Make A Movie Like Spike (J. Smith, 2011): USA

Reviewed by Stacie Manifold.  Viewed at the Santa Barbara Film Festival 2011.

As it’s first feature film, Little Plow Film production company, brought Make A Movie Like Spike to the Santa Barbara Film Festival.  Little Plow Films is a collaboration between Jamil Smith (writer, director, star of this film) and his partner Brittany Ballard.  Brittany has roots with the Santa Barbara Film Festival serving as Programmer for two years.  Jamil and Brittany met at the Urbanworld Film Festival in 2007 and formed this company to pursue development of independent projects.

Jamil Smith has been acting in television series since 1994 with his first role being Ernie on the Sinbad show.  He expanded into writing and directing in 2007 with his short film called The Son.  Currently he is a regular on the SyFy series Stargate Universe and is developing a new screenplay called The Pyn.

Make A Movie Like Spike is a documentary style film about 2 friends enlisted in the Marine Corp about to ship off to Afgahnistan.  They decided to film their last 36 hours before departing.  Luis (played by Jamil Smith) is an aspiring film-maker and idolozes Spike Lee’s movie filming style and shoots this movie with a hand-held video camera.  He plans to take this video oversees with him to remember all the best times of his life before going to war.  He captures special moments with his grandma, playful self-interviews and escapades with his buddy Ronald (Malcolm Goodwin) in Cancun.

Many parts of this movie worked great and others did not.  I liked that the title of the film was not shown on screen until about 10 minutes into the action.  This really allowed the audience to be drawn into the story.  I also like the use of the hand held video camera when shooting scenes from Luis’ point of view.  This kept the film feeling like a real documentary.  On the flip side, the characters felt like they were slightly over-acting and it seemed scripted.

The most interesting point of the movie was the audience reaction to the end.  The entire theatre was filled, but when the movie ended and the credits were rolling, no one moved or clapped until the entire thing was over and the lights came up.  I was left feeling like there had not been closure and was still waiting for more information or the movie to resume somehow.  I wonder if my fellow audience members were feeling the same way?


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