Tuesday, March 22, 2011

My White Whale - "Frank Film"

Frank Film, Frank MOURIS, 1973 by shortanimatedworld

On Tuesday I read an article in the Wall Street Journal entitled, "Two Animated Dog Sitters," by Ralph Gardner, Jr. that is about two dog sitters, Frank and Caroline Mouris. The reason this article caught my eye is because many years ago Frank Mouris was my White Whale. To explain we must rewind my little life back to when I was a teenager and made my first film, Floods: A National Disgrace, a mocumentary about pants that "flood" (sometimes called "highwaters" it is defined as pants that fall around the ankle. This refers to the fact that you can wear them when there is a flood, or "high waters." At that time pants that were too short were not fashionable.)

Floods was a eight minute Super 8 mm film with a magnetic stripe for sync sound - made a long time before the miracle of the Interwebs and digital filmmaking. I entered the film in the Brooklyn Film Festival. From my vantage point in California that festival sounded very exotic. The film was appreciated for its humor and was selected to be part of a group of films from the festival that toured the country screening in libraries, schools and community theaters. The film that won the festival Grand Prize was an experimental piece called, Frank Film, directed by Frank Mouris.

Click to enlarge - program from the Brooklyn Film Festival
In those pre-Internet days it was hard to see short films. I had no idea what Frank Film was about or looked like. All I knew was that it kept winning festivals and eventually that years Oscar for best short film. My film was always coming up short because everyone loved the alleged super fantastic Frank Film. To be honest my film was no where as good as Frank Mouris' film but in my crazy teenage mind I thought, "what's Frank Film got that my film don't got!" It bugged me for a long time. Fast forward years later to 2009 and we are in pre-production on These Amazing Shadows. Co-director Paul Mariano and I are reviewing the list of 550 films on the National Film Registry and I come across a very familiar title - Frank Film! Once again Frank Film is one step ahead of me! (It was selected to the Registry in 1996.) I quickly did a web search, found a link to the film and watched it for the first time. I liked it.

Frank Film did not make it into These Amazing Shadows. I want to make it clear that my youthful bitterness and jealousy had nothing to do with that decision.

With Frank Film's selection to the NFR it was designated for preservation. Fate has not been as kind to Floods: A National Disgrace. I stored the film badly and it can no longer be projected. Its now only exists in my own distorted memory - perhaps that is fitting.

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