Monthly Archives: February 2013

Watch like there’s nobody dancing

If you’re a young college type like me, in twenty-five years you may find yourself trying to explain The Harlem Shake to your children. From their end, I suspect it’s going to be a lot like your Dad trying to explain the Berlin Wall.

And you may have seen my school’s crack at it.

It was last week, the height of the fad, and hundreds of my schoolmates in Spider Man costumes and inflatable bananas showed up in front of the library, but after twenty minutes with no moves bustin’, I reached for the iPhone.

See, white people like to see other white people being fun and cool, but they especially like to see white people being humiliated.

So before the cops ran everybody off, Myranda and I immortalized the achievement for YouTube. But getting my first taste of YouTube success wasn’t like I suspected. Interestingly, the more views we got, the more aware I was of my place in this internet.

But here’s the thing about our video: You may have actually seen it without me showing it to you. And for a blog with exactly eleven regulars, that’s pretty much the big-time.

Besides, it made a local dent, at least. Right now it has 150K vies; Local blogs, the Tuscaloosa News, and even someone from the Huffington Post embedded it.

But it has also become Alabama’s official entry into the Harlem Shake collection (a gathering permit will take ten days, and the fad will be ancient history by then). Soon I realized my first glance from the internet has come at a terrible cost.

But at least with all the YouTube earnings I’ll be able to take everyone out for Sonic (at happy hour, of course).

Let’s makah movie!

Last night we had a short film festival here at UA. Of 16 student films, 11 were dramas. I made bingo:

This event is called Campus MovieFest. It gives you exactly one week to shoot and edit a five-minute movie, and they’ll even lend you a camera and MacBook to do it. At the end they screen the top 16 films. Most are actually creative and clever, some are a little iffy. The latter generally fall into three categories:

(Generally one or more of these applies to everything I do.)

Still, as long as you remember to calibrate your standards, the festival produces some pretty good stuff from all sorts of kids. Of course, it’s something else entirely for the film students. Sometimes they plot and plan all year long, waiting, until CMF week finally begins and they bust out in crack filmmaker commando squads.

My girlfriend Myranda is film major, so I got it firsthand this year. Ho boy, did I get it. For me, making a movie is a fun project. For her kind, it’s Thermopylae.

The buzz this year was a sci-fi flick called Manta. Supposedly the team used a crowdfunding site to raise $2800 for everyone to cut class, fly out to the desert for the week and also build a space station. Myranda was miffed.

No, she was feral.

I saw her point. It’s a five minute film fest open to everyone; this kind of thing is geared toward amateurism and creativity, not for the film school’s Spielbergs Jr. to roll out their heaviest Hollywood artillery. Well, baring certain special cases, of course:

But I wasn’t as worried about it. The judges are students and faculty from all departments, not just film. So while the Manta guys are thinking like film students, the judges are thinking like us layfolk.

This gives the little guy two advantages.

First, what film students think makes a good movie and what normal people think makes a good movie don’t always line up.

Second, the judges usually seem to get the spirit of the competition.

Each year we see pretty Vimeo fodder get upset by flicks that are rougher around the edges. It used to confuse me, but I realize now that if the judges judged simply on being-the-best-ness, we would always just end up with a handful of film school titans battling it out while everyone else beat eachother with rocks and sticks.

So the top 16 was a hodgepodge. You saw clever ideas without technical know-how and know-how without clever ideas, but most often films somewhere nicely in the middle.

The only problem was the last film of the night. It was about talking fruit; they picked it to end on a light note, which is fine. Unfortunately, to bring up attendance nobody knows beforehand if their movie will be screened or not, which meant this happened to everyone who didn’t get screened:

Manta got nominated for best drama. And that’s all it got. I thought the dialogue was great but the story lacked an arc, but whatever. The film that won the whole thing was a comedy about a hiring people to be living furniture, and I was very excited about that.

Oh, almost forgot, we made a movie too!