Birdemic: Shock and Terror is often referred to as the Citizen Kane for bad movies and has become a cult hit because of the level of so bad-good-good it reached. Films like Citizen Kane, The Godfather, and Pulp Fiction are studied in film schools because these films are considered masterpieces of filmmaking.
In this article, however, we will focus on Birdemic: Shock and Terror and examine what not to do for aspiring filmmakers who are tired of waiting for Hollywood to knock on their doors.
Simply put, you can't make a great movie out of a terrible script. You can have all the resources in the world to get your high budget action or indie rom com up and running. However, if your script is in terrible shape, your film is doomed from the start. Birdemic's biggest problem is the script. Make sure your script is checked by professionals or a friend who understands scripts. A group of authors is also very helpful. Avoid family and friends.
Back to Birdemic: Rod is an extremely boring character. Since the film only starts after 47 minutes, there are no clear ambitions for the protagonist. Every scene drags on because there are no stakes.
Characters need growth, whether external or internal. Your main protagonist needs a desire in every scene and there has to be an obstacle in their path to give your protagonist a certain dimension. It is the face of adversity that reveals a person's true character.
At the beginning of the Birdemic, we don't care about Rod as he's essentially a perfect character. Rod has no difficulties in the first 47 minutes that add dimension to his character. Rod remains exactly who he was when the film began. Sure, he's a millionaire with a hot girl by his side at the end of Birdemic, but he still remains the boring salesman at heart.
The same goes for the supporting characters. Since Rod has no internal goals, the supporting players cannot help Rod grow as a person because he has nothing to try to overcome.
Another problem with the script is the lack of focus. There's nothing wrong with writer / director James Nguyen trying to make a romantic thriller here. Films like Rebecca by Alfred Hitchcock or Allied by Robert Zemeckis deal with the topic of love and challenge the characters in the midst of their dire situations. Birdemic doesn't. In fact, Birdemic feels like two films. One that focuses on the romantic aspect of Rod and Nathalie first and then the Birdemic.
If you want to mix two genres together, make sure the focus is from start to finish. Since the two genres never come together in Birdemic, the entire movie feels disjointed and audiences are more confused by the story due to the abrupt shift past the 47-minute mark.
Another worrying aspect of Birdemic is of course the dialogue. It's filled with a lot of small talk (for example, the waiter and Rod at the beginning) and there's no subtlety in its jumbled message, also known as dialogue on the nose. Avoid characters saying the obvious or exactly what they think.
On the production side, the film is a gigantic mess. I could take the terrible audio and sound design apart. Or the flat cinematography that doesn't really help the overall feel of the film. Let's not
Forget the general direction of Birdemic. For example, the decision to take a medium close-up of Rod and Nathalie talking outside the restaurant is confusing, along with the middle shot of Rod staring at Nathalie and Michael Myers walking.
Ultimately, I'm dealing with the production and the costly mistake Nyugen made here. Birdemic was made on a budget of $ 10,000. Here's the thing, it's not impossible to create a good function for that amount of money. El Mariachi by Robert Rodriguez was made for $ 7,000. Christopher Nolan's following was created for $ 6,000 and Paranormal Activity for $ 15,000. The difference between these films was that these directors understood the limits of their films.
From the terrible CGI birds (and all effects in general) to the places clearly filmed in Gorilla (for example the gas station and the beach), you know your limits. The scene where Rod, Nathalie, and the other supporting characters go to The Beach is bad for a number of reasons (seriously, who goes to The Beach during a Birdem?), But it's clear that this isn't a closed one given the people's background Set was having fun on the beach during a bird attack. Moments like this take away the entire Birdemic movie.
I know you really want to film this cool 15-car bunch on the freeway that ends in an explosion, but get it out of your script entirely. If you just can't get these types of scenes out of your script, switch to a different script that allows you to film on a budget. Try to make a movie with a small number of cast members and a maximum of one or two locations.
When you talk about cast, you make sure you are finding the right actors for your film. Of course, Michael B. Jordan or Scarlett Johansson won't try to audition for your roles, but there are still plenty of talented actors out there who can get your characters out.
While Alan Bagh and Whitney Moore fought an uphill battle over Birdemic, they failed to get their characters to appear on screen. Again, a lot has to do with how they were written, but a wooden show can stall any movie, no matter how great the script is.
Make sure you do an audition. Get a good vibe from the actor auditioning for your role. Were you late or on time? Is he / she taking the direction well? What is your general mood like when you audition?
An audition gives you some insight into the type of person you will deal with while filming. If an actor is great but gives too many red flags (they were late to audition and the direction wasn't too friendly), don't hire them. If you do this, it can backfire badly and put more strain on your movie set.
All in all, films like Birdemic and The Room are vital in the film world as well. Aspiring filmmakers can learn and grow from the mistakes of such films. Who knows, maybe one day your film may be part of Pulp Fiction and The Godfather.
About Jeffrey Bowie Jr.
I've been writing scripts for my films that lean into the weird and darker side of the world (similar to David Lynch or Quentin Tarantino) for almost ten years, so I mostly write dark comedies, thrillers, action, sci-fi, and horror. Filmmaking for me is an art and an escape.