02-06-2011, 07:31 AM
RE: Milltown Pride
Though I was trying to have some fun reviewing the trailer I also am profoundly disappointed that the university decided to use their resources to produce such an outdated apparent mess of a film.
It's not for a lack of talent that this kind of thing is made. This travesty is the result of a perfect storm of ingredients that come together to wreck so much of any mass media product a Fundie organization tries to make.
1. Old-Fashioned ideas about production. Based on the production photos on the website it appears that they actually shot this thing on film. That does nothing other than send the costs sky high with absolutely no advantages for this kind of production over going HD video. The shooting style is very pedestrian, showing little innovation or creativity. It's movie making by the old-style numbers...darn near Roman numerals in fact.
2. The directing is also reminiscent of the era of the director and the director's mentors. The acting styles that were drawn out of the participants is reminiscent of the early days of cinema when stage and radio actors were brought out to make films. The skills that make a good stage actor do not translate directly to film or video without some compensation for the fact that the camera puts the audience in more intimate contact with the characters and that the microphones do not require the over-done clarity or projection of stage.
3. Making a feature length film. From looking at the trailer it scarcely seems possible that this storyline can be compelling for more than an hour. UF has had some reasonable success in making shorter productions aimed at a young audience. I can only speculate as to why they decided to go this route. I do have an educated guess, however.
A few years ago after "Fireproof" had become a bit of a phenomenon members of the Fine Arts faculty and staff and administration screened the film. Later the film was shown on campus in a viewing open to students.
My guess is that the school believed that, based on the success of "Fireproof", there is a significant market for Christian productions of a feature length type. Word is that year in and out Dr. Bob III was getting ancy to put out a film or at least get UF back into production. However, finding a suitable project when your target audience is so picky is a monumental task.
That being said, there are many talented people at UF and dozens and dozens of students who have come through the Cinema program through the years who have the ability to write and produce quality projects. Unfortunately they are always held back by the old fashioned, over cautious sensibilities of the older staff, faculty and administration.
If the school was looking at modern trends in media at all they would note that their best opportunities would probably be directed towards coming up with a creative web-based production or returning their focus to shorter productions. When you have amateurs producing short videos posted to YouTube that are amazingly creative and gain huge followings you have to ask the question: Why are we sinking so much in resources into a feature length film made on the same old “evangelistic” formula?
HomeSat was doing some fine work (much of that design and production was done by younger staff more connected to modern production techniques.) I've seen some very fine work done by this group of people but few outside of the HomeSat program ever see the fruits of the labor.
The best performance in this current production is likely to be David Burke as Billy Sunday. My understanding is that Burke, also the screenwriter of the production, has been doing a portrayal of Sunday in churches for several years. A high quality video adaptation of his performance would have been much cheaper to produce. Instead we took a good performance piece and framed it with a very predictable and tired formulaic storyline to try and broaden the audience.
Fundie-ism is the root problem here. Fear! Fear that somebody will be offended. Fear that modern production techniques will be associated with "the world" drives the hyper-conservative production values and screenwriting. One of the chief problems with Christian media is that so often it is characterized by what it doesn't have as opposed to what it offers. Listen to your local Christian radio station. Even the ones with more contemporary music tend to emphasize "Safe for Little Ears" or "Family Friendly" at nauseum. The announcers are vapid and annoying with nothing to say, generally over-spiritualizing every comment or story.
Students are not encouraged to work on personal projects. Any participation in cinema production outside of class is regarded with extreme suspicion. Thus, talented people are driven underground. They dare not be upfront with their help on projects during the summer or Christmas break.
Frankly, I think that, when it comes to film-making, your average young person interested in making cinema productions would do much better if they would take the thousands of dollars it costs to go to a university like BJU and use that same money to make their first film. They will learn a heck of a lot more and not be under the draconian hyper-conservative and old fashioned restrictions of a program like BJU Cinema.
BJU and Unusual Films should be able to do better. They have the equipment and talent in-house to do better. They have creative people at their disposal. They have a built-in crew of students that should enable them to produce work that is high quality for much less cost than someone just starting out would ever be able to do. However, even with these advantages they hamstring themselves by insisting on sticking to outdated formulas for story and outmoded production techniques.
"... now learn too late How few somtimes may know, when thousands err."
Abdiel to Satan (Milton's Paradise Lost Book vi)
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RE: Milltown Pride - Abdiel - 02-06-2011 07:31 AM
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