LEXIE CANNES STATE OF TRANS — Embarrassingly bad. A writer for Gallaudet University’s student newspaper summed up deaf filmmaker Mark Wood’s film catalogue with those two words. Never were two words more appropriate than its usage to describe his films.
I recently had the opportunity to view six of the supposedly 9 feature films made by Wood. The deaf organization that bought this set shelled out nearly $150 — a seemingly worthwhile investment for deaf-specific entertainment. Or so they thought.
I am writing this review not just for potential audiences, but also for the filmmakers among us. There are a lot of real world lessons to take away from these films.
I wasn’t expecting perfection, but rather, something at least half entertaining, and maybe something showcasing things unique to the deaf community.
The best way to review the films is to address the filmmaker directly.
Mark, you can’t write. You’ve no sense of story structure and you have no original ideas. Every thing in your films been seen before and done to death — just not this badly. The dialogue is unbelievable as are many premises. Audiences aren’t saying “what just happened?’ — they’re saying “I don’t care.”
Mark, you can’t edit. Most of the films could be improved with (a lot) more editing. Length is not a virtue in the film business. Cut, cut and cut. The few films that seemed fairly decently edited were not edited by you.
Mark, you can’t direct. I can’t say how many times I cringed when I saw perhaps otherwise decent actors uttering bad lines in bad takes that passed muster with you and made it to the final cut.
For God’s sake, get rid of your cranes and steadicams. The time wasted setting up those shots would be better spent shooting retakes drawing out believable performances from your actors and getting more coverage! You probably already figured out lots of moving shots don’t cut well together in post, and with a lack of coverage, you’ve no way to fix them. You’re not ready for anything beyond a tripod. Your audience will thank you.
While the deletion of the audio track is a personal choice, let me just say that audio represents 50% of the effort in making a film and since your films were not burdened with this time-consuming task, it’s amazing you still fared so poorly — can’t you find a single cinematographer that knows natural and artificial light do not mix? Or you just don’t care?
Yes, I, too, was involved in a feature film, and people are free to like or dislike the story or premises. But at least there is a story to reject — NOT a non-story lost among a truckload of Filmmaking 101 blunders. And no actor is stuck with an embarrassing performance left in the final cut for all to see, till the end of their days.
Wrong Game: F
Black Sand: F
Versa Effect: F
Legend of the Mountain Man: D
Hard Man: F
There, on behalf of the buyers of your films, my $150 dollars worth.
For those of you that think I was a bit harsh, fear not. Filmmaking is a brutal business. If one can’t handle criticism, they’re long out of the business. Let’s hope for that for film #10, Mr. Wood can get at least a C+.
Earlier I wrote about one of Mark Wood’s film that had transphobic dialogue: https://lexiecannes.com/2014/01/15/asl-film-versa-effect-uses-transphobic-elements/
UPDATE — Jan. 25, 2014:
I noticed that some of ASL Films’ titles had MPAA ratings for them, including the use of the MPAA logo and images in the film, on their trailer and on some of their PR material. I checked the MPAA website and found that none of six films I viewed were actually rated by the MPAA.
It cost about $2700 to submit a film to the MPAA for rating. If ASL Films did not have their film rated and used the MPAA logo and images, this would not only be a copyright violation, but also fraud.
I wonder if Mark Wood would care to address this — are your films rated by the MPAA or not?
(Check the lower right corner of this site under “filmmakers resources”. It’s a .pdf) http://www.filmratings.com/
Update – Jan 25, 2014. Mark Wood responds. From Facebook:
Mark Wood ·I am more than happy to answer your question. My first two movies: Forget Me Not and Wrong Game were edited on iMovie in 2006 and 2007. iMovie had rating feature which was not from MPAA logo so I am not doing anything against MPAA copyright. Please look at my rating logo carefully – it was made by MGW Productions. Then with next 7 films, I used Final Cut Pro, not using rating logo anymore. By the way, I found your article very distasteful, however you are entitled to have your own opinion. Thank for checking with me.
Lexie Cannes It’s nothing personal or about your personal beliefs, it is dialogue in the film that you wrote that makes it transphobic. You don’t have to take my word for it. Check around with esteemed leaders of the trans community for their 2 cents on the matter. (FYI: there is NEVER a proper context to use “transgender, S-I-C-K” (or “transvestite, S-I-C-K”) in a comedy. More . . .
Lexie Cannes According to MPAA: “All five Classification and Rating Administration rating symbols have been trademarked and may not be self-applied.” See: http://www.bigscreen.com/MPAA_RatingsInfo.php#Enforcement . Although the iMovie or FCP plug in makes it easy to add the image, one still has to pay for MPAA to use the rating in the image. Indie filmmakers face a dilemma of paying $2700 or being shut out of some venues. This is heavily discussed in filmmaking circles.You may find my review distasteful, but we were paying customers. You’re free to buy “Lexie Cannes” for $9 then blast away.A screen shot from a preview in “Gerald”.
LEXIE CANNES STATE OF TRANS is associated with Wipe Out Transphobia: http://www.wipeouttransphobia.com/
Read Lexie Cannes in The Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/courtney-odonnell/
Categories: "Lexie Cannes" (the movie) and filmmaking