TNB Night Owl–Strangeheart

Wheel of cheese cut and stacked in front of a stone wall. Photo by Alexander Maasch.

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

I can hear director Brian Hedenberg uttering this phrase when discussing his film STRANGEHEART (2003). It was supposed to be something fun to do with 200 people picked up at a couple Dallas pubs. Come to a field. Dress in bedsheets. Reenact the battle scene from BRAVEHEART (1995). That day came and even Guinness got in on the act by donating 50 cases of beer to the cast. Everyone had a drunken blast. Why not extend it out and make a full feature film?

What you end up with is what you’d expect from that scenario, and yet so much more. The base of the film is a remake of BRAVEHEART and, in thus, a retelling of the William Wallace tale. This is not a historically accurate telling. If anyone watches this for accuracy they should not be allowed near movie rentals without supervision.

Imagine BRAVEHEART as a musical comedy. Then take the salary Mel Gibson got for an hour, cut that in half, and that’s probably the budget for the whole thing. These were are not professional actors, but were probably recruited from that first day of shooting for their enthusiasm. When making a movie where the production values are almost nonexistent, you can either try and hide it or embrace it. STRANGEHEART embraced it fully. Jokes about cardboard props and soda-box helmets abound. If an actor couldn’t pull off a British accent they didn’t even try to hide it, but instead let him sing his lines in fluent Texan. Outdoor shots were stolen from a local Ren Faire. The sheep…well, they got real sheep. From where, I’m not sure.

Where this movie shines far above other amateur endeavors isn’t in grand production values but in humor. The filmmakers know how to deliver a joke. Between deceptively witty and well-timed delivery, the laughs keep coming at a decent speed. A caveat–the humor is low-brow or lower. If fart and inappropriate sheep romance jokes aren’t your speed then you might want to avoid this.

The movie is currently on YouTube broken up into four parts:

(parts 2, 3, and 4 can be found here)

Speaking of “seems like a good idea”, director Brian Hedenberg has not directed another feature since. My research shows he went on to be a fashion photographer in New York, as well as opening up a now-defunct inflatable photo studio company.

Question of the night: what questionable choices have you made that had unexpectedly good results?

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