Friday, 19 July 2013

Flavour Of The Month - Edgar Wright - Neopolitan Ice-cream - Part 1

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to our latest new feature. It's the first in our series of 'The Greats', where we honour and discuss our favourite filmmakers. But being a funky, off-centre blog, we couldn't just write about the life of our favourites - we're going to pick one a month to focus on (we'll add periodically during that month to it in the form of follow-up articles).

We'll also compare them to a flavour of ice-cream that we feel represents them.

Purely because we can.

Make no mistake though - those who we discuss, we'll be looking at in a very serious manner as we explore their past work/current projects and future trials. We hope we can do them justice - and we hope we can shed a bit of light on people who you might also follow or admire.

This is in stark contrast with our 'Framing Film' series for a reason - that interview series, that is now mainly focusing on indepedent filmmakers, explores process - technical and artistic - from generally up and coming companies/individuals - whereas this looks at people with already established bodies of work and some of our favourites from that pool.

(Photo By: Gage Skidmore - Wikimedia Commons)

This entire series is predicated/inspired by one of our absolute heroes - Edgar Wright. In honour of the Cornetto trilogy's ending coming up soon, we've decided to go back over some of our favourite moments that were crafted by him. (The Cornetto flavours trilogy, as it's come to be known through a joke, has inspired this flavour of the month idea). He's one of our favourite directors and one that we take some cues on as we head onto writing/filming our own shorts. We'll look at 'Dead Right' (1993) today - then 'Fistful of Fingers' tomorrow - and onwards on our journey through his directing from there.

For this month - we'll be comparing Edgar to Neopolitan ice-cream. We hope he doesn't mind the comparison.

Much like the now famed dessert - he is able to bring many different styles and genres together. When he's interchanging between them, he handles them all with the same skill level. For the price of one director, you get a variety of skills and passions.

And, you know, it's three colours.

And flavours.

Or so we're told.


The Early Years - 'Dead Right' (1993)

Edgar Howard Wright lived most of his early years in Wells, Somerset, which, from as much as we can gather from listening to him, is a great if slightly uneventful place. Like many other budding filmmakers, he was making shorts/films from a young age. But particularly, he was making spoofs. 'Dead Right' (1993), which can either be dug up on some backwater internet site or through the 'Hot Fuzz' DVD. 'Dead Right', in essence, is a film that explores the difference between American and British action films. It's never fun (or nice) to do critic's work on early films made to get into the industry as you're learning - they're made in a light spirit, and for fun. But the reason we want to look at some of his work is because the passion genuinely comes through. It's not a bunch of throwaway films - it must have been a brilliant learning experience and it works well. Edgar also shows humility here - he showed us where the stories that he works on now evolved from. Also - what better education can you ask for then to see a director at work?

It also starts to show signs of Wright's early favourites when working - the whip pans/swift transitions - that offbeat comedy style. It's also a basic precursor to 'Hot Fuzz' - which was filmed in the same place. In fact, it's like the prototype of that film - I highly encourage watching it before viewing 'Hot Fuzz' again - you can see the germination of the ideas as they take place. 'Dead Right' follows the rather brash Barry Stern as he tracks a serial killer and works with a new partner.

It's brilliant, because, despite being a video made with mostly friends and with low-grade equipment, you could tell it was a Wright film from watching it.

From almost a mile away.

It's that obvious - not to mention that as a writer, even aged 18, there's a lot of clever dialogue hidden around. The biggest reason we love this film; it's left more of an impact than other films I've seen from 18 year old directors. Now granted, I haven't seen that many, I have had the (dis)pleasure to sit through a lot of student film viewings where the students were clearly discouraged or just not in touch with what they were doing. It also is something that is critical to the rest of his work - it looks to examine bigger concepts than simply just putting a video onto a film print/tape.

Most importantly - their films didn't reflect the fun and joy of filmmaking.

You know that when you make a film like 'Dead Right' or a student film - you're not doing it for big money. You're doing it because you love it - because it's what you want to do with your life. When it's a very confined budget and a small crew doing many different jobs at once, stretching people, you have to be at the top of your game. Something along the lines of 'It's hard until it gets easy'?

But it's clearly someone who is passionate about filmmaking and someone who worked ahead of his time in terms of his education - this was before we had an overflow of media courses at high schools here, if you remember.

Most of our other favourite directors like Spielberg and Rodriguez, were doing the exact same thing. Cutting together shorts that used every available resource they had and showing signs of what they would later become.

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