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POPATOPOLIS (2009)

-Review by Nic Brown-

“BIG CHASE + BIG CHEST.” That is the secret of a successful film according to filmmaker Jim Wynorski. Jim who? Jim Wynorski is a legend in the B-Movie genre. He’s directed more than 75 feature films and, as for how you define successful, well he brings his movies in almost always on time and under budget. Now Wynorski is facing his most difficult challenge: shooting an entire feature length film in just three days! Writer/director Clay Westervelt sets out to follow Jim down the road of 72 hour filmmaking in his newest documentary: POPATOPOLIS.

 

Through a combination of on the set footage, clips from Wynorski’s huge body of work, and interviews with everyone from legendary filmmaker Roger Corman to Teresa Wynorski (Jim’s Mom), Westervelt sets out to not only show how you shoot a film in an impossibly short time, but also what kind of filmmaker it takes to do just that.

 

Wynorski’s life is opened up to us through Westervelt’s camera. We see inside his home, where he displays posters from all his films, and the kitchen cabinets are filled with video tapes, books and DVDs instead of dishes. Then it is off to the start of production on Wynorski’s new feature: THE WITCHES OF BREASTWICK - his newest tongue-in-cheek soft core sex comedy.

 

The set in this case is not a Hollywood studio or an exotic local. Wynorski has rented a cabin in the woods and it will double as both location and housing for the cast and crew. Of course the entire crew in this case is cinematographer Andrea Rossotto and sound engineer Langston Ball. Make-up - the actors can do their own. Wardrobe - they can wear what they have with them (ladies bring plenty of lingerie). Craft services… well there’s the kitchen.

 

Perhaps the most telling sign of how daunting the task of making a film in three days can be comes the night before shooting starts. During a cast meeting in the cabin, Wynorski outlines the scenes they will shoot the next day and as the number of scenes climbs, cinematographer Rossotto’s expression becomes more and more alarmed.

 

The general humor of the trials and tribulations of high-speed, low-budget filmmaking, covers an underlying sadness expressed by many of the cast and Wynorski’s fellow filmmakers, as they talk about the way the industry is changing and what one must do to make money now in the industry. The actresses who have worked with him talk about what a wonderful and supportive man Wynorski is in one breath, and what a heartless bastard he is in the next, all with deep sincerity.

 

POPATOPOLIS is a bitter-sweet documentary. It captures the genius that allows Wynorski to make so many successful films and at the same time the sadness at what this talented filmmaker must do to continue making a living in an industry where the rules are changing faster than anyone realizes. Whether you’re a fan of “B” cinema, a filmmaker looking for tips, or just someone looking for a good laugh, check out Clay Westervelt’s POPATOPOLIS. You’ll see more than just what it takes to shoot a movie in just three days; you’ll also get a very honest and personal look inside the most successful filmmaker you’ve never heard of: Jim Wynorski.

Click here to see the Popatopolis trailer!

Click below to visit the film's website: www.popatopolis.com



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