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The swede life
In Roque Rodriguez's version of “Indiana Jones,” Indy's famous whip looks an awful lot like green jump rope — OK, it is a green jump rope. And if that giant boulder looks like it's made of cardboard, well, that's because it is.
This is not a Steven Spielberg masterpiece. But quality is subjective, and that's not really the point anyway. This is a swede, part of a growing genre of super-low- or no-budget viral videos, created by fans and made popular by YouTube.
Ahead of the curve for once, Fresno will hold its first Swede Festival, from 2 to 4 p.m., Aug. 9 at Corridor 2122 (that's 2122 Mono St.)
Wait: let's rewind a bit.
In order to understand the swedes (not the bikini-team kind) you've got to know the source material— Michel Gondry's film “Be Kind Rewind.” The movie stars Mos Def and Jack Black as two friends who accidentally erase a store full of video cassettes and are forced to re-film classic movies to keep up their kooky customers happy.
It's a Gondry film, so you'll have to excuse the logic.
They tell the customers the re-made tapes come from Sweden — hence the higher rental fees and longer wait times.
They're swedish. Get it?
And sweding (that's the act of creating a swede) has caught on.
On the film's Web site, users can engage in sweding, which puts their faces on the VHS cover of a movie. Gondry even sweded a version of the trailer of the film. He was the star. The “Be Kind Rewind YouTube” minisite encourages filmmakers to create sweded versions of popular movies.
And they have. A Youtube search brings up more than 2,000 of them — everything from “Jurassic Park” to “Star Wars.” OK, some of them might be porn.
It's the kind of art Williams Raines can get behind.
“The main thing is just going out and doing it,” says Raines, a member of Corridor 2122, who had the idea to put together a showcase and have it piggyback on his annual Splash Exhibit, a three-day showing he does every August. Nine artists will have work up in the gallery Saturday and Sunday noon to 4 p.m., if the festival is not quite your thing.
Swedes work because they are assessible to everyone and art should not be hindered by talent or resources.
So, the production values on swedes are low and budgets are dollar-store cheap. Need an Iron Man custom? How good are you with cellophane and tin foil? Cardboard weapons? Check. Actors? Well ... you've got friends right? If not, you can always use your dog.
The end product is less important that the process, Raines says.
This is about taking something and making it recognizably something else — a re-imaging let's say. Then, you share it with others.
“It's a community event, as far as I'm concerned.”
And even though the deadline for the festival has passed (they have six or so swedes that will be shown), Raines says he's planning a second one — possibly as part of the Rogue.
So, get out the video camera and go for it.
“Go create. Have fun.”
If you need to know where to start, here are five Sweding tips from Rodriguez.
1. Anyone can swede
Yup, it's true! So if you ask you mom or best friend and they tell you, “I can't act!” Well guess what: that only makes the swede better. Bad acting is a staple of Sweding so bring anyone and everyone. Never take “No” for an answer. Get them involved by sitting down and surfing your DVD library to decide what movie and what scene's to swede. Get them to come out and help with props or costume or just watch. Once they see what a good time it is shooting, they'll quickly change their stance and soon they'll be in your production.
2. Cardboard is king
Next time you and your friend walk by a dumpster and see a crapload of boxes, skip the “Wanna box?” joke and start loading up your backseat. With the brown gold, you can create all type of props ranging from guns, swords, cars, helicopters, dinosaurs, you name it. For our Indiana Jones swede, I kept thinking “How am I going to do the boulder?” I didn't want to compromise too much on the size, so that's when I discovered the versatility of the cardboard. It lacked depth but the size came out pretty good and it translated well.
3. The dollar store is your props dept.
So, sometimes not everything can be built out of cardboard or maybe you just want to raise your production value up just a little. Any dollar store will be filled with possible answers to your problems. Just make a list of all the props you need before you head down and plunk down your hard earned cash (you don't want your budget to end up blowed up), and once you get there, take a walk around and see if you can see more creative ways to get a laugh out of your audience by buying that plunger to use as a katana instead of that plastic toy sword.
4. Shoot everything
DV tape (or whatever you might use) is relatively cheap. Costco sells a 10 pack of DV tape for around $20. At 60 mins per tape (90 in LP mode) that'll get you over 10 hours of footage. Plus, once your done, you can always reuse them by recording over them. So when you out there, try to shoot everything. When your editing your footage, you'll be glad you got that shot of your actor falling on his or her face and possibly work it into the film somehow.
5. Storyboards and a shot list
Yeah, they help a lot. It always sucks to think you're done, get drunk at the wrap party only to find out that you missed two or three key shots after you sent everyone home on their merry way, and you're stuck trying to tell a story with no ending. If your doing a trailer or scene, use the screen capture feature to get the shots you want and print out a couple of copies so people on set can see what needs to be done. Not on speaking terms with your PC? Get your drawin' on. If you're just freestylin' it, at least have a shot list to check off and make sure that you'll have something that will work when your in front of the computer editing.
The Fresno Swede Festival
2 to 4 p.m., Aug. 9
2122 Mono St., Fresno