Up until 2013, Virgin Media ran an awesome short film competition, Virgin Media Shorts. It gave a great platform to up and coming film makers and kick started careers for lots of talented folk. I was lucky enough to be asked to create two engaging pieces for their blog, focusing on two famous films that began life as shorts. Here’s an extract of one of those – read the full piece here.
THE SHORT THAT BECAME BOOGIE NIGHTS
As Virgin Media Shorts returns for another year, so too does our beloved series examining short films that went on to become feature-length, cinematic gems. This week, we’ve been delving into the dark underbelly of 70s LA.
In 1988, a 17-year-old Paul Thomas Anderson shot a half hour mockumentary on VHS and painstakingly edited it using two VCRs (hey, it was the 80s, kids). He roped in family friend Robert Ridgley to play a porn movie director, and got his obviously laid back dad to do the voiceover. The end result? The Dirk Diggler Story which, eight years later, became Anderson’s cult classic Boogie Nights, starring Julianne Moore, Burt Reynolds and Mark Wahlberg.
The short documents the rise and fall of Stephen Samuel Adams, a young chap from a religious background who goes on to become a porn star by the name of Dirk. As his star rises, so too does his ego, and Dirk leaves porn behind to pursue a career in music and acting, before ultimately dying of a drug overdose.
Not a million miles away from the plot of Boogie Nights. There are a few marked differences, not least the tragic ending, but it’s the similarities that stand out – note the brilliant opening credits, which are just as fantastic as those in the feature length film. That a 17-year old’s vision can stand the test of time it impressive; that it stayed true to that vision and became one of the stand-out films of the 90s, even more so.