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Hollywood Forever

Last night I watched a fairly mediocre documentary called The Young and the Dead. It's about how Tyler Cassity, a hot young cemeterian from Missouri bought the decrepit Hollywood Cemetery at auction and transformed it.

It wouldn't be very interesting except for the scope of Cassity's vision. In the documentary he says, when a celebrity dies, there is immediately a biography ready to be shown. What if when JFK Jr. died the anchorman said, "John F. Kennedy Jr. died in a plane crash. Wake will be held on Tuesday, funeral on Friday?" People would be shocked. Yet that is exactly how we do it for our closest friends and relatives.

Part of the cememtery office is a biography studio where, before you die, they will help you produce your own documentary film of your life which will be shown at your funeral, and which will be available at kiosks around the cemetery and online.

Since the making of the documentary, they have gone on to non-death related recordings and opened new cemeteries. You can hire them to capture your child's youth, send messages for free to soldiers overseas, or boost your corporate image.

1 Comment:

  1. tracy said...
    This morning I was watching some of the life stories online. I was shocked at how boring they are, how little information they contain, how crappy is the musical accompaniement.
    One of the cemeteries' selling points for these biographical documentaries is that a person can be remembered the way he or she would want to be remembered. Yet these films are formulaic and homogenous. It's clear that none of the subjects has any real say in how their films turn out. It's an assembly-line process.
    Part of the reason I was shocked by this was because the documentary had got me thinking about how interesting people's lives are. I thought about it again listening to "This American Life" yesterday afternoon. Most people have fascinating stories, and I'd even say that most people become excellent story tellers when telling their own life stories. Considering the rise in interest in the oral history as a tool in anthropology and any study of culture, I would have expected these films to be just a bit better.
    One time when I was IMing with Anita about documentary movies, she wrote that a good documentary filmmaker can let his or her subject (when it's a person) make the film and it will be more interesting than a filmmaker who tries to make a film about another person.
    I've been thinking for the past couple months about projects to do for public access TV. Wouldn't it be fun to make documentary movies about strangers? Maybe it would be fun to spy on them for a while and try to guess some things about them before beginning. Maybe that's a bit too Sophie Calle...

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