Friday, July 06, 2007

Those Who Don't Know Cinema History Are Doomed To Repeat It

Over at Box Office Weekly, guest-me Skot wrote a little piece about Justin-TV yesterday. By the way, good work so far, big fellah! Anyway, to catch you up, Justin-TV is a project in which Justin Ko, a web developer, has strapped a webcam to his head and streams video 24 hours a day. Any time you can log in and see what Justin is doing. Often it's nothing, just like your life.

I just realized why the concept of Justin-TV seems familiar. It emulates the weirdo Robert Montgomery detective movie, THE LADY IN THE LAKE. It was a typical mystery with a gimmick: the whole movies is shot as seen through Montgomery's eyes, which means the only time you see the star's face is if he's looking into the mirror. And he doesn't do that often, because he'd look like a camera with an exhausted cinematographer strapped to its side.

Justin-TV recently expanded, putting cameras on the heads of other people, including a hot blond that you never see. I think this strategy is a mistake. They're only ripping off the same idea. In order to expand and diversify, they need to steal OTHER MOVIE GIMMICKS.

Idea #1. A webcam in a lifeboat. Just like in, you know, Hitchcock's LIFEBOAT. It would be like BIG BROTHER only much, much more limited. 24 hours a day, the same 8 people, all getting more and more annoyed at each other. Maybe one of them is a Nazi spy. Probably Al-Quaeda would work better in this modern context.

Idea #2. At some screenings of THE INCREDIBLY STRANGE CREATURES WHO STOPPED LIVING AND BECAME MIXED-UP ZOMBIES, masked ushers rushed into the auditorium during climactic scenes and waved cardboard axes at moviegoers. How difficult would it be, when Justin is having a conversation with a roomful of geeks on your computer, for them to trace your I.P. address and send a team of local Geeks over to your home or office, to duplicate the experience? Note to self: make sure viewers sign a release first, to avoid breaking and entering charges.

Idea #3. During the beta test of the site, stage an elaborate, scary trip to the woods; have Justin and the gang killed off one by one, and claim it's all real. Then, just before you go with version 1.o, announce it was all faked. Yeah, I'm still bitter about BLAIR WITCH PROJECT.

Idea #4. Electric shocks. William Castle wired some seats for showings of THE TINGLER. I'm not quite sure how you'd integrate it with Justin-TV but I like the idea of administering random electric shocks to people. Note to self: confirm appointment with therapist.

Idea #5. "This website is so exciting, no one will be allowed to log in during the last 20 minutes." Lame idea, but easy to implement.

Idea #6. Hitchcock again - instead of a camera strapped to someones head, have one that is trained on the apartment building across the alley, like in REAR WINDOW. Like Justin-TV it's voyeurism, but it also offers some variety!

And finally, Idea #7. Two cameras, mounted on either side of the head. 3-D, man! I can't believe they aren't doing it already! I know what you're thinking but if headaches and motion sickness aren't already a problem with Justin-TV, 3-D ain't gonna make 'em one.

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