I'm Thelma, you're Louise
Two young women in wigs reciting dialogue from "Thelma and Louise" hurry into a cardboard car, laughing loudly and artificially; a half-bald young man with a black strip glued to his head, resembling "Taxi Driver" hero Travis Bickle's haircut, enters the stairwell and opens fire; a bird slams into the forehead of a young blonde whose hairdo resembles Tippi Hedren's in "The Birds."
These are just three examples of the hundreds of online video clips, mainly on YouTube, where non-professionals try to recreate key scenes or trailers from their favorite films. The amazing special effects and the glamorous international stars of the well-financed Hollywood films are replaced by improvised props, everyday clothes and amateur actors. The filming is usually sloppy, the editing amateur, and many scenes are missing, but key lines remain, as do characters' prominent features - which are even highlighted - and the important or most memorable scenes are recreated and filmed anew.
As occasionally happens with amateur creations, the results are generally strange, embarrassing or just plain boring, but sometimes, with the proper amount of creative thinking and wild imagination, they rise above the tough production conditions and turn into an original and entertaining work.
This phenomenon, known as sweding, has been thriving on the net since the film "Be Kind Rewind," written and directed by Michel Gondry. One protagonist works in the neighborhood video store, and his loser of a friend manages to erase all the movie tapes. The two set off to remake, by themselves, some of the films that were erased, in order to appease the irate customers. With their homemade accessories, improvised props, primitive effects and untrained actors (themselves), the two recreate key scenes from "Ghostbusters" and give the results to customers, who are enthusiastic and come back for more. The term "sweding" comes from one of the protagonist's explanations that the films are so expensive to rent and so slow to arrive because they are being imported from Sweden.
This Friday, local fans of sweding, with or without experience, can take part in a local spin on the trend. "Oh no! I discovered that the DVD of 'Operation Grandma' (Mivtza Savta) that I bought at the Central Bus Station is actually 'Charlie and a Half' ... but I don't have money to buy another DVD. So instead of asking you to give me money, just give me a little talent," wrote Omer Gertel of the blog http://shuk.li last week, where the first large-scale Israeli sweding effort was announced.
Gertel and friends invite would-be participants to come to Tel Aviv's Reading parking lot at 8 A.M. on Friday, in order to help remake Dror Shaul's film "Operation Grandma."
"Sweding has been going strong online, mainly on YouTube, for a while, but there is still no Israeli representation," says Michael Shynar, who is also behind Shuk-Li. "We thought it would be nice if we did not do it with only five people, but in an unlimited forum. We expect several groups to show up, each with a few people and a camera. They will film the scenes impromptu, and at the end we will pick the best scenes and compile them into a film."
Shynar, 26, says Shuk-Li was formed eight months ago to "create unconventional situations within the routine of city life," and has organized 10 events so far. These included holding improvised boxing competitions at Tel Aviv traffic lights with particularly long wait times, and having 100 people freeze in motion in front of the Carmel Market for five minutes. Afterward, the participants continued on their way as if nothing had happened.
Shynar says the group chose "Operation Grandma" because the original work is a cult film - and because they could call the project "Operation 'Operation Grandma.'"
Anyone who can make the day of filming is invited to bring vital accessories listed on the organizers' Web site and Facebook page. The list includes, among other things, cardboard, magic markers, glue, cartons, a grandmother, crembos, a bulldozer, a mustache, tangerines and a coffin.