R2PC (Road To Park City)

R2PC (Road To Park City) (1999)
Vanguard Films
Cast: John Viener

’R2PC’ is not a robot from ’Star Wars’ who will only make politically correct comments. (Although, that would be funny.) Rather ’R2PC: Road to Park City’ is a documentary-spoof in which an aspiring filmmaker, John Viener, hopes to make a movie and take it to the Sundance Film Festival. The problem is that John, despite the fact that he’s been a production assistant, knows absolutely nothing about making movies. So, we follow John as he goes around New York and tries to learn how to make a movie. Of course, he only ends up scaring most of the people that he meets, as he announces that he’s going to Sundance, but he doesn’t have a script or a crew yet. As John struggles to comprehend filmmaking (he seems to be obsessed with hair being in the film gate), the audience is treated to a crash-course in low-budget filmmaking, as we learn about the craft and why it is so hard to get a film made.

’R2PC’ was written and directed by Bret Stern, author of the book ’How to Shoot a Feature Film for Under $10,000 (And Not go to Jail)’. Having made one previous low-budget film, 1988’s ’Dark Tides’, Stern puts all of his knowledge of filmmaking into ’R2PC’, but plays it most for comedic effect. Clearly, the main joke here is that seemingly every young filmmaker today wants to go to Sundance and be ’discovered’. The other joke is that people who occasionally watch ’Entertainment Tonight’ know more about filmmaking than John. Much of ’R2PC’ is very funny, as we watch John stumble from situation to situation, and the film is very educational. (Actually, the best joke deals with an overzealous Steadi-Cam operator.) But, at times, it’s hard to decide how seriously to take the movie. While John meets some famous people (auteur Syd Field, a name known to every film school student) and visits established entities such as SAG and the DGA, his utter stupidity makes some of ’R2PC’ hard to swallow. (Speaking of which, the segment on how to feed a film crew for pennies a day is funny). Overall, ’R2PC’ is short and sweet, and fans of independent film, or even those who find independent film pretentious, should find it entertaining.

’R2PC: Road to Park City’ arrives on DVD from Vanguard Cinema. The film is presented in a full-frame format. The image is sharp, but there is a noticeable amount of grain. It’s hard to discern if this was an artistic decision on the part of the director, or if it’s the result of the transfer. Presumably, the film was shot on 16mm, so some grain is to be expected. There is never any distortion or artifacting, and the colors, while slightly washed-out at times, are realistic. The audio on ’R2PC’ is a digital mono, which provides clear and audible dialogue, but no surround elements. Despite the fact that the DVD box reads ’DVD Video Extras’, there are no special features on the DVD. Also, it should be noted that the running time of 83 minutes listed on the packaging is incorrect.