My Dogme95 Confession.
BY Kevin Shay
Brethren in the cinematic revolution!
It was with great heart that I unveiled to you and to the world my latest cinematic venture, The Sins of the Stepdaughters, and issued a solemn declaration that this feature film was made in accordance with the tenets of the Dogme95 Manifesto.
Inspired by the Dogme95 Vows of Chastity to shed every vestige of my former corrupt directorial habits, I shot on location (mostly at my grandmother’s house), using only natural visuals and ambient sound.
However, certain critics have questioned the extent to which I adhered to the rules of the Manifesto in making this film. Their comments fill me with remorse, and my conscience compels me to clarify certain aspects of my production, by way of confessing a number of transgressions against the Vows.
- In an early scene depicting a full-dress ball, the “catering hall” was in fact my grandmother’s dining room, and that dear old woman (grand dâme of etiquette that she is) provided matching evening wear for some 400 guests. We tried to tell her a seven-course meal was unnecessary, but Grandma has never been one to let even the lowliest extra go hungry.
- However, for the shattering of the skylight when the half-wolf villain played by Peter Gallagher “crashes” the party, we substituted breakaway glass. It’s all well and good for Werner Herzog to sacrifice a peon or two to propitiate the muses, but in these litigious United States, safety must be my watchword!
- Neve Campbell did not really swallow her own gouged-out eyeball. We encouraged her to, for cinema’s sake, but you know how actors can be: Selfish.
- Some cinemaphiles have raised an eyebrow at the presence of original music by Stone Temple Pilots, Jewel, and Babyface. Well, I could hardly believe our good fortune myself! Grandma, it so happens, has played hostess to many a star-studded after-hours jam session. And when our primitive microphones started picking up the cutting-edge sonic collaborations emanating from the rec room—wouldn’t the real sin have been not to use this “ambient noise” on the soundtrack?
- Although a body double for Melanie Griffith does appear in certain scenes of full and partial nudity, that was not done to dishonestly conceal any figure flaws but rather because of unavoidable scheduling conflicts. Ms. Griffith’s pottery classes fell on exactly those dates we had booked to shoot the bubble-bath scene, the love scene, and the getting-out-of-these-muddy-polo-clothes scene. Thankfully, Trixie happened to be there at just the right times (getting piano lessons from Grandma, of all things!), and the rest is history.
- With regard to the use of a “hand-held camera,” I can only plead ignorance. Certainly each and every grip, crane operator, clapper-loader, and focus puller, not to mention Messrs. Fujimoto and Kaminski, did indeed manipulate all the equipment by hand, but I have since been informed that something further might have been intended by this phrase. Please, Brethren, define your terms a little more carefully, so that I might adhere to this particular Vow with greater vigilance the next time out.
- Many are the fond hours I spent at Grandma’s as a youngster, darting back and forth between what I childishly called the “Blue-Screen Soundstage Attic” and the “Post-Production Breakfast Nook.” Was it wrong of me to utilize these quaint facilities to their fullest in making my little movie? I’ll answer that question with a question: Is it wrong for a kid to be a kid?
- In the climactic sequence, Richard Dreyfuss did not actually give birth (but a few weeks earlier he had passed a kidney stone, an experience he drew upon to bring a gleaming core of truth to his performance), nor did the actress portraying the Pope melt.
Together we shall strip cinema naked,
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