In Memory of Carrie Fisher and Those We’ve Lost in 2016

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4749584 By Jason Godbey, Creative Director, Behind the Rabbit Productions

I had the privilege of sitting in the front row of Carrie Fisher’s Broadway show, Wishful Drinking. At the top of the show, she came out and put confetti on the heads of the people in the front row. When she got to me, she noticed I was wearing a hat. She looked at me as if to say, “are you going to take that thing off?” so I did, and she put glittering confetti on my head. I then put the hat back on. It was like a comedy baptism. I’d just done a bit with Carrie Fisher: a shared moment with one of the funniest, most talented women I’d ever seen. For myself and so many others of my generation, she was royalty. She will always be our princess.

When people like Carrie Fisher and her mother, Debbie Reynolds, leave us, it’s as if a light has gone out, and the world becomes that much darker. These people shaped our memories. We can remember where we were when we saw Star Wars for the first time. We remember who we were with when we saw Singin’ in the Rain.

In 2016 the world lost many of its iconic artists. There are too many to mention. They are gone, their voices silenced, and it is tragic to think that they will never again create new work for us to experience. It seems like the world is so dark that we can’t see the lights that are still here and the light within us.

We feel the loss of these artists because we feel a connection to them. Their work is a part of our lives. The things we love: music, art, films, television shows, and the artists who make them are a part of what makes us who we are. So when they die, we feel as if we’ve lost a part of ourselves.

Hopefully the people the world has lost this year have inspired the next generation of artists, the icons of the future who will light the way for years to come. It is our job to nurture and support them and to embrace the art within ourselves. As Carrie Fisher once said, “I don’t want my life to imitate art, I want my life to be art.”

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BTRP Recommends-Clerks

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4749584 by Jason Godbey, Creative Director of Behind the Rabbit Productions

A decade before the digital revolution, there was a renaissance in American independent film that gave rise to a generation of filmmakers like Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez, Edward Burns, and Richard Linklater.

Kevin Smith wrote and directed four feature films in the 90s: Clerks, Mallrats, Chasing Amy, and Dogma. His first feature, Clerks, epitomized the ideals of independent filmmaking. It was edgy, smart, and irreverent, and just as shocking as it was funny.

Clerks is a black and white, dialogue-driven comedy about two twenty-somethings working at the Quick Stop convenience and RST Video stores in New Jersey. Some critics have called it “raw,” some would even say raunchy, but that irreverence was part of the appeal. There was really nothing like it at the time, and it struck a chord with Generation Xers who were trying to figure themselves out.

The story of the making of Clerks is legendary, an inspiration to filmmakers everywhere. At the age of 24, Smith was able to make a 16mm feature film on a micro-budget of $27,000 He maxed out credit cards and scammed discounts wherever he could. With the help of producer, Scott Mosier, he assembled a cast and crew of family and friends and completed production in just 21 days.

Smith was inspired by Richard Linklater’s Slacker and by other independent films he saw at the Angelika Film Center in New York City. After reading an interview with Robert Rodriguez and learning about resource filmmaking, he decided to make his first feature.

The movie relies heavily on Smith’s funny and filthy dialogue and characters who seem to have no filter. Smith allows the scenes to play out in long takes where the pace of the scene is dictated by the acting and not the editing. Howard Hawks used similar technique in movies like His Girl Friday.

Clerks and its contemporaries inspired young filmmakers like me who wanted to make movies but didn’t know how we’d ever be able. We saw it and said, “If that guy can do it, so can I.” Clerks is a testament to what a filmmaker can do if he’s creative enough to overcome his limitations and daring enough to try.