The Wizard of Speed and Time is a movie about dreams and reality, corruption and idealism. It's about Hollywood. The year is 1977 - the year of "Star Wars" and "Close Encounters", the rebirth of movie imagination and technical wizardry. And our story is about one of those special effects wizards... an eccentric filmmaker, hidden off on a Hollywood hillside, who is about to get the chance of a lifetime.
Discovered through a pirated videotape, MIKE JITTLOV is summoned to a major film studio by director Lucky Straeker (STEVE BRODIE) and sleazy producer Harvey Bookman (RICHARD KAYE). They're making a TV spectacular all about special effects, and want Mike to create "a whirlwind tour de force" sequence that just might be used in the show. Because Mike is unknown and non-union, he can't be officially hired. But if his work is good enough, it could be bought as "stock footage" and be seen on their nationwide show. It is an incredible opportunity, a filmmaker's dream.
It is also a Herculean challenge, since the show's airdate is just a few weeks away. Mike contacts his friends, Brian Lucas (DAVID CONRAD) and Steve Shostakovich (JOHN MASSARI), who decide to pool their ingenuity and savings to create a sensational effects showcase of stop-motion, speed-motion, animation, rotoscoping, and every other form of special effect. Mike is elected to act as a magical wizard who brings an entire film studio to life, with marching tripods, dancing cameras and flying filmcans - and who then leaves Hollywood at super-speed, racing around the world to perform a marathon of effects miracles. In true Hollywood tradition, most of this will be accomplished in Mike's garage.
As the adventure builds, a love interest also evolves between Mike and Cindy Light (PAIGE MOORE), an aspiring actress who met him at the studio, and who chooses to help him at the risk of losing her own job on the show. The small crew struggles to film through windstorms, lightning storms, insane bureaucracy, throngs of tourists, and a totally unexpected sabotage of their work by the TV special's crooked producer. For Bookman has secretly made a $25,000 bet with Straeker, that Jittlov won't create anything worth seeing. A sneak preview of Mike's special effects footage proves the opposite: the work of an eccentric unknown is going to steal the show on Bookman's big-name extravaganza. The producer goes wild.
Streetwise thugs (GARY SCHWARTZ and FRANK LaLOGGIA) are disguised as policemen, and sent to stop the filmmakers at all costs. What follows is possibly one of the most bizarre chases ever seen in Hollywood, as Mike rides his motorized suitcase through busy downtown boulevards and backlot movie sets, hotly pursued by Bookman's thugs, with real police (PHILIP MICHAEL THOMAS and LYNDA ALDON) chasing the disguised crooks. The small can of incredible film footage is delivered to the studio, but stolen by Bookman, and lost until the producer's double-crossing is exposed at a huge studio wrap party in the Hollywood hills.
The movie concludes in an exciting flurry of triumph and surprises, as the filmmakers and their work are discovered and celebrated by the people of Hollywood and by studio director Lucky, who never lost confidence in their talent and courage.
The Wizard of Speed and Time and related images © Mike Jittlov
Updated: July 31, 1999
Copyright 1997 John Hudgens - All Rights Reserved