Meet filmmaker Mark Wood, the deaf community’s ‘Ed Wood’

asl films mark wood mgw productionsLEXIE 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.

Films seen:

Wrong Game: F

Black Sand: F

Versa Effect: F

Legend of the Mountain Man: D

Hard Man: F

Gerald: D

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/

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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/

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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.
  • Mark Wood ·  

    One more thing… FYI, I am not anti-transgender. What you said about the line in Versa Effect was out of context. Also I have one transgender and one gay people in our relative/family members so don’t assume worst out of me. It’s baseless accusation.
  • 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.

    Lexie Cannes's photo.
    A screen shot from a preview in “Gerald”.

asl films mark wood mgw productions

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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

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

15 replies

  1. Dear Courtney, I almost always agree with your posts but in this case I must make an exception. I have not seen the films of Mark Wood but I am very familiar with the films of Ed Wood and I think that any comparison of the two is by last name only. It may not be fashionable these days to enjoy the films of Ed Wood but I have to say that I do. He had a unique vision and his films once seen are not soon forgotten. His style was independent and there was not a polish of more conventional directors but there was a vision and he tried to do the best that he could with the money that was available to him. The term applied to him as “the worst director of all time” by the Medved brothers in their book “The Golden Turkey Awards” has unfortunately been with his reputation ever since. The positive thing is that it makes people want to see how bad that he really may have been. The negative is that it is a complete misnomer. There have been and are many worse directors than he ever could have been who made films that are forgotten as soon as you have viewed them. Ed Wood’s stock company of actors, the cameraman that he hired and his enthusiasm for making movies are quite commendable and, to me, are also quite memorable. Of course he is not in the pantheon of the greats of all time but in his way he did make films that many people do enjoy and that filmmakers have found very entertaining. As I say I have not seen the films of Mark Wood and it is possible that he is the worst director of all time. I can not say for sure until viewing but I can say that Ed Wood needs a fairer shake than you have given him here.

    • Your rapture is testimony to the mesmerizing effects of “Plan 9” and the archetypal hypnosis of graveyard flying saucers on a string. I hope you don’t do something zombie-like, such as getting up at night and moving pods that replace people–I sometimes suddenly find myself wishing I had more blue veins on my huge bald head and stumbling about with my arms out as if looking for special cake or new cadavers.

    • Thanks for your passionate defense of Ed Wood. I’ve a hunch people will still be watching Ed Wood’s films 50 years from now — probably not so for that other Wood. 🙂

  2. I agree. Every movie that came out of ASLFilms were poorly done. The stories are all too familiar, for example, Legend of the Mountain Man = Harry and the Henderson, Versa Effect = Freaky Friday, Slot = Blair Witch Project (have not seen this one but that’s my assessment of the trailer), etc. Also, there was no structure… just a mindless rambling in each films. All the actors in all films are “similar” due to Wood’s control issues. If he allow actors to be actors, they will interpret each characters in their own way, under the direction of Wood, I am confident that we will see a variety of character development.

    I think ASLFilms deserves the recognition of releasing several movies in ASL but it is time for Wood to hang his hat. His films aren’t getting any better and Wood got his 15 minutes of fame, in the deaf community.

  3. Lexie thought she’s professional film critic. Let’s look at her film work at her movie trailer and judge for yourself: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FcnuPLqfadc. She doesn’t get it. Her film work is so awful and cheap compare to ASL Films!

    • You’re entitled to your opinion but I’m not sure what this had to do with Mark Wood’s films. At any rate, did you actually see the film “Lexie Cannes”? I don’t get what you mean by “awful”? Can you explain? And what do you mean by “cheap”? Is it because the film was made without a large crew, a grip truck, cranes and trailers for the actors? Oh, and thanks for posting that link.

      BTW, which film by Mark Wood did you see?

  4. Mark Wood is being honored at this film festival in Feb, 2014: http://beloitfilmfest.org/mark-wood-honorary-chair-204/

    Also “Gerald” apparently won the ‘best narrative film’ award at the 2010 World Deaf Cinema Film held at Gallaudet University. (Apparently a very low bar!) No link for this, however I’ve seen several sources indicating this is factual.

  5. Like you, I have the eye for any artistic talent and Mark doesn’t have it. It is nothing personal like it appears to Mark but what is more sickening is that true artist like yourself lacks expensive equipment and funds yet talent-less people like Mark got them. I often pointed it out to friends how some people get the opportunity to at least direct a film with the proper equipment and crew and did it half-assed when the real artists out there has nothing to start with yet kept on trying. I consider people like Mark to be relatively thankless for the opportunities they have. It’s almost an insult, in fact.

    Your article’s right on the nose. Thank you.

  6. PAH! Thank you so, so much and I so 100% agreed with you on this article! I thought I was only one whom thinking same thing! Here’s interesting facts: I was intern for ASL Films when I was 20 years old, in two years ago and the experiences are HORRIBLE! I was trying to help them, I want to share my knowledges and passions of filmmaking which is that I always want to be director since I was five years old. I researched alot when I was younger, I actually knew many rules and basic things that every directors need to know. But they denied my suggestions and advices.. Keep claiming that I know nothing because I’m only 20 years old… Despite the facts that I already showed resources, evidences from internet and but yet they still oppressed me.. Yes, everybody went against me. Unbelievable. They were so jealous, threatened of my abilities and passions that they desperately pull me down. Well it almost worked! After months of working with them, my spirit and dreams were almost broken but luckily my great friends supported me. Before I got “suspended” due to using phone and lame excuses. They literally threatened me that if I say something about this experiences and they will put me on the blacklist that nobody will hire me in any film industries. Can you imagine that??! I scoffed because I knew they are not even that good and no one from hollywood ever want to work with them. It is not because they sucked so badly, it is because of their “no sounds policy” and their movies will always limited to the deaf community. I thought I would receive supports from them but no, they only think about themselves and desperately wanting to be successful; that they would destroy others in the order to get there… Indeed, very sad and ending of the “In the can” disgusted me because Mark Wood is desperately attempted showing that he will supports people in filmmaking.. FRAUD! I rated “In the can” as F.

    Beware! He and his selfish crew will destroy you. I supports people, I believe in teamwork and I would rather to be successful with people than being alone. I see no loyalty or passions from them. You need good, loyal crew with passions to create an good movie together and it is NOT one man job. I’m actually grateful for this horrible experiences, it led me to become better person and director. I learned so much from their mistakes. Before we start on our first movie, we made over 25 short videos to learn our mistakes and improve from em. So we will be totally prepared before our first movie and I was right! It was extremely helpful.

    [deleted]

    Thank you Mark Wood and Dack Vignig! I won’t be successful if it is wasn’t because of your oppressions! 🙂 I will make sure that [deleted] never treat Interns so badly, I do get that it is traditional for interns receiving hard times and but what you guys did do to me is TOO MUCH! You guys crossed my line and I will speak out the truth.. You messed with wrong guy and I hereby swore to exposing you frauds in one day! But I don’t really care, I have company to run and it won’t matter because I doubt that ASL Films will still stands after more competitions coming in anyway.

    P.S. Yes, Dack and Mark did actually controlled actors. Their acting are “similar” because of THEM! Directors were supposed to work with actors, assuring that their acting are believable and leading the project. It is actors’ job to act, nobody like it when all actors acting similar and they wont listen to me on that one too. What an idiots. They really need to do their homework!

    P.S.S. Other interesting fact: Mark wood NEVER created any short films, or pick up from filmmaking experiences and his degree is pastor. He just decide to make movies for MONEY, not because of passions and they sicken me to the core. What a shame! His crew actually backstabbed him and calling him “Jew” dues to his selfish with money… Mark called me liar. Okay then! Suits yourself 🙂 I believe that Mark Wood secretly want to brainwashing people in Christianity and dont you think its odd that few of his movies involved incest? Maybe he is trying to express his experiences of incest or something and he is just pathetic for make movies that related to his personal life. Nobody want to know if you were molested by family members.

    Sincerely,

    [deleted by request]

  7. Interesting..and i know your mother, i can only hope you can succeed on your own. I will be rooting for you.

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