The Clueless Competitor - a mini documentary

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Mike Pulcinella
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Joined: Jan 30 2007

A few of you have expressed some appreciation of my work in the bodybuilding world. For you and anyone else who is interested I present The Clueless Competitor, a 7-minute video that has been causing quite a controversy on the bodybuilding forums.

Here is the post as presented on Musculardevelopment.com...

"Should there be minimum requirements to enter a bodybuilding contest or does anything go at the local level?

What if someone seems not to be in possession of all their faculties? Can just anyone get on stage at a bodybuilding contest?

Where do we draw the line?"

http://www.vimeo.com/2292882

Anyone interested in reading some of the reactions from the BB community can do so here...

http://forums.musculardevelopment.com/showthread.php?t=47042

Flame1
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Joined: Apr 21 2007

Ha:D ,

Absolutely brilliant!

The way you captured and told the story is great and kept me watching all the way through.

Seriously though, I can tell by your voice that you have a vitamin deficiency in vitamin z:D

You captured that gentleman(fruitcake!) perfectly.

I personally think you need more of them so that you can continue to make entertaining and informative documentaries!

Thank you for sharing.

Cheers.:)

Flame.

Mike Pulcinella
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Joined: Jan 30 2007
Flame1 wrote:

Seriously though, I can tell by your voice that you have a vitamin deficiency in vitamin z:D

LOLLLLL!!

branny
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Joined: Nov 6 2001

Personally, I think it's very sad that you've chosen to humiliate an obviously disabled person with this piece Mike.
I haven't listened to any commentary so maybe I'm missing the justification, but there are many who regard bodybuilding competitions as a freak show and you could be giving them a lot more ammunition to throw at the dedicated bodybuilders than they would wish for. Sorry!

Do not follow, I may not lead. Do not lead . . . I may not follow.

Chrome
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Joined: May 26 1999

Good work Mike. I think you handled a difficult and emotive issue in a fairly unbiased way. Whilst I understand where branny is coming from, I don't think it was a case of humiliation, however I must admit I would have liked to see more people interviewed on the subject as the focus was probably on Steve for a bit too long.

I think you have probably helped to highlight a question which is on the mind of many people involved in bodybuilding, without giving it the type of pre-conceived or pre-ordained conclusions which are often seen in modern documentaries such as those by such as Moore and Spurlock. They tend to have identified their conclusions before making their films and then make everything fit their pre-determined vision. I'm not comparing your work to theirs directly btw the title you have chosen makes it appear as if you are making a judgement, which I think you should perhaps re-consider.

I think the subject would certainly have made a longer doc if you wanted to do it and I believe it would have larger appeal than those just in the BB community if handled correctly.

Lusky
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Joined: May 8 2006

Hi Mike,

Really interesting an engaging.
What I didn't like was you answered your own questions about allowing competitors such as Steve into the event, where I think that that would have been better answered by an organiser of an event. He would have been able to explain why they allow it and the problems if any of limiting the field. That would have been more credible for the documentary as a whole than you answering.
I'd also have loved some audience members. Why to they cheer? Is it genuine support or are they taking the P.
One thing I didn't feel was addressed was Steve's apparent mental disability (was he?) as that adds another sinister twist to it especially the audience cheers. Are the organisers being fair on Steve letting him in.
I think you have the basis for a fantastic documentary that could easily be expanded and would be worth expanding.

John Paul

Mike Pulcinella
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Joined: Jan 30 2007

This is what I love about coming here for advice and input! Straight talk and intelligent critiques!

Chrome:

My intention was to bring to light a recurring problem that promoters face with every contest and to initiate a discussion in the BB community that would challenge our underlying assumptions about the sport. That happened and is ongoing and I'm proud of that.

Lusky:

Yes, it could be a longer doc! I am thinking about expanding on it. As it is, it was cobbled together from snippets of footage that I was shooting for another project. Had I intended for this to be my main subject I would have surely gotten interviews and fleshed it out a bit more.

You are accurate with your insights. At least half the crowd was mocking him. It is my contention that by not insisting that Steve follow the standards of the sport and properly learn to present himself on stage that the promoters were complicit in that.

Every sport has its standards. Waiving them just because Steve has a mental handicap is condescending to handicapped people, not empowering, as many in the BB community have argued.

Branny:

It upsets me that you think me mean-spirited for creating this. As I have said to others who have accused of the same thing, if you find this video presentation humiliating for Steve then you must also agree his performance that day was humiliating to him and should not have been allowed. Do YOU think Steve should have been allowed on stage that day?

Having said that, upon repeated viewing (and with your post in mind) I now think that the flippant tone of the title and the opening minutes cause many people to mis-interpret my introduction of Steve as mocking. In fact, my hope was to transform the initial smiles we all get from the occasional "wacky" competitor to one of real concern for someone with real problems. If I failed to do that then I suppose I am not quite the editor I thought I was!

Once again you have helped me open my eyes to my own work. Because of you, if I do take this subject further I would be sure to change the title and the overall tone of the piece from the outset.

branny
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Joined: Nov 6 2001

Hi Mike,
A shame you left yourself open to this. As editor you were in control of the 'slant' and could have headlined this and presented it in many different ways.
My thoughts weren't all on Steve's predicament, but on the serious bodybuilders who became entangled in it because of the film.
The disability thing is worth discussion, but in my opinion there should be, as in the Olympics, a disabled section, where those who aspire to be the best they can are spared the potential jeers and sympathy and can train and present according to their limitations.
This leaves the able bodied 'athletes' to contend on equal terms.

Glad you've taken everyone's thoughts on board though, It can only help make you a better editor on emotive issues like this.

Do not follow, I may not lead. Do not lead . . . I may not follow.

Mike Pulcinella
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Joined: Jan 30 2007
branny wrote:
Hi Mike,
A shame you left yourself open to this. As editor you were in control of the 'slant' and could have headlined this and presented it in many different ways.
My thoughts weren't all on Steve's predicament, but on the serious bodybuilders who became entangled in it because of the film.
The disability thing is worth discussion, but in my opinion there should be, as in the Olympics, a disabled section, where those who aspire to be the best they can are spared the potential jeers and sympathy and can train and present according to their limitations.
This leaves the able bodied 'athletes' to contend on equal terms.

Glad you've taken everyone's thoughts on board though, It can only help make you a better editor on emotive issues like this.

Truth be told it was my intent to be provocative and draw people in with the title and the initial slant who might not have watched the video if it were a more sober exploration of the subject. In retrospect I may have been a bit clumsy in that regard and ended up putting some people off before I'd made my point. Despite that I have gotten more than a few comments saying that I handled the topic with taste and restraint. You can't please everyone, I suppose.

Since the release of the video I have been advocating for a "Special" category at these contests. The only problem is, Steve doesn't think he's different. So how would we get him into that category??

branny
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Joined: Nov 6 2001
Mike Pulcinella wrote:
The only problem is, Steve doesn't think he's different. So how would we get him into that category??

That is the X factor. The early entries of the TV show all think they have great voices cause their Mom told them and they are convinced their 1st number one hit is only moments away.
Only when faced with 3 professional judges in private do most recognise it's an illusion, so maybe it's an education thing.

Do not follow, I may not lead. Do not lead . . . I may not follow.

red
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Joined: Oct 1 2000

Very different to what I expected when I clicked on the thread. Did you pick him out from various sources or was he just the first one you came across?

Fine subject matter anyway and his narcissistic leanings are evident even if his mental prowess is not.

The title is fine in the american interpretation, your inflection in the voiceover proves that. Clueless can be far more insulting on this side of the pond.

My own thoughts are, that as far as competition is concerned, his own opinion is irrelevant as to how good he is. Only expert judges or referees decide if you are good enough for a certain category, on performance of course. It's not fair that he's lumped in with competitors who have trained, payed gym fees, tan costs, etc to have a complete novice turn out next to them.

I would imagine that the whoever gets the spot next to the clueless guy is on a loser before he starts for a multitude of reasons?

If I was a betting man I would say every serious bodybuilder prays he doesn't get a spot next to Mr Clueless. If that's the case then the governing body needs to get it's act together to protect it's bona fide members. Nothing new in that , gymnasts, boxers, martial arts etc all do it.

Imagine a fat 50yr old getting in the ring with Mike Tyson...

Mike Pulcinella
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Joined: Jan 30 2007
branny wrote:
That is the X factor. The early entries of the TV show all think they have great voices cause their Mom told them and they are convinced their 1st number one hit is only moments away.
Only when faced with 3 professional judges in private do most recognise it's an illusion, so maybe it's an education thing.

Good point!

Thanks again for your input branny. I really appreciate your honest critique.

Billwill
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Joined: Sep 17 2000

Hi Mike
I make most of my pound notes from a profession outside of film-making, but can I comment on your piece.
Your movie was engaging, and also neutral to a point. I agree with Red re the title gives us almost a judgment before we hit play. And I doubt you wanted that effect. Well that maybe just a British style observation.
I was waiting for a professional from the sport to come in and give either a justification for what was a sad/comical of Steve's 'show' or maybe an admittance that questions the relevance or need for the many Steves in the competitions.
Comparing it to the X-Factor was fair. Maybe many people want a dose of embarressment along the way.
Hey, good work Mike.

Billy Ellwood is on Vimeo http://www.newcastleaca.co.uk at the film club

Mike Pulcinella
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Joined: Jan 30 2007
red wrote:
Very different to what I expected when I clicked on the thread. Did you pick him out from various sources or was he just the first one you came across?

I stumbled across him. I was not there to shoot him that day and so didn't get a rich of a piece as I normally would have if he were the main subject.

red
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Joined: Oct 1 2000

Makes it better that you didn't have the choice and still made a great film.

Hypothetically, I'd have gone for the coloured guy doing all the weird gymnastics stuff, would have been a scream!

Rutkowsky
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Joined: Oct 1 2008

Good work from me too Mike!

Sony PMW EX3 and Nikon D700 to supplement EX3 :)