STUDENT FILM TURNS CAMERA ON GORE & CHINAGATE!
by Thomas M. Sipos, managing editor.
[February 19, 2002]
A new student film targets corrupt politics -- but amazingly! -- its focus
is on Al Gore and the Democrats!
That's the shocking tale
told by San Pedro, a half hour USC student film written & directed
by Jason A. Apuzzo, Ph.D., available for online viewing at iFilm.com.
Pedro tells the tale of a hard-boiled bounty hunter (actor John Barrett)
who seeks a cursed Chinese statue that threatens to expose Gore's Chinagate
connections during the 2000 presidential election. But an immigrant
(actress Govindini Murty) stumbles upon that statue first. Murkily
shot, blending the conspiratorial and the supernatural, San Pedro evokes All The President's Men shot through the prism of X-Files or David Lynch.
the film's focus on Al Gore, filmmaker Apuzzo was primarily interested
in a good story. "I made a film about the Chinagate scandal because
it was great story material for a noir thriller. It's incredible
to me that no one in Hollywood tried it before. This shows how fearful
people in Hollywood are of being perceived as conservative.
was intended to be enjoyable, in the same way that any other film might
be. I don't think of it as being political or having a political
agenda -- any more than The Manchurian Candidate has a specific
political agenda. San Pedro is a thriller and a satire. It just happens to treat the Democratic Party as a kind of criminal Mafia.
attracted to the Democratic Party for the same reason that Francis Ford
Coppola was attracted to the Mafia: because corrupt people are more interesting. There's more room for them to grow. Democrats happen to be more open
to corruption because they're far more idealistic about what government
can do for people. When that idealism is shattered, they have a tendency
to embrace the dark side.
that doesn't mean that they have to stay there.
a conservative. But I don't think conservatives make for very interesting
subject matter for movies. The way that films teach moral lessons
chiefly through cautionary tales. The Godfather films are
cautionary tales in which Michael Corleone slowly strips himself of his
own humanity. The new Star Wars trilogy tells essentially
the same story."
Hollywood's Leftist reputation, how had Apuzzo's project faired at USC's
famed film school?
"The USC Cinema faculty is as hard-Left as they come, so San Pedro was made as an independent thesis project outside USC's usual production
chain. At no point did anyone approach me and say, explicitly, 'You
cannot make a movie critical of the Democratic Party.' They don't
say that sort of thing because they don't need to. But I was made
to know in a thousand different ways, some more subtle than others, that
if I wanted to make a film critical of Gore or the Democratic Party, I
would not be able to use USC's equipment or production resources, or even
its production insurance.
after I first submitted my script to the production faculty, I suddenly
found myself on a pro-Gore/anti-Bush email list -- populated, coincidentally,
by about half the faculty, and moderated by the person I'd submitted the
gets the message. I even had a guy drop out of producing the film,
because his wife worked at DreamWorks and he was worried about the film's
reason I was able to make San Pedro was because Apple Computer has
made digital video production affordable for students and independent filmmakers
with tiny budgets. I was also helped out by fellowship grants from
the libertarian Institute for Humane Studies. They liked the script and were very supportive."
Pedro incorporates clips from Gore visiting the Buddhist temple. Apuzzo had difficulty obtaining the clips, but finally got them from the
Republican National Committee.
"I'd tried getting [the clips] from ABC News Archives, CBS News Archives,
CNN, etc. -- all because I didn't want to be accused of making a partisan
film with the cooperation of the Republican Party.
was that every mainstream news archive I contacted 'couldn't find it,'
had 'lost' the footage, didn't know what I was talking about, etc. I even discovered that this same footage had once been subpoenaed by the
House of Representatives, but had mysteriously 'disappeared.'
I called someone at the RNC (I'm not supposed to mention who) who was working
on a high-profile project for the White House. She dug out the footage
me and took care of the rights. That was how the temple footage ended
up in the film."
past decade, film festivals have been the path to success (or at least,
to distribution) for most independent films. But Apuzzo thinks those
days are largely over. "The internet has made the festival circuit
obsolete. More people saw the film in the first few days online than
would ever see it on the festival circuit.
are being forwarded to George Lucas, Francis Ford Coppola, Steven Spielberg,
and the Creative Artists Agency. I've had an offer from a competing
website to take San Pedro from iFilm, and an offer to put it on
public television. I've been invited to do show-and-tell on the making
Pedro at L.A. Film School in April.
dedicates San Pedro to Rush Limbaugh, George Lucas, and Steve Jobs.
"All have been inspirational to me. 'Think differently' or 'Think
different' is the Apple Computer motto -- and a very good one. All
three of those guys achieved tremendous success by going against the grain
in their professions. Limbaugh took on the liberal media monopoly
and won. Lucas took on Hollywood and won. Jobs re-invented
the personal computer -- while Bill Gates follows him around like a puppy
dog, copying everything he does.
Pedro is part homage to Lucas's student film, THX11384EB: Electronic
Labyrinth. Lucas took his student short and expanded it into the feature THX 1138. San
Pedro is designed to set up Death in Los Angeles, which will
be a feature. Death in Los Angeles will deal with the same
undercover bounty agent, but will tell a larger story."
story aside, San Pedro demonstrates the progress of consumer production
equipment. It was shot on a mini-DV Canon XL-1, then edited, mixed
and composited on an iMac using Final Cut Pro. The film's total cost
was about $3000.
believes San Pedro's budget and equipment shock people even more
than its message. "The irony is that I probably would have refused
USC even if the school had allowed me use of its equipment. Film
schools no longer have a monopoly on cutting-edge equipment. They're
usually behind what you can get at Fry's or CompUSA.
belongs to a wave of libertarian and conservative artists using new technology
to independently publish and produce art in a variety of media and genres: literary
satire, horror, science
fiction, and even heavy
"Conservatives have ceded the arts and humanities -- which is to say, the
culture -- to the Left over the last 35 years. Our college campuses
are teeming with John Walker Lindhs who haven't had the temerity to actually
take up arms against their country -- but who share Lindh's nihilism. They're
the Columbine killers, fueled by the violence and despair of films like The
Matrix -- a film Goebbels would've loved. The corrosion
of the humanities by the Left has created these monsters, and there will
be worse ones to come.
Bush, who is otherwise doing a marvelous job, doesn't seem aware that the
culture war is equally important to the war on terror. The universities
are almost totally lost, not to mention the wasteland that Hollywood's
take a generation of work to remedy this problem, and it will involve conservatives
engaging in the arts & humanities. It will need to involve the
movies, which happen to be our major popular artform. I intend
to play a role in this."
Copyright 2002 by HollywoodInvestigator.com
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