Creating a micro-budget indie film that is both hilarious and wildly original is no simple task. The Exquisite Corpse Project, which has been racking up awards at festivals in Los Angeles, is a film deserving of a much larger audience. Part absurdist storytelling, part documentary on the nature of the collaborative process, the movie is incredibly entertaining and represents everything I love about truly independent filmmaking.
What's it about? Director Ben Popik brought together five comedy writer friends (Chioke Nassor, Joel Clark, Adam Conover, Dave Segal and Raphael Bob-Waksberg) and presented them with a challenge: Each had to write 15 pages of a movie while only being able to read the previous five pages of the script. They agreed to write the movie as long as Popik agreed to shoot whatever was on the page, and thus, the concept was born. All but two of the film's collaborators were founders of the sketch comedy troupe, Olde English, so the movie certainly brings the funny. What really makes the movie work is the seamless integration of documentary footage, which provides a sweet, occasionally sentimental undercurrent to the not-as-disjointed-as-you-may-expect scripted story.
You might as well check out the trailer:
In some ways The Exquisite Corpse Project could serve as a poster-child for the challenges facing talented independent filmmakers in 2012. The film's DSLR cinematography looks great, the concept is wildly original and consistently entertaining, the production features slick effects and catchy music, and there really isn't a moment where the film feels uninspired. In my mind, it's simple: A large percentage of all types of people over the age of 16 (or so) should undoubtedly enjoy this movie.
This is a film that was engineered to be the best possible product, not the easiest sell or to fit perfectly into a known genre. The product is stellar, and in an ideal world, that should carry the most weight. The reality is that the film faces some obvious marketing challenges: The film doesn't feature any known stars (at least yet), and it's not the easiest concept to communicate to closed minds in limited time. The sad and scary truth is that such marketing challenges could potentially prohibit a film this excellent from reaching the audience it deserves. But, fuck that nonsense. The Exquisite Corpse Project is a smart, funny film made by smart, funny people. I see no reason why smart, funny people shouldn't embrace it as long as they're made aware of its existence.
I'm incredibly anxious to see how The Exquisite Corpse Project continues to fare, and I sincerely wish the filmmakers all the best. This is the type of indie that I want to see succeed.
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