Wayward Youth Filmmaking…The Substance

In the summer of 1991, now a year older and wiser, my friends and I got together again to create what would be our adolescent magnum opus, The Substance. I got the idea when putting away groceries and squeezed a tub of Marshmallow Fluff and it oozed out in a disconcerting manner (I realize Marshmallow Fluff may be unknown outside of New England, so click here to learn more about it). So armed with an idea that was more than a little inspired by Larry Cohen’s The Stuff, and a rough story idea which was basically how-do-we-get-to-each-person-being-killed, we set out to shoot. We shot out of sequence, understanding that we’d edit it together later going from camcorder to VCR (which is not a way anyone should ever edit things as it’s nearly impossible to coordinate when the tape heads roll and don’t roll when you need them to, which resulted in the weird jump cuts and “action”s heard throughout. I wish I could say that was stylistically inspired but it wasn’t, yet I do think it enhances the experience regardless). This is where I learned to kind of come up with things plotwise that I knew I could pull off fairly easily and my friends and family rose to the occasion and got into it (even when I was getting somewhat insufferable) right along side me. And years later, the film’s star, Brian Bresnahan, actually made a finished edit, complete with actual opening credits, score, and enhanced sound effects, essentially creating the final cut. So, presented below in two parts– The Substance.