Pure Shock Value Rocks the Hollywood Fringe (a Review)

Posted by Damaso Rodriguez on Monday, June 20, 2011 Under: Film
June 18, 2011
By Kathryn Osenlund

All around the TCG conference and concurrent festivals, theater people are voicing questions and concerns about the viral encroachment of media into theater. Speculation on eventual outcomes abounds. 

Into the fray comes the Furious Theatre Company – premiering a movie. So from the get-go, Pure Shock Value is about as encroached as it gets.

Film was the next logical step for them, according to Managing Director Nick Cernoch. It’s a first film by director Damaso Rodriguez, a co-founding artistic director of the theatre company, and it’s David Hall’s first produced screenplay.

I expected an amateur effort by actors who, understandably, would not necessarily know how to handle the medium’s technical demands or the unique demands of film acting. 

But what I saw was an impressive film with fine acting that comes across as no acting at all. They’ve brought the language of their theatre ensemble into film, according to Cernoch.  Armed with Hall’s, tightly plotted screenplay, they developed the project for a several months, in between the actors’ theater schedules and day jobs. The film was rehearsed, shot, and (well) edited on FCP software in company members’ apartments.

As the movie’s story spills out, it’s made pretty clear to the audience that a character has done something regrettable and the other characters are slow to catch on. There’s a marriage proposal angle: “Dude, marriage is the new dating.”

 And then the main thrust, so to speak: What does it take to get a legit production company to make your movie, and how far would you go to kick the door down? The movie lives at the intersection of  Tarantino, Spielberg, violence, flirtation with an X-rating, and a search for a sign from heaven to assure them that “the Big Man exists and has a keen interest in young Hollywood.”

I noted the low production values, which are cool, and to be expected in a fringe film.  What I didn’t know until afterward was that the crew went to some pains to get that  “fringe” look.  In order to bring production values down to underground level and achieve the desirable grainy look, they fitted their Pana HD camera with a Red Rock Spinning Adapter. 

This is a bold and exciting experiment by a theatre ensemble. A labor of love with a smart mouth and vulgarity to spare, it also has relationships, a crazy sort of depth, and an almost subliminal retro Euro-film feel.  Not to get too grand about this, but in a way this reminds me of Krzysztof Kieślowski’s work.

In introducing the film’s premiere, Ezra Buzzington was excited. He said that this is the kind of programming that defines fringe and the kind of film that he hoped would cross his desk. Do catch Pure Shock Value. Just three screenings are left in this fringe, on June 19,  24, and 25. Good luck to Furious in its new theatre-film identity. Good news: they have another film project on tap.


In : Film