the best of the four films so far tonight, and definitely Jason's best showing.

#5 - Shira-Lee - Open House

Synopsis: A couple out house hunting encounters a ghost.

Carrie - Good performance out of actors, but it didn't really scare me that much. Hard to sell ghosts during the day. Don't think it really worked.
Eli - Continually forced the music, but I thought the tag was really nice.
Garry - I liked that you didn't use a lot of gore. There was no conflict though. You do comedy much better.

Holy crap! The mom in this movie looked like she was 15-months pregnant with quadruplets. Should she really be out house hunting? She needs to see her OBGYN stat. Oh, and the movie was bad too.

#6 - Mateen - Profile

Synopsis: African-American male imagines being racially profiled and beaten by white cops.

Carrie - Really good performances out of your actor. You shot it well.
Eli - Many shifting points of view ending with the moon, and it felt a little disconnected.
Garry - More horrifying than horror. Very admirable and a brave try. Might need to make it more accessible.

Mateen pulled a Marty and decided to make the movie that he wanted to make instead of the movie he was told to make. His interpretation of the genre "horror" was a extremely loose despite the fact that the subject matter of his film was pretty horrible. Well shot, and nice acting, however, I still think he should be penalized for not adhering to the rules of the competition.

Favorites of the night:

Carrie - Midnight Snack
Wes - The Malibu Myth
Garry - Eternal Waters
JJ - Adriana Costa

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As boring as the films were tonight, at least Adriana looked wonderful as usual, and one of my current favorites (Mr. Roth) was a guest judge.

So...there's two pluses.

Can't wait to get to next week, where the real talents are.

July 05 2007 at 6:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Actually, as much as I have contempt for Eli Roth's films, and think he's really full of himself, I have to say that he is the first guest judge to really give honest and insightful reviews.

I'm glad he didn't let the contestants have a free pass at the stuff they ripped off for their films. By pointing out each (much better) movie that was used as inspiration, he was attempting to point out just how crappy each of this week's films were.

The worst sin this show commits, in my opinion, is simply judging the films against the other films that week, rather than judging the films against real films. At your local film festival or 48 Hour Film Project, the only thing that matters is that you're the best of all the other crappy films that your local peers have produced (and I've produced my share of crappy local contest films and even rose to the top of the crappy pile in a couple of them). But on THIS show, which is supposed to be finding the best talent to give a million dollars to in order to produce real films that they hope mass audiences will go see, only Zach is REMOTELY showing the sort of talent or creativity that leads me to believe he has the ability to create something audiences might want to pay money to see.

So I applaud Eli Roth for saying "Hey... I liked your film a lot better when it was called the Hills Have Eyes".

July 05 2007 at 1:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Here's how I rate the 6 films:

Kenny: Film sucked, Adriana looked great afterwards.

Sam: Film sucked, Adriana came back on stage and became girl of my dreams.

Andrew: Film sucked, couldn't wait for Adriana.

Jason: Didn't see film, fast forwarded to Adriana.

Shira-Lee: ditto

Mateen: Didn't see film, ah, private matter.

July 05 2007 at 12:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Did anybody else notice that Eli Roth was a total prick? Why did he point out examples of similar horror films for every single short? Were we supposed to be impressed?

"Yes, your film was one-tenth Hills Have Eyes mixed with nine-tenths Scream and a dash of Mary Poppins. And by the way, I have no useful comments other than showing my ability to make reference to crappy old horror movies."

July 05 2007 at 12:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

What was the name of the actress who played the blonde mother in Jason's "Eternal Waters"? I swear I've seen her before. It's driving me nuts.

July 04 2007 at 10:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I can't begin to describe how much I think Kenny is one of the worst filmmakers I've even seen. It hit me the first week, and has been further reinforced week after week. He should have gone home a long time ago. Why the judges are so nice to him, I'll never understand. The guy cannot make a coherent film. I'd much rather watching 24 hours of straight Uwe Boll films rather than see another film from Kenny.

July 04 2007 at 9:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I was glad someone pointed out the connection between Simon Pegg's Spaced, but the truth of the matter is that this concept has been done before, even on a commercial for Xbox 360, you can not claim it to be stealing, its like that south park episode about how the "Simpson's did it" all format has been done before, you can find similarities in everything if you really feel the need to look.

July 04 2007 at 12:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I agree with all the comments already posted. I'm pretty much only watching this show now to see who wins and to see if by any miracle that someone comes up with a short film that's remotely interesting (verdict: not this week).

I've actually now swung all the way from wanting Kenny gone to wanting him to go as far as possible. Even though based on his talent he shouldn't have even made it into the top 10,000, I'm starting to look forward to his films to see just how bad they are going to be. He didn't disappoint again this week. On a technical level, the one thing he consistently does that none of the judges ever call him on, is that he never leaves text up on the screen long enough to read it.

And about the similarity of Zach's film to the other two examples. Agreed that they all use the exact same idea, with the "Two Old Friends" one being the best of the three examples (admittedly, the one from Spaced is from a TV show episode, so shouldn't be judged as a stand-alone work).

But in defense of the latter two, who among us hasn't engaged in a finger gun battle in their lives? The reason why all three of these shorts are funny is because we've all done it. We recognize what they are doing. So it's not a stretch at all to think that each of them came up with their ideas on their own.

I've produced some short films and some video contest entries for websites, and after posting the films to youtube, inevitably receive some emails from people pointing out how we had very close to the same ideas, or else I'll see an entry that used the same concept as I did.

As a filmmaker, the LAST thing I want to do is something someone else has done. Anytime I see a video or a neat idea, if I had anything close to that already in development, I scrap it. I'm a creative person. I want my stuff to be unique. So I can't imagine someone as creative as Zach finding a little video on YouTube and then saying to himself, "I think I'm going to just rip that video off and hopefully no one will ever notice."

That said, even if he DID see "Spaced" (which is likely, because that's the kind of show that someone like Zach would really like), and even if he remembered that finger gun battle sequence, and even if he did 'adapt' it, I don't have any problem, because he put it in a different environment, with a different story.

July 04 2007 at 11:12 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

midnight snack was the only decent film this episode. they should spice up the show by beating the loser out of the show. like with sticks. starting with kenny. that guy should have been out after the first garbage he presented about the taxi.

i just can't stop watching this show because of ms. costa. put her on stage and have the camera just slowly rotate around her for an hour.

p. s. i knew eli roth was a dumbass but this was ridiculous.

July 04 2007 at 7:41 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

btw the episode of Spaced aired in 2001, it's been around a long time. In the end it does not matter if Zach "borrowed" an idea for a short. As the saying goes, "Talent borrows, genius steals." The contest obviously is NOT about film making, but putting on a beauty show. It's so blatantly obvious that Zach is going to win in the end it's just ridiculous for the show to go on any further.

The contest should have been limited to 10 contestants period; chosen by the online public. Those 10 contestants should have had to make a REAL short movie; 10-15 minutes long and the show should have had a better organization for online viewing, with the voting taking place over the course of a WEEK, not in the immediate timeframe after the show.

Lastly, there should have let the judges actually RATE each film and have the score weigh just almost as much as the online votes.

It's a shame that because of this crappily thought out contest, and the utter failure of Project Greenlight, there will most likely never be anything like this contest again.

Truth be told, the winner of this contest most likely will be bought out cheap and sent packin' after a week "On the Lot," mainly because after the contest is over nobody will give a shite anyway, especially since the contest is never coming back.

July 04 2007 at 4:19 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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