“A Fuckload of Scotch Tape”, shortened to “FLOST” is independent filmmaker’s Julian Grant micro-budget effort, entirely independently produced and shot mostly on weekends. Grant writes:
For twenty years I made low-budget TV movies, mini-series and straight-to-video projects that were all at the request of the distributors or network. I was a gun-for-hire for Lionsgate, HBO, Lifetime, Syfy and more – and you basically have to follow the party line and produce movies in keeping with their mandate. It’s a market driven machine and I was able to make good-looking pictures at a reasonable rate. When I became a college professor, I was determined to return to my roots as a way of showing my own students how to do it for cheap. My goal has always been to demystify the filmmaking process and with the advances in digital technology, home editing and the support of the college, I can pretty much well make anything I can afford to produce.
Well, “FLOST”, the film, is actually an adaptation of pulp-fiction crime writer Jedediah Ayres’ short stories. Namely, “Mahogany and Monogamy” and “A Fuckload of Scotch Tape”, the latter appearing in “Out of the Gutter, Issue 5″, and both being available in a collected volume “A Fuckload of Shorts”.
A musical Neo-Noir drama where a patsy is set up to take the fall for a kidnapping that leads to murder. When the money he is paid is stolen, he embarks on a rampage of revenge. Things go from bad to perverse as Benji must fight and fuck his way through father figures, hookers with no hearts, marauding men and the hopelessly lost.
All singing, all-fighting – “FLOST” is a throwback to the crime films of yesteryear mixed with the music of Kevin Quain; a mash up of film noir, musical drama and hard-hitting social injustice. Not for the faint of heart or humor, this film is a vicious valentine to the love shared by fathers and sons everywhere. Think of this as the anti-‘Glee’ or a perverse ‘Hollywood High’ musical and mix in blood, puss and urine – and you get the idea.
I’ll quote Del Harvey’s review, from FilmMonthly:
The project is true to the indie ethos in that it is spare; everything is stripped down to its essence. For lovers of pure character- and plot-driven film, this is stripped-to-the-bone storytelling at its best.
“FLOST” takes place down in the gutter, a place populated by people who are not exactly representatives of admirable humanity; their world is dark and dirty, they’re tormented by their personal hells, they’re twisted, sick and very hopeless, and there’s always someone out there to get you – it’s a world where everything and everyone it’s fucked up and death doesn’t seem like that bad of a thing. That is to say, “FLOST” is depressing as hell. I seriously wouldn’t recommend this if you’re feeling down. You really have to be in the mood for it.
With that disclaimer out of the way, “FLOST” as a film, is an achievement. It may be micro-budget, and this phrase is usually associated – at least in people’s minds’ with the word ‘amateurish’. Well, for a reason. Because most micro-budget works are. But there’s nothing amateurish about “FLOST”. Julian Grant – who wrote, directed, shot, and was the sound recorder for the film – is a man with experience, which certainly translates to the screen.
Other people have said it better than me, so I’ll be lazy and use another quote, from Zoran Samardzija:
Bursting with visual energy, it bombards its audience with music video and comic book aesthetics (in fact a graphic novel adaptation of the film is forthcoming), surveillance footage, split screens with multiple temporalities, digital mimicry of celluloid home movies, and many other styles. Most films, as with the popular “Paranormal Activity” franchise, only replicate one type of media by copying the look of home-video footage uploaded onto You Tube. The more ambitious works, like “FLOST”, blend many different conventions to arrive at an exciting new visual aesthetic for cinema.
I’ve mentioned earlier “FLOST” is also a musical. Music plays a great role in the film. The words to the songs by Quain are mouthed by the main character, Benji. They’re always relevant to what’s going on, but the unusual practice may take some getting used to. I’d dare say, it’d get annoying if it weren’t for the young Graham Jenkins’ performance.
The entire cast – including Louie Lawless, Hannah Phelps, Bobby Rafferty, Holland Noel, James Munson, Shannon Edwards, and Brian Shaw – were pretty much without reproach in regards to acting, but the greater bulk of the film is carried on Jenkins’ shoulders. With his being the character that takes up most of the screen time, and adding in the consistent narrations, and Benji might have easily turned out into a tough & gritty wannabe. Instead, Jenkins makes it work from beginning to the end. In other words, nothing of this feels forced and/or fake.
“FLOST” isn’t everyone’s fare. But it’s an incredibly well-made neo-noir considering the budget, the funds, and the filming schedule (20 days, on weekends). It shows, again, what can be made with talent and ingenuity. Recommended! And if you’re usually into this sort of films, safely add a point (or even two) to the final rating.