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Porcelain Unicorn
August 8, 2011 2:54 PM   Subscribe

Entrants in the Philips-sponsored constrained cinema competition Tell It Your Way were restricted to three minutes and just six lines of dialogue: “What is that?,” “It’s a unicorn,” “Never seen one up close before,” “Beautiful,” “Get away, get away,” and “I’m sorry.” In spite of these limitations, the winner was surprisingly profound.
posted by ambulocetus (43 comments total) 34 users marked this as a favorite

 
They had to use those exact six lines of dialog?
posted by grobstein at 3:00 PM on August 8, 2011


That's an entry into a competition? How much did that cost?

(However much it cost, they still laid it on pretty thick in parts, too).
posted by Hartham's Hugging Robots at 3:01 PM on August 8, 2011


I should probably have expected to get all choked up.

Is there a "it's hard to look professional when you're crying NSFW" filter? There really should be. *sniffle*
posted by Kpele at 3:03 PM on August 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


More and more, I become convinced that the truly creative emerges from limitations and constraints. The winner was a really beautiful story, partly because of the sparseness of the dialogue. And I found myself wanting to watch more to find out where the dialogue would fit into the story.
posted by quadog at 3:04 PM on August 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


I suppose it's more subtle than this one.
posted by robself at 3:04 PM on August 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


I don't know much more than that, but yes those six lines and under three minutes were the constraints. Sort of like those micro-short stories some writers were doing in the 90s.
posted by ambulocetus at 3:05 PM on August 8, 2011


It's brilliant; it follows the dictum: "Show, don't tell"
Whoever made this film had deep pockets, though...
posted by Renoroc at 3:10 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is exponentially more interesting than The Five Obstructions.
posted by pdb at 3:10 PM on August 8, 2011


That was awesome. Proof that cool things can come from profit-driven activities.
posted by Aizkolari at 3:10 PM on August 8, 2011


"in spite of these limitations"?

Methinks one hasn't paid enough attention to the Oulipo.
posted by chavenet at 3:22 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Goddamn it, I've got something in my eye, again.
posted by ericb at 3:25 PM on August 8, 2011


That was awesome. Proof that cool things can come from profit-driven activities.

Yeah ... like major motion pictures, books, DVDs and live concert performances.
posted by ericb at 3:26 PM on August 8, 2011 [13 favorites]


Proof that cool things can come from profit-driven activities.

Was there ever any debate over this? I thought that was somewhat obvious...
posted by BenS at 3:30 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


More and more, I become convinced that the truly creative emerges from limitations and constraints.

Agreed. Artists frequently rail against such restrictions -- what you can and can't show/say on network TV, for instance -- but working around that sort of thing can not only bring out some beautiful stuff, but often really subtle, even subversive ideas and messages that are more interesting and thought-provoking than what you'd get if you were just allowed to do whatever you want.
posted by Gator at 3:30 PM on August 8, 2011


"Keegan Wilcox’s stunning Porcelain Unicorn was hand-picked as the Grand Prize Winner by director Ridley Scott."*
posted by ericb at 3:31 PM on August 8, 2011


“Porcelain Unicorn,” which can be watched on YouTube, was the brainchild of an American director, Keegan Wilcox. Mr. Wilcox, a producer and director at ELA Advertising in California, wins prizes that include a week working at Ridley Scott Associates and the promotion of his short by Philips in venues that include a section of the Philips Web site.

Mr. Scott selected the short from among more than 600 entries in the contest, which was inspired by online commercials for Philips, under the title “Parallel Lines,” created by the London office of DDB Worldwide, part of the Omnicom Group.

A People’s Choice Award was also presented in the contest, to a short called “Baby Time,” by a French director, Cedric Petitcollin. “Baby Time” can also be watched on YouTube.

There is also a YouTube channel devoted to the contest. The entries were winnowed to 306 semifinalists, which a panel of judges narrowed to 10 finalists. The public then voted on YouTube to select five of those 10 shorts for the final round of judging, during which Mr. Scott chose “Porcelain Unicorn” as the winner.*
posted by ericb at 3:34 PM on August 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Those were some well-connected hideaways to smoke filtered cigarettes 10 years before they were widely available. What were those worth in a war-time economy?

"Did he get our Faberge eggs?"

"Ha ha! He took that unicorn tchotchke that aunt Marion gave us! And you're not going to believe this! He got a smack for it!"

[70 years later]

"Oh, for fuck's sake. There's no more room on the goddamn mantle. Shit. He's clearly needy and succumbing to dementia. Better play it up."

Any emotional response is really unwarranted. It's an ad for the company that you probably swear at every time a lightbulb blows. It's an advertisement, bottom line.
posted by Mayor Curley at 3:35 PM on August 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


Previously on MetaFilter.
posted by eyeballkid at 3:41 PM on August 8, 2011


Keegan Wilcox's Facebook page.

Interview with Wilcox on the making of his film.

He graduated college in 2005 ... so, that makes him likely 26 - 28 y.o. Good on him!
posted by ericb at 3:42 PM on August 8, 2011


Mr. Wilcox, a producer and director at ELA Advertising in California, wins prizes that include a week working at Ridley Scott Associates [RSA] and the promotion of his short by Philips in venues that include a section of the Philips Web site.

Update from Keegan Wilcox following his experience with RSA in LA.
posted by ericb at 3:45 PM on August 8, 2011


Yup, this is a total double, as eyeballkid points out.
posted by hippybear at 3:48 PM on August 8, 2011


Yup, this is a total double, as eyeballkid points out.

Really? This FPP focuses on the 2011 and not the 2010 contest (as the other FPP does).
posted by ericb at 3:53 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh, sorry.
Same script, different year. Who knew?
posted by hippybear at 3:58 PM on August 8, 2011


I swear I searched for it...
posted by ambulocetus at 4:02 PM on August 8, 2011


Philips Cinema - Tell it you way competition - Grand Prize winner - Sep 20, 2010.
posted by eyeballkid at 4:02 PM on August 8, 2011


Though, looking at it now, the original post was about the contest, the winner hadn't been selected yet. I rescind my double post comment!
posted by eyeballkid at 4:07 PM on August 8, 2011


Well that makes me relieved; I was waiting for something good to make my first FPP, and I would have been sad if it was a double.
posted by ambulocetus at 4:14 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, most of the previous videos are now private (and replacing "watch/v=" to just "/v/" doesn't work anymore, though you do get to see the still image). If you want to see them, they're on the RSA Films website, without the silly fancypants TV frame.
posted by filthy light thief at 4:20 PM on August 8, 2011


I don't care if it's an ad, or if it's a kinda-double, I feel better for having seen it. I'm having a lousy morning and needed some sunshine in my day.

Thanks for posting, ambulocetus.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 4:25 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


That was good. I was thinking the kid should've said to the Nazi when he stepped on the unicorn 'You dick!" ala Sean Penn in Fast Times at Ridgemont High to Mr Hand. But apparently that wasn't part of the required dialogue. Maybe next year.
posted by Liquidwolf at 5:14 PM on August 8, 2011


Great post. I too believe the best art comes from constraint and discipline - nifty little movie.
posted by helmutdog at 5:19 PM on August 8, 2011


(However much it cost, they still laid it on pretty thick in parts, too).

In parts? I mean, the grand prize was well-enough-earned for managing to extract so much glurge from so few lines of dialogue alone, but come on.
posted by wreckingball at 5:24 PM on August 8, 2011


Pure schmaltz.
posted by Pranksome Quaine at 5:28 PM on August 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Dear Ask Metafilter, I need some advice on what kind of glue to use to repair a porcelain animal figurine, specifically a unicorn.
posted by bendy at 5:42 PM on August 8, 2011


Wie sagt man "cloying" auf Deutsch?
posted by sklero at 6:11 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Does this count as a Godwin?

Once I saw the boy in the uniform I knew exactly where this was going, yet I still fell for it. I laughed at the cheesiness even as the tears welled up.
posted by modernserf at 7:01 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Holy shit. My landlord is a nazi! Err...one of those nazis. Glad to know he's making a name for himself out there in Hollywood.
posted by Lisitasan at 8:05 PM on August 8, 2011


I know I shouldn't say anything, but what the hell: this a terrible film! It throws away the little dialogue it's allowed in an earthbound, semi-sensical exchange ("Beautiful"?), and makes no effort to establish any traits for its characters more sophisticated than "child" or "nazi". In any case, what's the big deal; it's practically standard for short films to have no dialogue or very little: Some are blasphemous, some are sweet, some are elegant, some are confusing, some are creepy, some are slick, some are hilarious, some are terrifying, some are thoroughly fucked up, and none of them is a musty, shameless effort to exploit the single most overexploited tragedy there is to win brief fame and corporate favour. I apologise for being such a hater, I know it's wrong, but there you have it.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 10:50 PM on August 8, 2011 [14 favorites]


Yeah, pretty much after hearing the music and seeing the sepia Germany 1943 flashback, you could stop watching. You know exactly how it's going to go.
posted by mek at 11:48 PM on August 8, 2011


amazing, the thread godwined itself before it even started!
posted by Shit Parade at 1:29 AM on August 9, 2011


That was pretty much the definition of kitsch.
posted by e.e. coli at 5:31 AM on August 9, 2011


I apologise for being such a hater, I know it's wrong, but there you have it.

It's not wrong, you summed up my feelings about the movie. It was shamelessly and listlessly manipulative, aiming low and hitting even lower.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:44 AM on August 9, 2011


I'm with modernserf--It's cinematic Godwinning (of a contest, rather than an argument).
posted by umbú at 12:39 PM on August 9, 2011


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