originally posted by: shadow watcher
Great looking movie and I'll be checking it out soon.
I saw that Rob logged on and I hope he chimes in too about the film.
Also, I really enjoyed THE EXPERIMENT, it was well done.
Do you guys have more ideas out there for future projects?
Matty just introduced me to this forum and it seems like there's a wealth of valuable information here. I'm in the process of moving "off-grid"
myself and I wish I had the time to be more active, but I'll check in as frequently as possible.
Napoleon said, "Space we can recover, time never." I repeated this quote in my head every day and I made certain that I would use this time as
wisely as possible. If other men my age were in college receiving an education, then I would educate myself.
Dr. Charles William Eliot, President of Harvard from 1869 to 1909, and cousin of T.S. Eliot, famously asserted that one could obtain the elements of a
liberal education by spending no more than fifteen minutes a day reading from a collection of books that could fit on a five-foot shelf. When news of
this proclamation reached the publishers at P.F. Collier and Sons, they saw a golden opportunity and challenged Dr. Eliot to compile such a
The challenge was accepted and a year later the 51 volume anthology was complete. Originally known as Dr. Eliot’s Five-Foot Shelf, the collection is
now referred to as the Harvard Classics.
Almost a century later, at the age of 18, I was sentenced to five years in prison for aggravated assault. I ended up in the Albert C. Wagner Youth
Correctional Facility, a prison reserved for violent offenders between the ages of 18 and 25. The institution, one of the State of New Jersey’s
roughest, was commonly referred to within the prison system as Gladiator School.
It was here that I first stumbled upon Volume 3 – Bacon, Milton’s Prose, and Thomas Browne, brought to my dormitory by an inmate/librarian on a
cart. With more than the recommended 15 minutes a day to spare each day, I devoured the volume and was left hungry for more.
I was working in the officer’s dining room at the time and my duties granted me access to the “street food” which was prepared for the staff.
With the inmate librarian as hungry for the bacon, egg, and cheese sandwiches smuggled back to the dorm in my boot as I was for the next volume from
Dr. Eliot’s Collection, a bargain was quickly struck and my education began. The curriculum prepared by a long dead academic. The tuition prepared
by an African American prep cook named Wiz from Asbury Park.
All told, I ended up spending eight years in prison before I started getting my life together at the age of 28. In that time, The Five Foot Shelf was
So you see, Matty wasn't lying when he said our lives took divergent paths, but my time in prison was not wasted and while learning how to navigate a
landscape ruled by violent gang members and dirty cops while managing to never join or take any #, I also learned some other stuff.
At any rate, Matty and I were destined to work together, not simply because of our friendship, but due to the fact that we compliment each other so
well. It's a cliche, but we truly are the proverbial yin and yang. We're opposites in more ways than we're alike and I don't know if we could have
made this movie if that weren't the case. Mainly because Matty is something of a believer and I am something of a skeptic.
We did a TON of research going into this. I watched every documentary, read countless eye witness accounts, studied footage, spoke to eyewitnesses in
person, etc. A lot of what we saw might make the average person's skin crawl, but it didn't move me very much. I HAD spent ten years in the prison
system and worked another five as a union ironworker, walking 4inch beams 250 ft in the air. There wasn't a lot that would actually scare me. I
don't rule anything out - you can't prove a negative - but there were only a few events, such as the Phoenix Lights, the Battle of Los Angeles,
Roswell, and the 1952 White House Incident, that really blew me away.
So I focused less on the aliens and more on the challenge of writing a good found footage film, because in my opinion, there had only been one good
one, Blair Witch Project. When I saw BWP, I, like everyone else, thought anybody could pick up a camera and head out to the woods for a night and come
back with that movie. But if you watch the found footage films that have come out since and you see how many pitfalls they managed to avoid, you begin
to realize the genius of that film.
For example, regular movies are filled with expositional dialogue that fills you in on the backstory of the characters. The second you try that in a
found footage film, the whole illusion collapses because that's not how people actually talk. So I really examined how these movies worked and tried
to figure out what rules we needed to adhere to, and which ones we could throw out.
The rule we thought we could break, and did break, was the one that said these movies had to be a whole lot of build up for one crazy scene at the
end. We wanted action. We wanted a rollercoaster ride. We wanted to establish strong yet flawed characters early on and then throw everything and the
kitchen sink at them. One of the things I'm proud of about this script and this movie is that none of these characters are stereotypes. When you
think you have them figured out, they surprise you.
That's how people are. It's human nature to profile people and put them in a box, but, as Buddha has said, "Nothing is as it seems, nor is it
I'm rambling now. I'll check back in tomorrow night.
~Robert Alvin Lewis