Rocketman Meets the Invisible Gravity Monster
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PARENTAL ADVISORY: the film includes a brief shot of a live birth
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Rocketman Meets the Invisible Gravity Monster was the fourth of the five films I was required to make during my first semester in Film School in Spring 1990. My previous film had been declared inscrutable and pretty much a disaster, so I was more than a little nervous about my fourth one. I didn’t have much of an idea about what I was going to do beyond “something with model rockets” when I wrote to the head of the nearest model rocket society. Here is the letter:
(Why’s it in negative? Beats me. But that’s probably the way I sent it.)
The part that describes the film as a love triangle between a boy, a girl and a rocket was pretty much bullshit. But I had written a script involving a boy and a rocket:
Fear of Flying had no chance of being made at that time and when I went down to film the rocket society I had no idea what I was going to do with the footage. I ended up shooting about 12 minutes of film, but less than a minute of that ended up in the film. I have little idea how I ended up with Rocketman from there. I may have been inspired by a lecture class on parallel montage; I may have been inspired by the use of moving lights for fade-like transitions in Bill N.’s third film. Wherever the idea came from, I was happy with the result. The class reaction was mostly positive and I sent their written critiques to my parents. My teachers, however, were not all that enthusiastic and I think it was when I said, while looking at the head teacher, “almost everyone got it,” that I came close to being given a failing grade for the entire semester.
For what it’s worth, here are the comments on the film by my class:
For what it’s worth, below is the page “explaining” the film, a required part of the script what I wrote when it was supposed to be my Fall project as explained here.
What did I learn?
1. For god sakes, don’t make films about Death! Death = bad, as in, “That was a bad movie, horrible!” Before you even start, you’re already on the shit list. People don’t need no stinking momento mori. (See here.)
2. Despite every other word coming out of our mouths being a metaphor of some kind, some people, perhaps most, just don’t get it. My high school art teacher had no idea: “Are you saying we don’t treat babies as well as we should?”
Postscript: the letter to the Rocket Society mentions that I had a Cineroc and a Transroc. I had had the Cineroc, which was a super 8 camera on a rocket, and the Transroc, which transmitted sound from a model rocket, since sixth or seventh grade. However, after losing one or two rockets I was afraid of losing them, so I never actually used them. I had had my mother send them out for this film, but did not use them for this, either. Eventually, they were stolen from the car where I inexplicably stored them. My room was very small, but I should have made room for them.