Mayhem Behind Movies (2012) – By Philip Smolen

Young filmmaker Kevin Knight (Nigel Moran) is in “reel” trouble. He’s been given his first chance to direct a big budget romantic comedy, but from the moment he signs the contract, things start to go wrong. First, only a few actors show up for the auditions (and those that show up are a bizarre lot). Then Kevin makes his biggest mistake; he hires sleazy Derek (Russell Carragher) to be his producer. Derek loses the all important continuity sketches for the film, and then advises Kevin about what type of actresses should be cast (Derek prefers centerfolds). The next day, Kevin’s worst nightmare comes true; Derek steals the film’s entire budget and runs off to Las Vegas! Now Kevin is stuck without a budget, a cast, drawings, sets, props or anything else needed to make a film. And he must deliver a movie to the production company by the established deadline or he’ll be ruined for life. To make matters worse, all of Kevin’s woes are being filmed by a documentary film crew!

Nigel Moran’s new movie “Mayhem Behind Movies” is an auspicious indie beginning and an astute and clever look at the realities of filmmaking. Although this is Moran’s first film, it’s clear that he’s been immersed in movies for many years because he successfully pokes fun at many of the familiar situations that indie directors often find themselves in. From casting calls that lure in every wacko who thinks they can act to trying to find someone to bankroll his feature, Moran’s view of movie making is satiric, sharp and biting.

The mockumentary starts off on a high note as Kevin directs his latest indie opus “Apocalypse Undead.” Kevin is constantly thwarted from finishing the film by his well-meaning but incompetent crew (who are friends and relatives). From there, Moran puts Kevin through his paces as he edits his work while constantly waiting for the files to upload (sound familiar?). Kevin then goes to the festival circuit where he loses to a hack filmmaker whose uncle happens to be on the review committee. But Moran saves his most devilish situations for the final third of the movie as Kevin’s dream of directing begins to collapse, often with uproarious consequences.

Moran is great as the naïve filmmaker. He has a sweet nebbish quality about him, much like a young Woody Allen. He simultaneously looks lost and bewildered while he tries to fulfill his dream. I found his performance very endearing. While some of the supporting character performances are not as strong as Moran, several members of the cast do stand out. These include Russell Carragher who’s fantastic as the vain and venial Derek and John Busow as Kevin’s bumbling but good hearted friend Dwayne.

If you ever tried to make a movie, or if you just love movies, “Mayhem Behind Movies” will have you howling at the insane situations that Kevin finds himself in. Nigel Moran has made a smart, intelligent, funny and very insightful look into the world of film. I liked this movie – a lot.

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