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Hollywood Burn // and other illegal activities
by Aaron Zeghers // Published to Cineflyer // May 23, 2012

It's rare to see a film that embraces the prose of Hollywood cinema while ruthlessly attacking it. Hollywood Burn - a film as entertaining as it is subversive - is just that film.

Stolen from 100s Hollywood films are the building blocks of Hollywood Burn: a remixed, narrative adventure film set in a futuristic world of overzealous copyright control. By reappropriating the images that Hollywood has been so staunch in protecting, this work not only creates an adventure of it’s own, but also takes crack at the copyright struggles of today.

The film comes via the Berlin-based filmmaking duo that work under the moniker of Soda_Jerk. They have been honing their found footage filmmaking skills for over a decade, and it shows. This ain’t your grandmother’s found footage, Hollywood Burn is a fully realized narrative film. “Mimicking the hyperbolic rhetoric of today’s copyright cops, this film pits a righteous league of video pirates against the evil tyrant Moses and his copyright commandments. Determined to alter the present by changing the past, the pirates travel back to 1955 to construct the ultimate weapon: an Elvis Presley video-clone,” say Soda_Jerk about their film.

At it’s politicized core, Hollywood Burn is a manifesto against overzealous and inflated copyright control, produced unknowingly through Hollywood itself. At times it’s nearly surprising how blunt the filmmakers make their blow to corporate copyright. For example, the film opens with the Universal studio logo coming swirling around the globe. But as the word “Universal” hits it’s mark, another word “piracy” fades in below it. And it continues from there, with Soda_Jerk reaching not-so-carefully down the toothy throat of the Hollywood beast.

Although their intentions with this film are crystal clear, their political ambitions do not persuade them from adopting a traditional Hollywood plot. The hero, the villain, the love interest, the shootout: come one come all Hollywood tropes! Really the film is just downright entertaining, with many hilarious moments created simply by re-editing infamous cinematic pop culture. It’s fun to see and hear these familiar images and sounds, recontextualized.

It's even a little surprising sometimes to see how closely Hollywood Burn treads to the Hollywood narrative tradition. There is time travel, superheroes, the “party-to-end-all-parties”, and of course Bill Murray.

Soda_Jerk themselves claim that they are but a parasite, “feeding off the body of Hollywood and inhabiting its cinematic structures and codes.” But the truth is they are more than mere leeches. They have honed a technique that requires more patience and dedication than many people could muster in a lifetime. They have succeeded in many avenues where modern Hollywood is destined to fail. As a result, they have carved out their own niche and created a found footage, remix epic.

-Aaron Zeghers