Monday, July 5, 2010

Getting Bent After The Last Airbender

Two years ago it just so happened that Hokahey of Little Worlds made his annual Washington, DC-area visit on the debut weekend of The Happening. Hardy fans of M. Night Shyamalan, particularly Unbreakable and The Village (we're in the minority on the latter, we know), Hokahey and I were left reeling from encountering a movie that was two times worse than what we figured would be Shyamalan’s rock bottom, Lady In The Water. The atrociousness of The Happening led to our transcribed post-movie discussion. And a few days later, I paid a mocking tribute to the film with a parody ad.

Well, wouldn’t you know it, this year Hokahey’s visit coincided with the national debut of The Last Airbender. A proper review should come along later this week, I hope, if I can juggle projects successfully. In the meantime, here’s some more mocking tribute, entirely shot and edited on the morning and afternoon of July 4, starring Hokahey.

(As always, allow the video to buffer before playing. Watch the video in a larger player on Vimeo, here.)


Jake said...

Oh I can't wait to see this. Well, I can, because I'm putting it off until Wednesday or Thursday instead of going today, but I've hated M. Night for years and I'm entirely willing to give him 10 bucks to scream in his face for two hours. Yes, I'm giving him more work, but to hell with it.

Tony Dayoub said...

My favorite shot: the police car rolling by behind Hokahey as he bends traffic, the cop's head fixed in Hokahey's direction in disbelief as his car is forced to go with the "flow."

Craig said...

Nearly peed my pants, guys. Thanks for a great start to the week!

The Film Doctor said...

Very funny. It must have taken hours of careful preparation and coordination to get the cars to line up with Hokahey's motions like that. The Washington DC subway makes for nice futuristic mise en scene.

Can this video substitute for the actual movie?

Richard Bellamy said...

Tony - I thought the cops would come back to check up, but they didn't. They were all over the place due to the 4th.

FilmDr - Jason got lots of great shots in the subway. The tube there reminds be of the changing of the shift scene in Metropolis.

This was the best time I've had in a long time!

And what trials filmmakers must endure, we thought, as we had a shot all set up and that dog proceeded to stop right in the middle of things and have multiple problems.

Jason Bellamy said...

Echoing Hokahey, thanks for the comments, all.

You know, filmmakers are always talking about "happy accidents," and it's amazing how many we encountered shooting for what wound up being a less-than-3-minute film.

The cop going by ... luck. (As Tony suggests, he really does give us a "What's with this fucking guy?" look.) The dog ... an interruption turned into luck. (The thing was dumping for so long I decided to hit 'record.') Those fountain shots? We only recorded those because I was standing at an intersection trying to get footage of stopped cars ... except the lights were timed too well and no cars were stopping. (Damn city planners!) Not getting any of the footage I wanted and standing right next to a fountain, we thought, why not. In the end, particularly if you've seen The Last Airbender, it was perfect and should have been in our plans all along.

Anyway, it was fun. After seeing Airbender on Friday afternoon, we'd spent some time discussing the movie and shaking our heads about it. We'd been pondering spending Sunday morning shooting a short film of some kind ... something that would make Hokahey's students laugh when he showed it to them next school year. Over dinner Saturday night, sitting outside near two of the intersections where we shot most of the footage, we decided our short film should be an Airbender parody.

"You should bend something," I said.

"I could be the last carbender," Hokahey replied, and that was that.

We laughed. A lot. Then, during filming, and during editing. I shared this video not knowing if anyone else would find it funny, but I'm glad it worked.

For what it's worth, my favorite shot might be the one where Hokahey strikes a sunflower pose. It's my favorite because I had to use the second take of that setup. The first time I laughed so hard that I shook the camera, thus ruining the shot. The second time, I pointed the camera and then closed my eyes and waited for Hokahey to tell me he was done.

It really was tremendous fun. Part of me wishes we'd done this a few years ago when I still lived in the District proper, because those would have been some busy streets and great reactions. (Then again, it was nice knowing that I wasn't going to have my Vixia strong-armed from me.) But, to go off a comment by FilmDr, I have to admit that on many a weekday morning at my local Metro station in Arlington I've looked around and thought that it would make for a cool cinema backdrop. It was fun to have an excuse to shoot there.

Thanks, Hokahey. And thanks to everyone who watched and shared their enjoyment!

Unknown said...

All this needs is a poor 2D to 3D conversion and it will be ready for the big screen!

Sam Juliano said...

My colleague calls him M. Night SHIT-malan, but I guess I had a bit more tolerance with him, in view of my fondness for THE VILLAGE. (and his debut, THE SIXTH SENSE. I'm happy that you and Hokahey are on board on THE VILLAGE, which as least boasts some beautiful color cinematography by Roger Deakins, one of James Newton Howard's best scores, and that striking lead performance by Bryce Dallas Howard. Yes I am a lifelong fan of the original THE TWILIGHT ZONE! Ha!
I won't rush to see this new film though, and will look for your takedown.

Ed Howard said...

Hahah that's great stuff. Thanks, guys, now I don't have to see what's sure to be a pile of crap.

I'm at work, and still couldn't stifle a loud laugh at the hopscotch reveal; well-played!

Jason Bellamy said...

Steven: Ha! Yes! It was tough for me to quit editing on our quick one-day project ... I wanted to clean up the audio a bit. But then I decided, screw it ... if the studios can do crappy 3-D (I saw Airbender in 2-D, so I'm just going on what I've read), we can roll with faulty audio.

Sam: Hokahey and I had this conversation, but as Shyamalan's career continues I can't decide if it elevates or lessens The Village. In other words, were all the naysayers right all along, and I've been defending the admittedly flawed film on soggy ground? Or, considering the film's marvelous mood and acting performances by Howard and Phoenix, is the film now a genuine fucking classic by Shyamalan standards because at least it's half good, as opposed to these recent pictures which have pretty much been no good at all.

Ed: Thanks, man. It's a delight to hear others are sharing our laughter.

Fletch said...

Wow - that was tremendous, and better yet, I get to put a face to the name Hokahey!