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Posing at the Posies

Posing at the Posies

Articles - Directing

Chances are you live  in Seattle, so you know what moshing
is. I knew, too- sort of. Moshing, I discovered, is a kinder, gentler
slam dance.

I moshed for the first time at a Posies concert in December.
I didn’t plan on it, but when you’ve just turned 30 you suddenly
fear that organized public groping may be the closest thing to a
date you’ll have from now on.

So I endured the two opening bands and The Posies came
on and I put my earplugs back in and elbowed my way into the mosh
pit. The pit was packed and people were bumping into me. It was
kind of like Christmas shopping, only with different background
music. And then we started passing people overhead and everyone
had this glow on their face, like they were shoveling coal. It was
a groovy, wonderful thing and I came to several conclusions:

1. Bumping into people is rude unless you call it moshing.

2. Moshing is the safe sex of The 90’s. 3. Moshing is
a lot like moviemaking. It starts with someone bumping into you.
That gets your attention. That’s what you’ve got to do to your audience.
Visually bump into them. Make them take notice. James Bond movies
start out that way. Bond is hanging from a helicopter or skiing
down a dangerously steep slope. If it’s a Lethal Weapon movie,
they’re detonating a bomb. Love or hate the movies, they do claim
your attention.

Or this movie I just rented, Scanners, has a
guy’s head blow off during a psychic demonstration. That caught
my eye. Or an ultra-low budget Lucky Charm Award entry I just saw.
A woman comes home early and catches her husband in bed- with a
clown. It was silly. But it grabbed me.

The next part of moshing is when another person pushes
you back. Consider this your audience reacting. If you’re not getting
a reaction, something’s not working. You can only find this out
by showing your work to someone. Enter it in a festival. Show it
to a distributor. I don’t recommend showing your work to friends.   They’re
either too judgmental or too accepting. Show it to a colleague,
someone else who makes videos or films on a regular basis. Avoid
people who badmouth your work. It takes more expertise to appreciate
the good qualities than it does to attack the shortcomings.

Now comes the sweat part. Moshing is a sweaty, sensual
experience. I can think of at least three senses involved (and twice
as many body parts.) Movies should be thus driven. Not necessarily
in a Basic Instinct or 9 1/2 Weeks sort of way. I’m
not saying your production has to be soft-core porn (although that
seems to be the marketable thing in Hollywood lately.) I’m saying
your project should have a sense of urgency. Stir something in your
audience’s brain and loins. Give them a reason not to change the
channel or go buy popcorn. Overload their sensory perception until
they float into the air like sacrificed 30year-olds in Logan’s
Run
, exploding with delight in midair.

I saw this movie called Phantasm II the other
night. The hero was being chased around by dwarfs in hooded robes.
The hoods covered their faces. I imagined the worst. Then the trademark
Phantasm ball flew through the air with a whooshing sound. It’s
a shiny silver ball with knives that lodge into the victim’s forehead
while a drill invades the person’s brain. It’s gory, but the shiny
silver ball looks like a Christmas tree ornament and the red brain
blood that sprays out of the ball is downright Yulelike. The scene
tingled my senses in unexpected ways. I was horrified, yet swept
up in its glamour at the same time. A feast of sights and sounds.
And the bottom line is, that’s all you have to work with- audio
and video. I could write a book on the under-use of sound in movies,
so I’ll cut it short here and say there are few movies that can’t
be enhanced by a few moshing tunes thrown in.

So let’s talk bout LSD movies. Have you ever seen The
Trip
? In it, Peter Fonda drops acid and hallucinates. The acid
trip special effects are really cheesy- kaleidoscope issues/03/images, distortion
lens. The music’s cheesy too, but it works. The whole movie works
because the moviemakers set a consistent mood. And what is moshing
if not a hip mood, a happening state of mind? A movie doesn’t have
to be about drugs to have a druglike effect. Your audience should
always get a buzz off your work.

And finally, let’s discuss climaxing. The story’s almost
over. You’ve made your audience laugh a little, squirm, cry- whatever.
You’ve suspended their interest like a mosher suspended by the cold
hands of the pit dwellers. You’ve carried them to the stage and
they’re ready to take that big dive into the audience. This is your
climax. And the question is, will it be a successful dive?   If
not- if no one catches our trusting mosher-   if
he misses the outstretched, groping hands, he’ll hit the floor face
first. Paralysis. In your movie, when you present your climax, when
you take that big jump, if you haven’t primed your audience, gathered
them into a writhing mass of groping love hands, they’ll let you
fall to the ground and move to the next body. Moshers and audiences
are nice- to a point. United they stand, divided you fall. MM

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