Combustible Celluloid
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With: Richard Gazowsky
Written by: n/a
Directed by: Michael Jacobs
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 88
Date: 03/19/2013

Audience of One (2009)

3 Stars (out of 4)

God's Movie Ticket

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

San Francisco Pentecostal minister Richard Gazowsky received word from God that he was to make a movie. Not just any movie, but an epic science fiction, Biblical epic shot in 70mm, with a budget that eventually swells past $100 million. Documentary filmmaker Michael Jacobs documents the process, which -- to say the least -- goes slightly less well than Noah's building the ark. The new documentary -- largely shot in my neighborhood -- breaks down into two main sections. We see all the planning, and all the aliens and gizmos that Gazowsky dreams up for his movie, followed by a quick trip to Italy for five days of shooting. Although, thanks to many camera problems, those five days come down to just a couple of completed shots. Then the crew comes back to San Francisco, rents a space in the luxurious Treasure Island studios, and waits, fending off thieves and beaurocrats until more money comes in. Gazowsky is a likeable enough character, with a larger-than-life personality, but the key to this film should have been in finding a balance between passion and insanity. Even Gazowsky himself admits: "a guy says he hears the voice of God; either I'm right or I'm crazy." Unfortunately for the film, Jacobs chooses a side in the final scene, thereby negating all the mystery and anticipation. Moreover, the film feels unfinished and anticlimactic, with too many huge leaps in time and no real ending. But I'm still recommending it, mainly because of the great story it hints at and for the way it genuinely captures the excitement and heartbreak of filmmaking. Arne Johnson, also known as the director of the documentary Girls Rock! (2008) is interviewed in his capacity as editor of Film/Tape World, who has the "real" scoop on Gazowsky.

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