Recently I discovered a fascinating topic of discussion over at Alex Cunningham’s website Oddbill*. The topic is Lo Fi Sci Fi and Mr. Cunningham, AKA Oddbill himself, is doing an excellent job of finding, reviewing and contexualizing a sub genre I had little to no inroads with before finding his blog.
Until today my first and only experiences with Lo Fi Sci Fi were probably not that much different than some of the rest of yours will have been: Darren Aronofsky’s powerhouse Pi back around the turn of the century and a couple of years later Shane Carruth’s brilliantly budget-conscious masterpiece Primer**. While watching both of those films I felt I was witnessing something truly special and as such when both ended I found myself desperately wanting some comparable material to follow them up with.
No luck either time.
In the last couple of years a handful of movies have surfaced through the studios that have been more or less in line with these previous ones, most recently Sleep Dealer (I think, I still haven’t gotten to it on my cue yet) and District 9, which in spite of having an obviously bigger budget than the rest of the films I’m talking about still had the Lo Fi feeling to it. But a movie every couple years isn’t much to feed a starving fan and as such I’m regularly aware, at least peripherally, of an ongoing hunger left where Carruth and Aronofsky awoke an appetite.
Enter Mr. Cunningham. I’ve been clicking links all morning and spending waaaaayyyy more time than I had planned watching content on the Internet thanks to him, unearthing the foundations of what I’m pretty sure will be the next generation of creators preceded by the likes of Peter Jackson and Sam Raimi to come from the underground and be snatched up by studios with some investment capitol and a desire to surf the wave of the next big thing. I am religiously fascinated by this subculture of DIY creators out there making small films with BIG ideas. Most notably right now I’d like to talk about INFEST WISELY.
Written by DIY extraordinaire Jim Munroe here’s the logline, quoted directly from the film’s website:
‘A new, chewable nanotechnology lets people
take pictures with their eyes and cures cancer. But the early adopters
find out it’s hard to uninstall something after it’s spread through
their bloodstream… INFEST WISELY is a lo-fi sci-fi no-budget feature in seven episodes, each with a different director and intertwining characters.’
What part of ‘A new, chewable nanotechnology…’ doesn’t make you want to fly over to that site*** and watch this flick, eh? I’m two ‘episodes’ in and this is some fascinating stuff. I’m not going
to tell you that it’s Oscar material – that’s not the point. The point
is there is an underground of people giving us what is, to me,
essentially the modern technological equivalent of the pulp stories
written by the likes of Philip K. Dick and his contemporaries in the
50’s and 60’s.
No matter what you think of its production or execution Infest Wisely is good – it is a much needed balancing factor to
what Sci Fi has become in Hollywood, namely big Budget, big Name
spectacles more concerned with effects and marketing than story or,
dare I say it in a discussion on science fiction, science.
Infest Wisely was exactly the kind of thing I wanted to have on hand after leaving Richard Kelly’s The Box a couple weeks ago. The Box,
which I compared then to a big-budget recreation of a fifties Sci Fi
film, is a positive catalyst on the opposite end of the scale
represented here by Infest Wisely’s low budget, Lo Fi. With enough of this kind of thing perhaps the scale will balance and we’ll all be a lot better off as intelligent moviegoers with what we get when small budget/big idea meets big budget/small idea in the middle.
Until then I’ll be hanging out on Oddbill and starting my own searching habits on the net.
* Link to it here:
** Where the hell did you go Mr. Carruth? After Primer I wanted something more and I’m salivating with interest as I write this, surfing around on another window reading up on your next film, ‘A Topiary’.
*** And you can do just that if you go here: