Dear the internet,
I have a question. Are there any movies where the story is told in the form of an assortment of authentic-looking video/TV clips – anything from news footage to YouTube videos – which initially appear to be unrelated, but then after a while odd coincidences between them start to emerge, until a common thread appears?
The reason I ask is that last night, I had a dream that I was watching one. Realistically, I’d be surprised if I’d managed to invent a whole new cinematic form in my sleep, so I’m curious to know where I subconsciously nicked the idea from.
My colleague Dave suggested Traffic (which I’ve not seen, but probably should), which satisfies the “seemingly unconnected stories which gradually assemble into an overall plot line” aspect of it, but misses out the crucial ingredient of being composed of primary footage, to give it that Orson Welles War Of The Worlds-broadcast-meets-alternate reality gaming kind of immersive atmosphere. In the dream, I was watching the film on DVD with a friend:
[dull-looking news report about the opening of an art gallery comes on. General crowds and stuff in the background]
Me [not really paying attention]: So what about that DVD we were watching?
Him: This is part of it. The whole film was made by 20 different directors, doing one segment each.
Me: Ooh. [pause] Um, would it be really annoying if I asked to rewind to the start of this bit? I wasn’t really paying attention.
Him: Yes, it would. Just watch.
[tantalising gap of 10-20 seconds, while I get the uneasy feeling that something weird is about to happen, without having any idea what, or when. See? That's proper dramatic tension, that, and nothing's even happened yet. This must be a good film]
[sinister man comes into shot while news reporter merrily yammers away. Man throws metallic ball at floor. Loud explosion. Camera shakes violently, to scenes of general panic. Slowly, people compose themselves, and see that it wasn't a bomb, but instead hundreds of butterflies have been released into the air. Shaken-but-relieved reporter tries to continue with story. Cut to something entirely different]
(later, we would learn that the butterflies were the vector in a bio-terrorism attack. This isn’t really important, because my dreams are full of bizarre crap at the best of times… the point is the structure of the movie, not the content. But all the same, if I saw a butterfly in my room right now, I would be s**t scared.)
Of course, the problem now is, if it turns out that I have actually come up with a totally original concept after all, the only way I can exploit the idea is to knuckle down and write an entire movie script. Darn.