The Cancer, written and directed by Jonathan Block

DVcam, 11 min., Nov. 2001.

Garrett Gilchrist as Garrett Reid
Jason Walsh as Jason Spencer
Clyde Small as the Narrator

Written and Directed by Jonathan Block

Edited by Jonathan Block and Garrett Gilchrist

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Pictures from the film

The story: Garrett Reid, a non-smoker, shoots an anti-smoking documentary centered around smoker Jason Spencer. As the documentary goes on, Garrett tries to get Jason to quit smoking, and does not take kindly to the disinterest Jason shows in this. The film suggests that non-smokers and smokers do not live in peace, and that non-smokers may be just as dangerous to smokers as smokers are to them ...

(Done with help from Orange Cow, this was originally conceived as a USC student film but was disowned by USC and is no longer under their copyright.)

This was Jonathan Block's fourth student film. Previously, Jon had made an untitled short, "The TV Thief" starring Rob Keith, and "Friday Night" starring Sean Carr, Cori Haisler and Mariana McConnell. A semester earlier, Jonathan Block had acted in Garrett Gilchrist's "Music for the Mind Ballet" and produced and assistant directed Garrett's "Stripped Away" - one of Garrett's favorite movies he's done.

Garrett Gilchrist had helped Jonathan out in the editing of "The TV Thief," and had actually appeared in "Friday Night" with his girlfriend Mariana. Garrett didn't originally help with the editing of "Friday Night," and a frustrated Jonathan was unable to complete the film the way he wanted it. The entire Mariana plot was deleted from the film and a rushed, cut-down version screened. The class didn't like it. Jonathan was heartbroken, but Garrett offered to take the footage from him and recut the film properly. When Jonathan saw Garrett's recut version [which was much faster-moving and restored nearly all the footage Jonathan had actually shot while retaining the same short length], he was very happy and immediately began talking to Garrett about what the fourth project would be. Jon's idea - irritated by anti-smoking films he'd seen, he wanted to do a movie that would support smokers. Garrett (non-smoker) and Jon (casual smoker) talked the film out together gathering ideas, but it was up to Jon to write the script.

Jonathan, a writer by trade, had penned many wonderful unproduced screenplays including "These Are Days," "All Over Her" and "For the Drafted." The screenplay was not followed exactly during shooting, to keep an improvised feel to the dialogue, which is shot to look and feel like a documentary - Jason Walsh being laid-back and likeable, Garrett being driven and deluded. It was shot in two days, but Jonathan was unhappy with the final, confrontational scene of the film, and did a reshoot half a week later, where the performances were much more subtle and assured. As a tag team, Jon and Garrett cut the film together, Jon as the main editor, Garrett reworking and improving Jon's cuts after the rough cut was done.

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