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The Movie Hole

"The Pilgrim" - My Student Film (2006)

JJ Mortimer

Yes, that's a stolen silhouette image from "Vampire Hunter D". 

Yes, that's a stolen silhouette image from "Vampire Hunter D". 

This is a blast from the past, and a moment in my life that I'm very proud of.  I know my "dream" of a film career never took off, but I'm still very pleased with having walked away from film school nearly a decade ago with a fun little fantasy film to show off.

A little back-story for this short film, titled "The Pilgrim":

A few people close to me over the years have known that one of my passions has been to publish a novel for at least one of my two stories that have been floating around in my head.  One is a supernatural detective story with realistic consequences, and the second is "The Pilgrim."  While the short film shown here is significantly different from many of the ideas that I have for a novel version, the basic concept is the same - a wanderer, seemingly without purpose but to avenge those who have fallen close to him, travels a timeless fantasy world Yojimbo-style (with his devoutly-faithful companion in tow) from town to town quietly in search for answers while remaining a myth and legend to those he meets. 

Both stories, to some degree, focus on a single character arc, with a few supporting figures to help the character along the way.  I also had this ambitious thought of somehow connecting both stories together Stephen King style, even though the detective story takes place in our world in the 1980s, while "The Pilgrim" would take place in what would appear to be a fantasy world, that may or may not be post-apocalyptic OR some form of the afterlife.  I won't go into much more detail than that, only due to the fact that thinking about it is making me want to sit down and start writing again.

The only problem I've had, and that reading Stephen King's book "On Writing" has remedied a bit, is that I'm my own worst critic - what I've read is the main attack against any writer's progress toward completion.  At least four different times since early 2008 I've started writing a novel version of "The Pilgrim", only to re-read it days later and be completely disgusted with it, throwing out approximately 30-50 pages of work each time.  But, I did do one smart thing. 

I kept all my notes.

So, where is all of this babble leading?  Well, the older I get the more settled I become on the idea of keeping my ideas simple.  Stephen King's "Dark Tower" series and the Japanese anime Vampire Hunter D have been my biggest influences, but I have just come to the conclusion that I will not truly create anything NEW - I can just create something of my own on top of the platform that other artists have created.  This has been the way of writers for generations, and I just took nearly a decade to understand and accept this concept.  Not everyone is going to be a Quentin Tarantino-level writer, and even HE was greatly influenced by other writers and film makers.  But what I intend to do is take my ideas and make them smaller, much like "The Gunslinger" or "The Hobbit" before their respective authors delved into the epic grandeur that are "The Dark Tower" series and "The Lord of the Rings".

And it all started with a simple little student film, written in a week, shot in three-and-a-half days, and edited together in what felt like half a year (I did all the film and sound editing myself, a task I implore any budding student film maker to do at least once so you learn the marvel of delegating authority). 

I must give special thanks to Lee Joyner and his crew at Cinema Makeup School who were able to bring to life my "Warcraft"-inspired orcs, to actor Frankie Ray (who you can see these days on many commercials, most notably this one) and all the actors and crew who worked essentially on a food-only budget, and to my dad who played two roles in the film, and got to die in both of them (which has got to be some kind of a dream job for the majority of actors who work in Hollywood).

This is still one of the most disgusting things I've ever had to do.  But it was totally worth it.

This is still one of the most disgusting things I've ever had to do.  But it was totally worth it.

Without further ado, here is "The Pilgrim", broken up into three parts (because I used a free program that wouldn't allow me to burn the entire film into one file without charging me money, AND screw that).