Saturday, November 29, 2008

X Films:True Confessions of a Radical Filmmaker

Here's a Christmas gift idea for yourself, or that filmmaker complicating your life. I have this book and just finished reading it to get my mind momentarily off the clown-car onParliament Hill driving around Ottawa. Alex Cox has made some of my most admired and favourite movies out there. Especially Repo Man, Sid and Nancy, Walker and the little seen El Patrullero (Highway Patrolman). Not only does he walk you through the nuts and bolts of getting these ten fantastic oddities on to the screen (including financing), but he still possesses a lot of passion and inspiration. For example:

"Talking to students and younger people now, I get the impression that they think a film is 'given' to a filmmaker - by a studio, or a production company. This is not so. If you are a real filmmaker, a film is something you personally conceive, and then, in partnership with similarly minded colleagues, make yourself. ... It is entirely within your power."

Cox and myself have a similar love for Once upon a Time in the West, The Searchers, The Clash, Mexican food and a DIY attitude. Some of the stories are spicy, including getting punched in the face by an extra...who waited until the last day of photography to do it. The only dirt I wished he had touched upon, was getting fired from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. He's also a huge activist when it comes to fighting lousy copyright laws.

"On Paul Robeson's tombstone are the words ' The artist must elect to fight for freedom or slavery. I made my choice. I had no alternative.' What this great actor said applies to writers, to journalists, and indeed to almost everybody. But not everyone is in the fortunate position of the artist, able to weigh the political implications of each possible job, and to accept or reject the work accordingly. The choices that we make, as artists, hackers, or filmmakers, are visible in our work. No one is forced to make a film. Slavery is profitable. Freedom is difficult. Money is plentiful for those who promote obedience; it's in short supply for those who disobey. And yet, all over the world, people refuse to be slaves, and give up careers, and even lives, because their sense of self-worth, or their communities survival obliges them to. Another world is possible."

His ideas for a new film or digital world will get your gears turning. You may not agree with all of it, but it does get the blood flowing. If you run across the book, pick it up. You won't be disappointed. If you want to know more about the man go to his website.

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