On the Lot: Top 18 finalists

The assignment for this episode was to direct a one-minute comedy, which many of the contestants (unfortunately) took to mean fart, pee and/or vomit jokes. After the third or fourth one of these, I wanted to pull the offending directors aside and ask them if Dreamworks is about to give $1 million to someone who can’t come up with something more creative. The judges were amazingly nice; Carrie Fisher in particular tried to find something encouraging each time, whereas Simon Cowell would’ve just said, “What the hell was that?

My three top favorites:

Zach Lipovsky – Not only was Danger Zone, a 360-degree single take, the most technically challenging, it was also very original and one of the episode’s funniest films.

Will Bigham – Lucky Penny was another example of Bigham’s talent for storytelling. Well-made, well-told and hilarious.

Adam Stein – Dance Man had good acting and an original concept. Plus, anything with dance gets extra points from me.

The three directors who should get kicked off:

Kenny Luby – Wack Alley Cab is proof that fast cuts and camera tricks can’t make up for the lack of a story. The film was incoherent and unfunny, and Luby continues to display an ego way out of proportion to his skills or talent.

Hilary Graham – Bus #1 is proof that real-world experience doesn’t necessarily help you tell a story. In this case, Graham forgot that grown-ups (as opposed to three-year-olds) will not say, “I really have to pee” in public if they can help it, and they definitely won’t do what the lead in this film does.

Jess Brillhart – On the other hand, some more real-world experience might have helped Brillhart with To Screw in a Light Bulb. This was as confusing as Luby’s film, and less inventive, since it was all done in one room.

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