“You don’t even shake hands. You oughta see a shrink.” “Miss Belair, if you feel compelled to grab part of my body and shake it before you can even be friendly you’ve got far worse problems than you think I have.”
Mike Jittlov (Mike Jittlov) wants to work in Hollywood as a special effects technician on the “Doctor Magic" show. Although talented he is having difficulty getting a job with the show since he is not a “name” in the business.
Lucky Straeker (Steve Brodie) works for a competing studio. When he sees Jittlov’s film sample and reads his script he wants to hire him. The producer of the company, Harvey Bookman (Richard Kaye), is not interested. To get Harvey to agree Lucky makes a bet with Harvey. For $25,000 Lucky bets that Mike can come through with a special effects sequence that they can use for their upcoming special “Hollywood’s Greatest Effects”.
Mike’s first problem is that he doesn’t belong to any of the film unions or guilds that are required to make films in Hollywood. Mike has no choice but to attempt to film without them. Even though Lucky tries to help the fledgling technician Harvey, wanting to win an easy $25,000, does everything he can to put obstacles in the way so that Mike can’t complete his assignment on time.
“The Wizard of Speed and Time” was released in 1988 and was directed by Mike Jittlov.
In 1979 Mike Jittlov needed a job. He was looking to work at Disney Studios. Mike is a special effects technician. To showcase his talents for Disney he created a three minute movie using mostly stop motion animation along with other practical effects. The name of the short was “The Wizard of Speed and Time”. Done with almost no budget the film was about a green Wizard running “The Flash” style along with dancing tripods and film canisters. This short film originally was shown as a segment of an episode of The Wonderful World of Disney called "Major Effects". The short then began to be shown at various science fiction conventions around the country.
Eventually Jittlov create a feature film as a semi-fictionalized account of how the short film came to be. The feature film took over five years to complete. It was released to a few theaters in 1989. Later it was released on VHS and laserdisc. So far, there has never been an official DVD release.
The full length film is a satirical representation of the real life difficulties Jittlov encountered trying to become a technician in the movie business. Jittlov produced, wrote and was the lead actor in the film.
Phillip Michael Thomas plays a cop in the film long before his “Miami Vice” days. Angelique Pettyjohn, who plays Dora Belair, also played Shana in the Star Trek episode “The Gamesters of Triskelion”. There is a poster of her on the office wall in her silver Shana outfit in the movie. Mike Jittlov did his own stunt work in the pool. He lay on the bottom holding his breath for two straight minutes. All the scenes involving the various union reps were done in the same room, with the same desk. The actor playing all the representatives was Will Ryan. Pluto the police dog was played by a dog named Baron or a brown rug depending on the camera shot. The film is jam packed full of little quirky things that are easily missed. You may have to watch it more than once to see many of them. Even the subliminal messages.
This rarely heard of and even rarely seen film is tenderly remembered by a small fan base whose connection with it is mostly in the trading of bootleg video copies before Youtube was ever invented. Now it and the three minute short are on Youtube and the full length film is quietly nestled in the Archive.
It’s a charming film that gets even better as you watch it.