UPDATE 6/15/2005: Six Obstructions Challenge #2 now posted. Feel free to use this one, though, if you want.


Back from a short vacation to the D.C. area — and a longer vacation from blogging. I’ll be writing up soon a couple of recent movie-related events, including my thoughts about the new Adam Sandler movie, The Longest Yard, which I saw at an advance screening last week.

But firstly, because they may be reading, I’d like to dedicate this post to some young filmmakers at Tastee Diner in Bethesda, MD. We were discussing The Five Obstructions by Jorgen Leth and Lars von Trier. Although I haven’t seen the movie, I grok the premise: one director challenges the other to re-make a short film five different times with five different ‘obstructions‘:
1. must be shot in Cuba, no shot longer than 12 seconds
2. meal segment must be shot in Bombay and Leth must act
3. full freedom
4. must be done as a cartoon
5. Leth can only provide a voiceover to what von Trier shoots

This group of filmmakers wants to flex their filmmaking muscles in a similar way, but needs someone impartial to provide the obstructions. I volunteered to make them up. Other filmmakers out there are welcome to join in the fun.

The rules are explained after the jump, followed by Making the Movie Challenge Number One.

The jump…Rules

There are two official ways to play. You can write your own script, or you can use Twenty Dollar Love (right click/control-click to save as Rich Text, Final Draft, Movie Magic), which has already been made three times by three different directors. I’m licensing it for any use, commerical or non-commercial, as long as you include the credit “Based on the story by J. Ott”.

If you’re using “Twenty Dollar Love”, only obey part D. Otherwise, you’ll need some obstructions in the premise of your script. I’ve made a list of choices in Props, Characters and Situations. A roll of the die will select the obstructions in challenge number one. Leftover items may be recycled in a later challenge.

If you want to play unofficially, you can roll your own dice or cherry-pick from choices below.

A. Props
The prop must be featured prominently in the plot.
1. A red baloon
2. A backpack filled with women’s undergarments
3. A jar of peanut butter
4. A pocket fan
5. A power drill
6. Sixteen candles

B. Characters
This must be a prominent character, defined as having twenty percent+ of lines or screentime, although he/she/it need not be the protagonist.
1. A mute little boy
2. A stressed-out yoga instructor
3. A talking fish
4. A noir detective
5. A pious politician
6. A clean-cut skateboarder

C. Situations
The following location or scene must be in the movie.
1. Set in 2056
2. Someone is taken hostage
3. Set in a nursing home
4. Someone is given a massage
5. An argument over clothes at a laundromat
6. Attempted patricide (son or daughter killing a father)

D. Techniques
1. Write, shoot and edit all in 24 hours
2. Cannot contain a single spoken word of English*, or subtitles
3. Only tight close-ups on people (no wider than the top of the head to the shoulders)
4. No camera movement or zooms allowed
5. Can only use daylight to light
6. Except for the eyes of actors, must not contain the color blue (it may be removed or altered in post)

* that’s in the American Heritage Dictionary, sticklaz

For the next challenge, I’ll be replacing some of the choices. Send your obstruction ideas to makingthemovie AT-SIGN gmail DOT com with the subject line “Obstruction Ideas”. The idea to have things that can be done quickly and on a low budget and that force the filmmakers to be creative to end up with a good, coherent movie.

The Challenge

This is the first challenge, decided from rolling a six-sided die 1d6 four times, witnessed by my girlfriend:

A. Prop #3: A jar of peanut butter
B. Character #6: A clean-cut skateboarder
C. Situation #4: Someone is given a massage
D. Technique #5: Can only use daylight to light it

You have until June 15, 2005 when I’ll release the 2nd challenge. There are no prizes planned at this time, but you never know.

If you’re proud of your results, send me a web-compressed file or a miniDV copy and I’ll try to get it up on the site. For a mailing address or questions, contact makingthemovie AT-SIGN gmail DOT com with the subject line “Challenge Number One”.