I have been having a pretty nice 2013 so far, but an unexpected highlight for me has been the release of a book called Fervid Filmmaking: 66 Cult Pictures of Vision, Verve and No Self-Restraint, by film writer/filmmaker Mike Watt. Why? Because one of those 66 pictures is a little (and I mean little) movie I made in college with my friends back in Bloomington, Minnesota. Watt says very wonderful things about the film. So I figured I would return the favor and let y’all know about Mr. Watt’s book…

fervid filmmaking

The interesting conceit of the book is that Watt levels the playing field for all 66 films, which range wildly in scope, budget and pedigree. So my little film, Hey Stop Stabbing Me!, which cost less than $500 and was made by a bunch of 20yearolds, is given the same shake and attention as films like HBO’s Cast a Deadly Spell, Alejandro Jodorowsky’s Santa Sangre, or Terry Gilliam’s Tideland. There are familiar cult films like Forbidden Zone, Xtro, and The Monkeys’ Head mixed with – again – movies like mine that you’ve surely never heard of (though Stabbing Me does have at least one superfan, who sent me a commemorative plate made to celebrate the film). Watt isn’t necessarily looking to show you movies you’ve never heard of. Watt’s motive is to look at films that he has labeled “Kitchen Sink movies.” Movies that, to quote Watt, “borrow from across the artistic spectrum to create a wild, disorienting ride.” Or in simpler terms, movies that are going for something different, and go for it hard. My friends and I weren’t really trying to do anything in particular (certainly not disorient anyone) other than entertain ourselves and make a funny film over our summer break. But I guess that’s the point. Watt is attracted to the spirit of these films, be it Terry Gilliam’s madman outsider art or in my own case, youthful I-don’t-know-any-better enthusiasm.

As much fun as it is to read a good critical shredding, it is always more emotionally rewarding to read positive criticism, someone with the ability to articulate why they love something waxing on why they love it. And for someone such as myself who is always looking for undiscovered film gems, Watt’s book is a treasure trove of new ‘white whales.’ I’m only familiar with about half of the titles Watt covers. I obviously bought the book because I learned Stabbing Me was covered in it, but it is earning its keep already as I’ve started searching for some of these films, and have been inspired to rewatch films I haven’t seen in years, like Anguish and Oblivion. I mean, come on, Watt put Full Moon’s Oblivion in his book about artistic expression in film. That’s just so excellent and insane.