This is a movie about dreams and reality, corruption and idealism.
It's about Hollywood. The year is 1977 - the year of "Star Wars" and "Close Encounters", the rebirth of movie imagination and technical wizardry.
And our story is about one of those special effects wizards ...an eccentric filmmaker, hidden off on a Hollywood hillside, who is about to get the chance of a lifetime.
Discovered through a pirated videotape, MIKE JITTLOV is summoned to a major film studio by director Lucky Straeker (STEVE BRODIE) and sleazy producer Harvey Bookman (RICHARD KAYE). They're making a TV spectacular all about special effects and want Mike to create "a whirlwind tour de force" sequence that just might be used in the show.
Because Mike is unknown and non-union, he can't be officially hired. But if his work is good enough, it could be bought as "stock footage" and be seen on their nationwide show.
It is an incredible opportunity, a filmmaker's dream.
It is also a Herculean challenge, since the show's airdate is just a few weeks away. Mike contacts his friends, Brian Lucas (DAVID CONRAD) and Steve Shostakovich (JOHN MASSARI), who decide to pool their ingenuity and savings to create a sensational effects showcase of stop-motion, speed-motion, animation, rotoscoping, and every other form of special effect.
Mike is elected to act as a magical wizard who brings an entire film studio to life, with marching tripods, dancing cameras and flying filmcans - and who then leaves Hollywood at super-speed, racing around the world to perform a marathon of effects miracles.
In true Hollywood tradition, most of this will be accomplished in Mike's garage.
As the adventure builds, a love interest also evolves between Mike and Cindy Light (PAIGE MOORE) - an aspiring actress who met him at the studio, and who chooses to help him at the risk of losing her own job on the show.
The small crew struggles to film through windstorms, lightning storms, insane bureaucracy, throngs of tourists, and a totally unexpected sabotage of their work by the TV special's crooked producer...
Quite possibly one of the rarest movie gems you'll ever find - 'The Wizard of Speed and Time' is a micro-budget special effects tour de force about, you guessed it, making a micro-budget special effects tour de force.
I beg you to see this film, to get hold of it any way you can (it's damned hard, I tell you).
I paid £20 for it on eBay - and worth every damn penny!) - if you're a fan of films as a whole, it will urge to grab a camera and go and make movie magic and repeat viewings do not dull the experience - many, many in-jokes, secret messages, one-frame-gags, this is a film that demands to be put on DVD so it can be seen frame-by-frame.
Written, directed, special effects by and starring Mike Jittlov, a man who should be considered a genius but is more likely simply dubbed 'eccentric'.
The great, nay, wonderful thing about this film is the sheer energy, fun and passion that so obviously was present in the making transferring effortlessly to the audience.
First seeing this on video when I was 12, I knew I wanted to be a filmmaker - 'Wizard' gave me the hope and belief that no matter what, I would make it (hey, I live in England, and I'm still struggling to make it).
This is a film about hope, about following your dreams and seeing them come to light (a great 80's theme if ever there was one -Ed). And also has a great big dig at the industry as a whole.
And the special effects? Stop motion? Optical effects? Old hat, I hear you shout. Well, two fingers to you, because for a film chock full of old practices this hasn't dated a jot.Mike Jittlov - We salute you - and I mourn the fact that you never seemed to make it big...Notice any mistakes? Review
Energy, passion, still great special effects, incredibly subtle humour, and a cameo from Miami Vice star Phillip Michael Thomas to boot.
Never recognised by the public. Possibly too 'quirky' for some.Our rating:
9.5 out of 10Review Written by Benn Bowers: Contact | More Reviews by Benn Bowers