If you click this link, you'll be taken to the webpage that Judge Brett Cullum made about a DVD that Heretic Films made of a documentary that Craigslist members made about their website. Now if only someone would post this back to Craigslist, the circle would be complete...
24 Hours in the life of one of the world's most active Internet sites.
I have an awful admission to make…I'm a Craigslist addict. I go to the site daily to read "rants and raves" where users can chose a topic and write a free form editorial piece. Some are sad, others are witty, but they're all entertaining in some sick way (even the badly written ones…scratch that, especially the badly written ones). The first time I used Craigslist was to recruit employees for a Cirque Du Soleil production of Varekai. I needed 200-300 warm bodies to be ushers, box office staff, and kitchen workers. Craig's List provided me tons of potential candidates to run off and join Cirque. Then I got sucked in to the buying areas, the personal ads, and the event listings.
Craigslist was started in San Francisco, the brainchild of a man named Craig who worked extensively with the Internet for Charles Schwab. It began as simply a forum to list events, apartments, and the odd job here and there. Now the site generates over 3 billion page views per day with 10 million regular users all across the world. It's a unique community where you can sell your old DVDs, or find someone to attend your fetish party, all in one place. And it has remained a low tech, all text, free place to post anything. It's the world's biggest bulletin board, and is poised to destroy classified sections of newspapers because it's primarily free to use. But how the hell can you make a movie about it?
24 Hours on Craigslist was assembled by a few well placed ads on the actual site. They asked for film crews and music submissions to create the documentary. Eight crews went out over a 24 hour period and filmed various people who posted on Craigslist during that day. Somehow, with 200 hours of footage, an eighty-minute film was made. The feature proper samples all the categories and concentrates on average (or not so average) citizens of San Francisco. We see a couple who just want to sell a few extra baby strollers, as well as someone who wants to assemble a classic rock cover band with a drag-queen Ethel Merman as the lead singer. You've got the sexual, the innocent, and the money hungry gathered together in extremely fast-edited clips that are as scatological as the site itself.
During the course of the film we are witness to:
As far as documentaries go, 24 Hours on Craigslist is standard fare. Varying technical quality (depending on the situations the subjects are filmed in) make it hard to evaluate the disc's technical presentation. It is clear in some places, and murky in others. The sound is a simple stereo mix. But there is one huge difference between this disc and all the documentary sets I've viewed. This will be a first, but I recommend this DVD based more on the extras than the feature itself. Sure, the movie is a funny montage of the banal and off-the-wall, but the extras are where the action is. Featurettes reveal the history of the site, how the movie was made, and four hours of excised footage which didn't make it in to the all-too-short feature. If you caught 24 Hours on Craigslist at a screening you've missed actually seeing the site's founder, any glimpses at the headquarters, and how the film was made. The meat of this production is found in extras which turn out to be more fascinating than the movie they support. Find a way to get your hands on the two disc edition, or make sure to rent both DVDs. Feature? Worth maybe ten bucks to own. Extras? Priceless.
I'd say this DVD will appeal primarily to people who know about Craigslist already. I couldn't imagine heading in to this feature with no clue as to what the site is all about, even though the film does a very good job at explaining the site. Yet something tells me it's more fascinating if you are a user. Nothing in the film is too shocking; at the most it's simply kooky. It's more a portrait of the colorful denizens of San Francisco than anything else. Had the filmmakers chosen any other city in the Craigslist family it would be a portrait of that community as well. That's the real beauty of Craigslist—the natural community it creates. Unfortunately that doesn't always make for a fascinating film, but it sure is interesting in its own terms. In the end the movie will serve to make you more fascinated with the cyberworld where Craigslist resides. It's a movie that can not expect to be half as entertaining as the subject it is focusing on.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Heretic Films
• Making of Documentary
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