Some Assembly Required (2013) – By Kirsten Walsh

As a first time, independent filmmaker, there are many fears in the lifetime of the film. In Luke Bittel’s documentary chronicling his directorial debut, “Some Assmbly Required” needs to be seen by EVERY future filmmaker. It is a humorous look at everything- literally everything- that can go wrong with a film. Set in the lush scenery of Massachusetts, where Bittel calls home, “Some Assembly Required” looks vastly different from the film it centers on, “Help Wanted”, some would say in a much better way. We meet the rag tag team of filmmakers who set out on their mission to make a film to make a splash at Sundance, and very quickly realize that the film would go the way of most independent films: not very far. With the stories of constant blow ups onset, inexperience, and all sorts of money issues, the crew is cruel, but honest about the negative experiences they had onset and even before production on the film kicked off.

I applaud Bittel for being humble and honest about the ups and downs of “Help Wanted”. Many filmmakers wouldn’t even go as far as finishing their film facing many of the problems he faced. But, as he states towards the end of the documentary, “Help Wanted” “is done, and its ours”. The compilation of scenes from the film, a non-distracting soundtrack, and humorous interviews shot while the film was in production as well as after, make this documentary a humorous magnifying glass into the world of independent film.

I spoiled the film “Help Wanted” by watching “Some Assembly Required” first, but I saw everything the filmmakers discussed in the documentary. Some things that a lot of filmmakers miss while working on their first film. Of course, one of the most obvious and most important is the aspect of sound. In the film, there are some sequences where the sound just completely cuts out- there’s not even any ambient sound! But it is made easier to swallow having watched the documentary. Also, the cinematographer went into detail about his experiences while onset, and it shows in the film with dirty lenses and other not so great shots.

All together, I think the two films- the documentary “Some Assembly Required” and “Help Wanted” are excellent when screened together, and would be an excellent learning tool for many out there in the independent film land. I think if Bittel decided to go on and make a career out of making documentaries, he would be pretty darn good at it.