The Wizard of Speed and Time was originally a 1979 Stop Motion short film by freelance filmmaker Mike Jittlov. The titular wizard was a speedy green-cloaked fellow (played by Jittlov himself) who ran around the world spreading magic as he went by, until slipping on a Banana Peel sends him flying straight into a pile of film cans, which he proceeds to animate along with plenty of other film equipment to a merry jig.
WOSAT, as it's commonly acronymed, was shown on an episode of The Wonderful World of Disney which showcased special effects to coincide with the release of The Black Hole. It has since been shown around many sci-fi conventions to great acclaim, prompting Mike to remake the short as a feature film... about making the short. After 5 years in the making, the feature film WOSAT was released in 1989 to limited theater showings, but has since gained a cult following through Laserdisc and VHS releases.
By permission of Mike Jittlov himself, the movie has been made available to anyone who wishes to watch it on YouTube (and can be downloaded and spread around, so long as you don't intend to profit from it). It can be found here.
It's about a freelancer's exaggerated but all-too-real journey through the corrupt and convoluted Hollywood system, and his drive to defy the system and make his own destiny in filmmaking; that's something that many of us folks can relate to, no?
- Banana Peel: The only thing that can stop the Wizard in his tracks, not that he slows down!
- Everything's Better with Sparkles: The Wizard bursts with them, using them to light lamps and create paper stars for his fans.
- Le Parkour: During one sequence, he slides along a wall through stop motion photography, each frame capturing him jumping onto the wall, only moving in position ever so slightly until the movement was captured down the wall.
- Stock Scream: The Wizard lets out a Goofy Holler when he hits the banana peel.
- Stop Motion: Featured extensively, mostly Pixilation along with animated objects.
- Super Speed: The main power of the Wizard.
- Walk on Water: Jittlov runs on water, kicking up a giant fantail of spray, in both versions of the "Wizard's Run".
- As Himself: At the start of the credits Mike is credited as being played by "The Wizard." The Wizard is credited as being played by himself.
- In "The Crowd Scene" at the end, the audience is comprised of Sci-Fi convention attendees who all provided their own costumes.
- Jittlov's actual Mother and Brother appear as themselves.
- Bait-and-Switch: Used for numerous buildings as the exterior shot would show a tiny shack/van but be Bigger on the Inside every time.
- Big "NO!": Bookman upon his realization that Jittlov Out-Gambitted him (see below) and loud enough to shake the entire building.
- Big "OMG!": Everyone present when the Hollywood's Greatest Effect special is preempted by a message from the President.
- The Cameo: The film has ones of Forrest J. Ackerman, Angelique Pettyjohn, Ward Kimball, Will Ryan, composer John Masari, a pre-Miami Vice Phillip Michael Thomas, and a sadly posthumous Stephen Stucker.
- The trailer even mocks this point with the line "[you'll] gasp in awe that we actually got big name stars to be in this!"
- Canada, Eh?: One of Bookman's hired thugs is an incredibly stereotypical Canadian.
- Car Chase: Labeled in the film's climax as "The Chase Scene".
- Cool Bike: Jittlov's bicycle looks like the cousin of Pee-Wee Herman's bike, and has such interesting features as propelling itself uphill and giving potential thieves an electrical shock.
- Unfortunately, he has to sell it to fund his film, and its new owner seems to shock himself away.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: Harvey Bookman, who placed a bet with Lucky Straeker that Jittlov could not make his movie. He went so far as to hire thugs to act as policemen to personally capture Jittlov for his freelancing, but it failed in the end, costing him his job.
- Disaster Dominoes: During Bookman's visit to the set, he trips over a power cord and sets off a domino effect crash that ends up knocking over all of the painstakingly-placed scenery.
- Doing It for the Art: In-Universe, Jittlov makes movies and creates elaborate special effects simply because it's what he loves doing. Watch his face during the editing montage and you can see that he's having nothing but fun while Lucky and Harvey are arguing over budget constraints.
- Double Entendre: When Mike takes Cindy to his room to give her a gift, Tina thinks he's going to show her "his new toy."
- Exact Words: Harvey tells his secretary to block any calls from Jittlov "and his friend Lucas." George Lucas soon calls and said secretary tells him Harvey has been Reassigned to Antarctica.
- Executive Meddling: In-Universe, Harvey tries everything in his power to stop Jittlov from making his movie, even though it was people higher-up than him that suggested that he be used in the first place.
- Even Evil Has Standards: The Canadian thug doesn't condone murder when he thinks Bookman is hiring him as a hit man. Subverted in that his Mexican partner is willing to go through with it.
- Handshake Refusal: Jittlov, in the film and in real life, refuses to shake hands with people.Jittlov: "It's a long story."
Dora Belair: Look, you work with me, I expect a pro. You don't even shake hands; you oughta see a shrink!
- This leads to an excellent rebuttal while at the Dr. Magic Show office, when the secretary goes to throw him out.
Mike Jittlov: 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.
- Heroic BSoD: Mike near the end when it appears all of his hard work was for nothing and he burns both his script and supplies. Cindy helps break him out of it.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Harvey's hiring the two thugs and leaving a clear paper trail as to who hired them when they 1. Arrest the wrong guy who gets their license plate number and 2. Get arrested themselves leads him to getting fired regardless of the success or failure of Hollywood's Greatest Effects.
- Hollywood Police Driving Academy: Subverted as the "policemen" driving it are actually petty criminals hired by Bookman to track down and capture Jittlov to prevent him making his movie.
- It's averted for the actual policemen.
- Honest Corporate Executive: As a stark contrast to Bookman's Only in It for the Money attitude, Straeker has faith in Jittlov's project and grants him creative freedom. He even tells Mike he's betting on him.Bookman:You expect me to use this guy's garage home movie and put it on nationwide television?!
Jittlov (weakly): It's going to look professional!
Straeker: Well, Disney started in a garage.
(he and Cindy exchange glances of agreement)
- Imagine Spot: Many of them are lifted from Jittlov's short films for Disney, including a Mickey Mouse satellite (used for the opening of the original Disney Channel) and car.
- Innocent Innuendo: When Cindy meets up with Mike in the elevator of Hollywood Studios, she reminds him who she is by telling him that she "gave him the clapnote ." What she means is that she applauded him earlier that day, but the other occupants flinch back in horror.
- It's the Journey That Counts: Cindy believes this at the end of the movie when the broadcast gets interrupted by the President and Jittlov goes into a depression.
- Jerkass: Harvey Bookman, full stop: He initially refuses to hire Mike because he's non-union, he directly and indirectly sabotages all of Mike's attempts at progress every step of the way, fires Cindy from the Hollywood's Greatest Effects special because she was helping Mike, and commits bank fraud all to win $25,000 despite the fact that Mike's contributions to the special very well could have saved his job as C.C. had given him the ultimatum at the very start of the movie.
- Leave the Camera Running: When Jittlov confronts Bookman about the under-valued check he got earlier and gets thrown in Bookman's pool for his trouble, what follows is a whopping 2 minute uninterrupted shot of the crowd looking on in horror and banter between Bookman, Straeker and a few of the party-goers who they were talking to earlier.
- Limited Wardrobe: Jittlov spends almost the entire movie in a green jacket and blue jeans. Lampshaded by Bookman when he and Straeker come to check his progress:Bookman: Doesn't he ever wear anything else?
- Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: See Painting the Medium. As the CEO of the studio says, "I know these people, they are special effects!"
- Medium Awareness: The movie fully knows it's in a movie, with captions that indicate different scenes and, during Harvey's rant about the numerous camera angles early on, the camera shifts for every single one.
- Meta Fiction: The film is about making a short film, the corporate executives who want the filmmakers' money, and the process of making stop-motion effects.
- Misspelling Out Loud: When C. C. de Schwartz fires Harvey Bookman, he shouts "You're out, Bookman! O-W-T!"
- Nepotism: C.C. de Schwartz helps his nephew Harold get an entry-level job with the studio (apparently with much higher pay than normal) and the primary reason he hadn't fired Bookman years ago is because Bookman is his son-in-law.
- Out-Gambitted: Harvey's final attempt at cheating Jittlov is to give him a bad check. Fortunately, Mike made sure to switch the film and not turn it over again until he and Brian got paid in full in cash.
- Painting the Medium: Jittlov seems to have strange powers related to special effects, including the ability to go through walls, move in fast-motion, and even read minds, finding out that a rather irate secretary that badmouthed him once had a rather interesting night in the office.Jittlov: "It's a special effect!"
- Police Are Useless: Initially played straight with the idea that the police treat filming without a permit far more seriously than assault, but subverted later on when they chase down and arrest Bookman's hired thugs (who also stole their car).
- Pun: Cindy's "pumping iron"note when she calls Mike.
- Punny Name: Lucky Straeker and Cindy Lite.
- Rock Bottom: What Jittlov and Lucas experience during the filming of the film can sequence in his garage. From pesky bats and bugs to strong winds and even a monsoon. Seemingly all from Mike's exuberance.Jittlov: It could be worse: we could be trying to film this in an earthquake.Lucas: Don't say that![Rumbling]Jittlov: Or calm weather! Perfectly calm...[Rumbling stops]Jittlov: What are you doing?Lucas: Praying for reality...
- Sassy Black Woman: Tina, Cindy's friend and roommate.
- Serious Business: Filming without a permit anywhere on public property (including the moon!) is treated as far more serious than armed robbery in the film.
- "Shaggy Dog" Story: Gloriously subverted. Mike deals with the Hollywood unions' bizarre rules, Bookman's Executive Meddling and attempts at ripping him off, and the police chasing him at Bookman's command. Despite this, he finally manages to get the film broadcast, only for the broadcast to be interrupted by a presidential address that rambles on incessantly. In a fit of rage and depression, Jittlov grabs all the remaining copies of the film and burns them, adding the script to the fire for good measure. Then, to cheer him up, Cindy takes him on a trip around town. When the presidential address ends, the short film Mike worked hard on is finally broadcast and develops a following.
- The Stinger: One that's appropriately about people not staying after the credits end.
- Tag Line: "His life is a special effect."
- Take That!:
- The entire movie is a celebration of the spirit of creativity and a jab against unions and bureaucrats who want to impede it for the sake of just making money.
- The song during Mike's bike ride through Hollywood contains lyrics that, to make it big in Hollywood, one must sacrifice their private life and sell their soul.
- Unreadably Fast Text: The movie is full of these from beginning to end, but no more so than at the Wizard Run sequence, which contains what amounts to Mike Jittlov's personal manifesto about the power of the creative spirit, elucidated one frame and sentence at a time.
- Weird Trade Union: The unions/guilds of Hollywood, from the confusingly convoluted Camera union to the goofy Animation union, complete with an "a-hyuk!". Either way, there's no way that Jittlov could even try to join these unions unless he wants to go crazy.
- In addition, each union representative is played by the same guy standing in the same place, with the differences in their appearance caused entirely by different costumes and camera angles.
- What Do You Mean, It Wasn't Made on Drugs?: In-Universe example when Bookman asks, "What do you think these guys were on when they made this? Wizard of Speed!"
- When All You Have Is a Hammer...: Without his car or his bike, all that Jittlov has to travel to the studio with his film is a modified motion control rig used previously in the film (looks like a briefcase).
- Writing Around Trademarks: "Happy Birthday To You" was still copyrighted back in 1989, so composer John Massari wrote a Suspiciously Similar Song titled "Merry Birthday to You".