Matt Bucy is probably best known in the world of fan fiction—he’s the co-producer and cinematographer for the impressive and ongoing series of fan-made Star Trek episodes called Star Trek Continues which endeavors to function (unofficially and non-canonically, of course) as a continuation of Star Trek TOS after its third and final season. Five episodes have been made since 2013, all of which have done a fine job of recreating the look and feel of the original 1960s Star Trek episodes. All of them are viewable online, and a sixth episode is scheduled for release this spring.
And somehow, amid his professional work, Bucy found the time to pull of one of the most brain-meltingly OCD remix stunts ever attempted: he’s alphabetized the indelibly classic 1939 film adaptation of The Wizard of Oz. The result is called Of Oz the Wizard, and it’s a mind-scramble to watch. So we’re clear on what exactly has been done here, Bucy re-edited the entire film so that every word of dialogue appears in alphabetical order—he even rearranged the credits. Repetitions of oft-recurring words are sometimes jarring, sometimes hilarious, sometimes actually musical. My favorite sections are “ARF” (I’m a dog person, sue me), “DEAD,” “HOW,” and, surprise surprise, “ROAD.” (Don’t even get me started on “BECAUSE,” good lord…) I had to know what kind of person would do something so wonderfully insane, so I reached out to Bucy, who was kind enough to spare us some of his time to answer questions.
Dangerous Minds: GOOD GOD, MAN, WHY DID YOU DO THIS CRAZY THING?
Matt Bucy: It was a challenge from a friend, Ray Guillette, to do something never done before. While on a short road trip, he said he didn’t think anything original was possible. I said nonsense! He asked for an example. I hatched the idea then, pretty much complete, and we riffed on the idea for a while. Then I totally forgot about it. But a couple years later he asked me when I was going to make this original thing. I said I’d hop on it right away and thanked him for saving the project!
DM: When was this done and how long did it take?
MB: The idea was hatched in 2001 (I think) and then I actually did it in April 2004. It has been shown sporadically since then, most recently at MIX in NYC a couple years ago.
It didn’t take too long. In a couple of days I wrote a bit of code to help disassemble the movie, then the disassembly took me and another friend three days to complete. It was a manual process but it went very quickly. It was pretty difficult to speak after a day of disassembly! It really messed with my head. The credits took another day. I had to wait for the right moody clouds to show up where I live so I could re-shoot the sky pan that lies under the credits. In total no more than a week of work.
DM: I really love the rhythms that are created by some of the most oft-repeated words. And there are some long passages of wordlessness. Could you talk about what edit criteria other than the alphabet you followed, or were those decisions more intuitive?
MB: The editing criteria were simple and strict. Alphabetical then chronological. The only subjective decisions were about how to spell things like screams and breathing. I consulted a friend, James Sturm, who co-founded the cartoon school here in town about some of these since they appear in cartoons all the time.
DM: You dug around in the guts of a classic piece of popular art, one that people know intimately already. How did the process transform your view of the film?
MB: My appreciation for the film increased enormously, mostly in a technical sense while disassembling. I saw and heard things I’d never seen before and which you would only see going frame by frame. I saw how much craft there is in the film. With headphones on and listening to sections over and over I heard how much the soundtrack is edited to sound smooth, for instance. I had no idea what the final result of my edit would be. I had concern that it’d just be a mess, but on first play that concern evaporated into laughs, screams, jumping up and down and astonishment. I got pretty excited!
Interesting discovery: there are less than a thousand unique words in the film. Most words are used only once. Also, there are mistakes! And people are finding them and letting me know, some angrily! Amusing. I guess that’s what happens when you mess with a classic.
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Jodorowsky on blast: El Topo and Holy Mountain get an audio-visual remix
Animator of twisted Lewis Carroll reboot ‘Malice in Wonderland’ has done a bizarre ‘Wizard of Oz’