An Ordinary Family – Day 6 FFF 2012

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An Ordinary Family

An Ordinary Family
I wanted to like this film.

It had a very compelling, contemporary story. A gay man brings his lover to a family vacation, unbeknownst to his brother who is a minister complete with wife and children. What ensues are the typical scenes you’d expect from this formula–brother confronting brother, the talk about how dad would feel if he were alive, mother playing the peacemaker.

I found the film to be somewhat shallow and the story arc to be disjointed and chaotic. During the Q & A afterwards, I discovered why. Every scene and all the dialogue in the movie was done extemporaneously. While the story arc was mapped out, each scene was created unscripted.

Perhaps this approach led to moments of wonderful spontaneity. For me, however, it mostly led to moments that felt cliche-ish and to an overall story that lacked the kind of depth one can find in a movie that is crafted more carefully.

At the end of the film, in a moment of FFF creativity, one of the lead actors was able to do a Q & A using Skype from his bedroom in New York. I asked him about the advantages and disadvantages of doing a non-scripted movie.

He liked how each scene could be “fresh and spontaneous. You have to listen to what the other person is saying,” he continued. “You have to figure out where your voice in the conversation will come.”

As for the downside he replied, “Disadvantages are that you don’t know where it’s going. We had one couple that was supposed to play a larger role. However, they got got marginalized as the week wore on.”

While I’m a big fan of extemporaneous theatre, I also recognize it takes a special talent to really pull it off.  This movie was OK. According to the actor who spoke, it was an important film for the LGBT community. But it’s not the best the FFF had to offer.

Audience Reaction
Some audience members don’t agree with me, however. “I thought it was awesome. I liked the emotion. It was honest and real, very believable. I liked that they had the kids in it,” says Geri from Toronto.

“It was excellent. It was amazing. We’re going to watch it again, now that we know it was ad libbed,” saidTricia.  Marilyn chimed in,
“Such a meaningful story for today. Struggles of a real family.” Tricia added, It was beyond what I was expecting.”

Another woman joins the conversation and together the three of them have a very animated talk about the unscripted nature of this movie. Isn’t this wonderful? Even a film that may not be the best provides moments of discussion and insight.

It’s why we love the FFF!

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2 Responses to “An Ordinary Family – Day 6 FFF 2012”

  1. Chad Miller Says:

    Lance,

    I played William in the movie, and I wanted to thank you for attending the movie and the review. I appreciate not only your feedback, but also that you chose to include some other snippets of audience conversation.

    As I mentioned in the Q&A, I can only hope that this film serves as a conversation starter for people to explore these themes, whether through self-reflection or in dialog with others. Your review takes place in that larger conversation stream.

    Thank you again for your thoughts.

    Chad/William

    • LanceAround Says:

      Hi Chad:

      Thanks for joining the conversation. I feel bad that my review of your film was a little tepid. I know how difficult it is to make a movie and I respect the amount of effort and passion that you put into your film. And, like I mentioned in my review, I think I was in the minority. Everyone I spoke to after the movie talked about how much they liked it. In addition Matt, the programming director for the FFF, listed it as one of his “must see” films at the festival.

      What I did love was the Q & A we had with you, via Skype, at the end of the film. Your comments really helped me understand the creative process you went through in crafting this film. It was a lot of work by a lot of people who were truly committed to the process and passionate about the topics explored in the film.

      Regardless of the artistic merit of the film, the topics of dealing with family dynamics–particularly about LGBT issues–is an important conversation for our society today. As you point out, to that end your film offers a great starting point for an even larger, and more important, dialogue.

      I wish you success and please keep me posted on your upcoming projects!

      LanceAround

      PS: LOVED the Mickey Mouse ears you were wearing during the Q & A. Very appropriate for the audience and a nice touch!

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