March 25, 2015

A few months ago I found one of my student films,   GOD SAVE THE KING.

GOD SAVE THE KING was my first sync sound film when I was in NYU film school. Back in 1977 student films were shot on real film and the move from silent to sound was considered a huge step. The original 16 mm print was recently discovered in a box under a bed in the basement of a juvenile correctional institution near Miami.

I wrote and directed the film in my 2nd year at NYU. It was loosely based on an incident that had happened to me one steamy August night a few months earlier. The punk movement was in full spasm. For some performance photos needed for the film we went to CBGB's one afternoon and they let me shoot Joe and Jay on the stage for 20 minutes.

Joe chokes Jay mouth openJay chokes Joe with guitar

After graduation I decided for some reason to scrape some money together and re-edit the film. I added titles, did a sound mix and made something that was almost unheard of for an ex NYU student with no job--a real 16mm print.

Eight years later when I submitted my first screenplay Johnny Suede to the National Endowment for the Arts, I sent the print of God Save The King as an example of my work. They gave me $25,000.

A year later I submitted the Johnny Suede screenplay to the Sundance Director's Lab. Once again, I sent this only print of God Save The King as a directing sample. I got accepted.

In some ways you could say this little film started my career.

Rai Mechem
Awesome, Tom. I recently unearthed my wedding video on 16 mm from that same era. I think it was found at MCI Cedar Junction where an inmate kindly converted it to a DVD for me. Can’t say it launched my career, but I’m very happy yours did. Sorry to be absent from your blog but glad to see you (and Elaine) are still here.
Kind regards,
Hey Rai,
Great to hear from you. What is MCI Cedar Junction? I’m impressed you had the idea to shoot your wedding video on 16mm. Yeah, I’m still here and Elaine checks in from time to time.
Rai Mechem
Hi Tom,
MCI Cedar Junction is the Massachusetts Correctional Institute (nice way of saying prison) in Walpole, MA.
And it was my cousin Joey’s idea to shoot my wedding on 16mm and nice of him to give us the film, despite the fact that we had no way to view it. But alas, years later the technology allowed conversion.
Funniest part of the video was seeing my now hair-deprived husband with shoulder-length hair (you know how I appreciate a good head of hair) and a cigarette in his hand in our receiving line.
Times have changed.
Cool flick! Interesting to see the aura of the 1970s in this piece along with the sounds 🙂

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Independent Filmmaker & Musician