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By James Teitelbaum | September 5, 2009

Things underground filmmakers should direct their actors not to do:

a) Wipe their noses during dialogue scenes.
b) Chew gum without keeping their mouths shut.
c) Say “like” a lot.
d) Wear t-shirts with distracting slogans on them.
e) Mumble key pieces of information.
f) Change their hairstyle, makeup, and clothes between two scenes that appear directly after each other, and to such a radical degree that you can’t be recognized.

Things underground filmmakers should not do:

a) Hire their non-actor friends as the entire cast.
b) Zoom in suddenly on actors who aren’t either speaking or reacting during dialogue scenes.
c) Zoom in suddenly on actors at all.
d) Make a movie free of ideas, and then advertise it as movies full of deep ideas.
e) Let actors ramble on and on without saying anything useful, and then keep it in the movie.
f) Create split-screen montages that do not advance either character or story…and then do it again one scene later.
g) Include dozens of shots of people listening to conversations they aren’t participating in, as the camera ignores the actors who are speaking.
h) Fail to buy a tripod. They are like $30, people.
i) Put miles of tiny, 4-point text on the back of the DVD case and then have characters in your film complain about having to use small point sizes in a design project.
j) Make a movie purportedly about activism and then fail to express a point of view about anything at all – except for one scene near the end that is cut so confusingly as to make it incoherent. (Hint: we can’t hear what the actors are thinking, you have to tell us).
k) Star in your own film, unless your name is Woody Allen, and it is the 1970s.
l) Fail to tell us any of the character’s names, except for one who goes by multiple nicknames.

In this largely improvised film (apparently, and tragically), P.J. (Richard Paro) is a novelist who is trying to get his cumbersomely-titled book produced on stage. This tedious film presents fly-on-the-wall footage of some of the people involved with this process as they go about their lives. Meanwhile, she of the many names -Isabelle, or Izzy, or Bel (Cyra K. Polizzi) – is new in town and is looking for an apartment. Some other people have some sorts of problems or want something. A bunch of couples end up happy, but the couple who watched this film was not among them.

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