Friday, July 15, 2011

Target Practice - a film

I just watched "Target Practice" on streaming Netflix.

Oh, and about what Netflix is doing to us, if you don't already know, I got an email from them yesterday saying:

We are separating unlimited DVDs by mail and unlimited streaming into two separate plans to better reflect the costs of each. Now our members have a choice: a streaming only plan, a DVD only plan, or both.

Your current $11.99 a month membership for unlimited streaming and unlimited DVDs (including Blu-ray access) will be split into 2 distinct plans:

   Plan 1: Unlimited Streaming (no DVDs) for $7.99 a month
   Plan 2: Unlimited DVDs (including Blu-ray), 1 out at-a-time (no streaming)
              for $9.99 a month

Right, whatever. What a bunch of jerks. Anyway, moving right along back to what I was saying...

Rich wrote and directed Target Practice. I kind of liked it. I'm not doing a review on the film here. I just sharing a moment. I love finding little gems of "B" movies. Movies I never heard of and found by whatever means and this was one of those.

I had wondered about the editing as I thought it was more competent than is usual for a "B" movie, but then I saw that he is an editor on such shows as Life on Mars, Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny, Friday Night Lights and on and on.

In Rich's own words, the film: "Target Practice" is an intelligent but raw, visceral, extremely tense outdoor thriller with an emphasis on character as much as action. The story centers on 5 blue-collar friends on a weekend fishing trip - and the hell that's unleashed upon them when they almost run into a car that's been abandoned in the middle of an isolated mountain road. Stopping to see if anyone needs their help, they inadvertently stumble into the middle of an undercover operation involving a CIA agent and a hidden training camp for homegrown terrorists (molded after real-life, recent discoveries in both the U.S. and Canada). Suddenly, these 5 regular, everyday guys find themselves way out of their league, fighting a bloody battle against a cunning, well-trained, brutal enemy that knows the rugged terrain like the back of its hand. A battle that quickly spirals into a full-scale mini-war for which they are completely unprepared..

Now, I thought it was odd that a CIA operation was going on within the confines of the US, as they don't have a charter for that, meaning, it's illegal (without something like an executive order or something) but what the hey, they had a good explanation; kind of. You'd have to see it to know what I mean by that. And within that, is part of the fun of the film.

I've been lately studying making lower budget films. I'm used to writing scripts for bigger budget movies but if you can make a small movie, you can make a big movie, but not always the other way around. It's like someone once told me many, many years ago. If you want to be a novelist, learn how to write really good short stories; and if you want to be a good short story writer, learn how to write a one page story. Try it sometime, it's not easy.

The same goes for small films, that is, low budget films. Many people think that "low budget" equals, "low quality". And it does in some respect. You cannot typically afford, in a low budget film, high paid talent, high quality cameras, film stock, lenses, lighting, equipment, special effects, and so on. But, for one you can make that work for you. If you have competent people, reasonable equipment and a good script, you can probably make a pretty good film.

Look for instance, at Robert Rodriguez and what he did with El mariachi and look at the career he gleamed out of that one.

Desperado was a great little film and pretty much a direct result of El Mariachi, a film that, according to IMDB, initially cost $7000 to make. Director Robert Rodriguez raised $3,000 of the $7,000 by volunteering to be a human "laboratory rat". He was used to test a cholesterol reducing drug. Paid $100 a day for 30 days, he wrote most of the script while locked in the lab. Peter Marquardt was a fellow "rat", but could not speak Spanish. He delivered his lines from card held in his hand or out of shot. Most of the $7,000 was spent on film for the camera. The version seen in most cinemas has had approximately $1 million of post-production work and promotion behind it.

Anyway, I love finding small films like this. And this just goes to show you, when you do make a decent film with little money, it doesn't always have to be a romantic, or philosophical, surreal or dramatic flick.

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