Burning in a lot of people who talk about, think about, and watch tons of films’ loins is the desire to make a film of their own. They picture it being the greatest story ever told complete with Oscar worthy performances, before their time special effects, and cinematography that would be praised for decades afterward. They are at the center of the magic and it is their vision all of the time. They pick out the actors from a pool of thousands, they sit behind the camera crafting every single shot composition, they write draft after draft of their screenplay until it is perfect, and they spend hours in a dark room editing it so that everything comes together so smoothly. This is the fantasy of many, including me and yet it is completely unrealistic as this film, Living in Oblivion, will tell you.
Moving fluidly through dream and reality, Nick Reve wants nothing more than to finish the shot he is working on. But no matter how hard he tries, everything seems to get in his way. Relationships come to a crumbling apex, people get sick on sour milk, the actors can’t remember their lines or they stop the scene and throw in their own inane suggestions, the boom mike always seems to be in a shot and endless other problems that mount until he cracks. Because the first two sequences are dream sequences and the last sequence is real, Nick gets to crack three times, each one more painful to watch than the last. He tears up sets, points out the flaws of his crew and cast members, punches his famous leading man, cries, and says he is going to quit each time. But instead of quitting he soldiers on and gets his shot that he needs in a totally unexpected way. That is the magic of filmmaking. Everything that can go wrong will go wrong, but when everything goes right the victory is so sweet.
This film can act as a cautionary tale about the horrors of low-budget filmmaking, but I choose to look at it as the main reason you should get into independent filmmaking. Despite all the setbacks, the restrictions, the accidents, and the sleepless nights, if your film comes out to be half as good as this one, it is totally worth it. You might not reach iconic status, or make a healthy living at it but attempting to make a film is a rush that is evident in every frame of this film. I tried not to give too much away about this film, because I believe it is an experience that everyone thinking about making a film should watch and I don’t want to spoil it for you. Happy watching.