February 8, 2011

A few weeks ago Wayne, a frequent commentor and friend of this blog, sent me an email. Some of you may recall that Wayne made a huge career change a few months ago when he went insane and quit his day job to start film school in Ireland.

His email was about making his first film there. I found it so open and informative I decided to reprint it here.

On January 15 Wayne wrote:

I finally got around to making my film just before the holidays, we edit it in the coming months. It's only a five minute short but let's just say I have a new-found appreciation of the time and effort that filmmakers go through. Actually, last night I had something of a revelation when watching your film Living in Oblivion. I had one of my regular movie nights and I invited some friends over, three of them hadn't seen Oblivion and they thoroughly enjoyed it, leading to their wanting to watch more DiCillo movies.

Living In Oblivion

Anyway, it was the first time I had watched Oblivion since my own filmmaking experience and I was blown away. I have always held your film in the highest of regard, but now I have an even higher appreciation for it; it was like reliving the horror of being on the set making my film and both the dread of endless re-takes and also the humour derived after the descent into madness after a long day of shooting. So, a film I have seen countless times took on a whole new meaning for me.

I wrote this back to him: 

Welcome to filmmaking, Wayne. How do you feel your film turned out? Were you able to enjoy yourself?

Wayne replied:

Would you believe, I had a pretty miserable time getting the film made; another reason I think Nick Reve's journey resonated with me the other night. Because my script and storyboards were picked by the lecturer to be the film we would shoot out of the whole class, there was a lot of resentment towards me because I had to assume the role of director/producer, or in my classmates' minds: dictator. 

There was a lot of apathy surrounding the roles assigned to my class (props, lighting, grip, etc) so I ended doing a lot of it myself, thank god I had an enthusiastic director of photography, but even there we were going mostly on shots I designed. At one point in pre-production nobody had any prep work done and I lost it, teetering on the edge of Nick's outburst at the end of the first act in LIO.

I gotta admit, I was on the edge of tears through pure frustration; people in my class now hated me, and still do I think. 

They told me not to be so serious, "it's only for a laugh", but I felt that since it was my vision and I would be graded on it that I wanted to make a decent piece of work. I hope the tension and apathy doesn't bleed into the film, I hope when I cut it it will come together. The tension in the class has never been the same since. I now know that film is also a competitive world, even in the confines of a film school.

Nick Reve is now my all time hero! Maybe when I edit the film and can burn a copy I could post it to you, haha if nothing else it will be a fine beer coaster.

I respect and greatly appreciate your honesty, Wayne. Listen, you survived. Just keep going. It is all you can do.

If Nick Reve (Steve Buscemi) is your hero imagine what he is for me. Against my better judgment, and with a million other things I should be doing, I was inspired by your letter to go through the first half hour of Living In Oblivion and pull still frames from the film. They are all in strict chronological order. I can only view Buscemi's descent into madness with awe, horror, admiration and utter fucking glee. The man is a genius. Watch him.

nick-happy.jpg nick-hopeful.jpg 
nick-very-hopeful.jpg nick-determined.jpg 
 bw-cu-nick-and-wanda-intense.jpg bw-nick-hoping.jpg
nick-beeping-sound.jpg bw-nick-agony.jpg 



Hi Tom,
Thanks for this post. As you know, I have been a fan of Living in Oblivion since it was released. Steve Buscemi is a genius indeed. So are you. It’s funny, yesterday I was on a shooting in Paris. It was in a jazz club. There was a smoke machine. So I laughed my head off thinking of L.I.O when the smoke machine, at some point, broke down. And before that, all the smoke that was blown over my head and legs. I said : “It’s like in Living in Oblivion! You have to watch this movie! It’s a diamond!”
Before finding Tom’s blog I had little idea of all the annoyances and difficulties involved in making a film. Congratulations Wayne for overcoming them. Thanks Tom for highlighting and sharing Wayne’s achievement with us, and to both of you for this very interesting, informative and honest blog entry.
Wayne Byrne
Hey Tom and all,
Thank you so much for the words of encouragement. I fell in love with film when I was four years old in 1987, I have written professionally about film for the last two years but only now am I finally experiencing the trials and tribulations of actually putting together a film, albeit on a very small scale; it is a challenge but when you look at footage from those hours of labour it is extremely gratifying, to think that what is on that big screen came from a simple idea in your head.
All the regulars to this blog will know what Tom’s films mean to me, they (Johnny Suede in particular) turned me from a film buff brought up on Stallone and Schwarzenegger to a cineaste and aspiring film academic, they opened up tp me a world of cinema with alternative artistic visions and aesthetics that I was unfamiliar with, so Tom’s words of encouragement and interest in my endeavours are a constant source of inspiration. I can’t thank him enough.
The wonderful Steve Buscemi’s expressions in the above caps are pretty much how I was feeling inside at the time, all I was short of doing was calling someone out as “a Hostess Twinkie motherfucker”…oh how I was tempted! Living in Oblivion is a film that keeps giving, I loved it before I attempted to make a film, I love it even more now.
I would love to eventually post my short for you guys when it is completed, I am now entering the rough cut and editing phase, then sound mix, etc, so I hope to get it out there sometime, it may take a couple of months but hopefully it will be worth it, at this stage it is looking like it could be anywhere from two minutes to five minutes in length 🙂
If I had never made it to film school or even as a critic, I would still be extremely thankful that we have filmmakers like Tom making movies worth watching and owning and re-watching.
Thank you all,
Tom and Wane, thanks for sharing. I find the movie making process(s) fascinating. Particularly small independent creative films. What an alternative to General Electric! Mario (Genes from Ennistymon)
Good luck at the Grammy’s.
Hey Tom,
I love this post, and the sequence of Buscemi LIO stills is incredible in itself. One of your interviews mentioned that you believe the creation of any form of art is a miracle, so I’m adding that quote as evidence to the Buscemi slow-slide-into-madness montage you’ve put together here. Thanks for taking the time to do it. That primal scream in LIO has always had the ability to make me feel better even after the worst of days.
Wayne, I admire your courage and dedication to shift careers and do this. Stick to your own vision and don’t let the classmates get you down. While filmmaking is a collaborative art, at the end of the day (and at 2 a.m. when you may be awake questioning things) – it’s all about whether you’re happy with the effort you’ve put forth. And if there is a way to post your 5-min short online I would love to see it!
Rai Mechem
Makes me want to leave work right now, go home & watch LIO. Good luck, Wayne! I think many of us would love to see your final product. Buscemi is a wonder, Tom, isn’t he? Who would think this man could be a romantic lead as he is now in Boardwalk Empire. So glad he’s getting recognition now, but DiCillo fans have always seen his brilliance.

Leave a replyReply to


Independent Filmmaker & Musician