On Tour: West Long Branch, NJ

21 Mar

February 20th, 2014  | The Exquisite Corpse Project | West Long Branch, NJ

The final stop of my On Screen/In Person tour was at Monmouth University in New Jersey. Prior to this trip, I’d only been to New Jersey twice – both times because I was poor and needed furniture and there wasn’t an Ikea in NYC yet. However, being a New Yorker, my lack of knowledge about New Jersey never stopped me from mocking it relentlessly. There are only a handful of things besides obnoxious smells that New Yorkers can collectively bond over, and badmouthing New Jersey is one of them. But, like most things that I talk trash about, my time in New Jersey was actually very pleasant. The countryside was beautiful, my bed-and-breakfast had a huge and unmonitored bowl of complimentary mints, and I was surprised by yet another incredibly creative community event.

At Monmouth University, like at Christoper Newport University just a few days earlier, I spoke to a classroom of film and theater students about their filmmaking hopes and dreams (which I tried not to crush by revealing how poor I am). Like the other classes I’d spoken to, this class had yet to see our film — however, in a stroke of particular genius, their professor (video artist Andrew Demirjian, whose work I adore) assigned his students the challenge of taking the last five pages of the script for our film, and having them write, direct, and film an additional section for our movie. In case you haven’t seen our movie, The Exquisite Corpse Project, the basic premise is that I challenged five writers to each writer 15 pages of a feature script, with the constraint that each writer was allowed to read only the previous 5 pages of the script before writing their section. Accordingly, the fact that the students had yet to see the film made the challenge perfect, because the students were put in exactly the same position as the writers of our movie – they didn’t know what else had happened previously in the film, they had no idea who these characters were, and the pages they were allowed to read made virtually no sense to them.

Here is my favorite of the three new student-made additions. It probably won’t mean much if you haven’t seen our film – but I love it!

Unfortunately, this final blog post signals the official end of my On Screen/In Person tour. I’ve had an incredible time exploring the region, meeting amazing, creative people, and getting to share our film with new audiences. This movie took us two years to edit, and during that time, I remember fantasizing about the future, and how rewarding it would be to finally get to watch our movie with an appreciative audience. This tour was the perfect actualization of that dream. Thank you for being part of our movie’s journey! We hope to be back with another movie very soon.

Ben Popik and the ECP Team

Post by OSIP touring filmmaker, Ben Popik.
To listen to a podcast interview with the filmmaker, click here.


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