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Buried Treasure in IT: GW’s Full Monty
by Steve Finefrock - Hollywood Forum [scriptwriter] 4/6/07

FROM THE PHONE BOOTH: The Smallest Space in  Hollywood

So much more to be said than this brief, preliminary “teaser” about Al Bore’s IT – “Inconvenient Truth” – after viewing the film on ShowTime, then finally acquiring the DVD from the library.

Thanks to “special features” on the DVD.  This global warming agitprop is the Fully Monty product of the Hollywood treatment, giving “GW” the best boost of a leftwing scheme in my lifetime.  Not since FDR’s minions convinced history that he “solved” the Depression with his confiscatory socialist schemes have the dems pulled off such a coup de facts.
So let me tease you with a fraction from this target-rich environment, drawn from laborious examination of the director’s commentary track – ninety minutes – and the producers’ simultaneous chatter – also ninety minutes – plus the “making of” short-track.  It all reveals, much revelations, on this project’s genesis, and why it has had such impact: it was a FULL-COURT PRESS BY ALL OF HOLLYWOOD.


Founder of Hollywood Forum, a speaker-bureau and panel-discussion vehicle to "Bring the Potomac to the Palisades" on issues that overlap politics and culture with the Hollywood film-TV influence on such national concerns. His scripts have addressed politics [including a TV series pilot/bible package about state political combat, called "A State of the Union"], hazardous materials [from twelve years in emergency management, including six years managing FEMA's Superfund curriculum for hazmat], terrorism, equestrian reincarnation, serial murderer killing journalists in the nation's capitol, and fantasy about time-wasters. Finefrock is proprietor of PhoneBooth: The Smallest Space in  Hollywood... [go to Finefrock index]

Most revealing is something yet unseen by me in any of the coverage: the three audiences for three separate filmings, at Paramount studios in Hollywood [actually near Hollywood, unlike other studios’ far-distant locales in LA] were recruited by e-mail announcements sent out by – drum roll, maestro – MoveOn.Org!  And notice: the filming was not at a lecture hall at Paramount: it was on a soundstage, in a specially-designed, custom-built “hall” with a 45-foot projection screen, with a friendly audience [as so recruited] which applauded Al Bore as he entered, and each crowd stood applauding at its close.
All aspects were designed for four-camera shooting angles, with extensive rehearsals.  And, the visuals were re-composed to suit the large-format screen: many of Al’s laptop computer graphics were old, and not sharp enough for the grand show’s expanded scale, so the producers’ staff tracked the originals, thus maximizing the quality – and impact – of the 45 foot screen’s capacity.
Yep, they gave it the Full Monty, the whole nine-yards, pushed the envelope, put Alexandra Pelosi’s jealous commentary – who knew you’d win an Oscar for a PowerPoint presentation? – into the ashbin.  This was a FEATURE FILM, with the full skills and total cooperation of Hotel Whiskey [‘HW’ for Hollywood, those letters phonetically equally ‘Hotel’ and ‘Whiskey’] added to the mix: the producers of “The Day After Tomorrow” donated scenes from that film for this effort, as did many editors, graphics designers and a host of other rooms in Hotel Whiskey pitching in to maximize this project.  
Director Davis Guggenheim claims he was never that much of an environmentalist until doing IT, yet throughout these revealing voice-over passages, the entire production staff was so committed that most wore “Stop Global Warming” bracelets, even the camera operator flagged by producer Laurie David [married to comedy writer Larry David], to the “behind the scenes” video camera, for all to see in brief close-up of the camera’s operator’s arm.
Even Al’s ascent on the manlift was pre-planned, with camera angles, plus the placement of a “gobo” light to account for his elevation taking him out of the regular lighting.  The manlift was draped to block out the bright colors of its paint, so the Pontiff would ascend as if Christ into the heavens, without any sign of assistance save for a faint hum of its motor.
Money [oh yes, lots of money].
Passion [truly a Passion Play from the left].
Additionally, we learn that supposedly – very supposedly – Gore was reluctant to exploit his son’s near-death experience, nor exploit his election defeat, but the crew convinced him it would humanize an otherwise dry product.  Nope, we mustn’t think Gore would exploit again his son’s misery – after all, he did that at the 2000 democrat convention.  Surely he wouldn’t be so crass a second time!  He had to be convinced to let them pore through his home photos, and create a montage oddly familiar to the one at the DNC conclave seven years ago.
Also a creative indicator: Davis Guggenheim filmed several scenes at the Gore farm using an old regular 8mm camera, loaded with now-ancient Kodachrome-I film.  He notes, as experienced photographers know, that it renders a look from the 50s; and what some may not know, that you can find some stock hidden away and find an obscure processor who can develop this now-obsolete film.  
The result?  Those scenes are viewed by a virgin audience, quite intentionally, as if they are old family film from the original era, when in fact they are contrivances to fool the audience. Which fact you will not know, but for (1) viewing the Director’s Commentary, and (2) knowing something about film, images, color palettes, etc.  Not the province of the typical viewer in Shawnee, OK, where it ran for three days.  Even in a red-state county it was given distribution – that shows Paramount’s commitment to make this agitprop effective, with the enthusiastic support by Sharon Lansing, who gushed at its premiere at Sundance.
Yes, folks, IT is a target-rich environment, and more is to come, maybe submitted to a dead-tree publication, but you will get the Full Monty from the right, chapter by chapter.  Now I must return the DVD to the library, transcribe the hand-recorder notations for exact quotations, and organize my notes.
For the battle has been joined, and the overriding question will be: When will WE JOIN THE FIGHT?  With this kind of resources – including MONEY – to make our films, our way?
Which has been the seven-year mission of the PhoneBooth.  

copyright 2007 Steve Finefrock





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