Doing Things the ’Metal-Way’ | Script Revolution

Doing Things the ’Metal-Way’


Those of you who know me personally will know I'm a huge metal-head, and those of you that know me artistically will know I'm all about gritty filmmaking. Tone, genre, texture, voice, whatever you want to call it tends to be the one thing that ties all our writing together, but it's easy to lose track if you fall into the trap of trying to please the masses. In this article, Ville Nummenpää does a great job of explaining how some projects have a dark soul while others feel a bit too plastic - CJ 

Music can elevate your soul. Sometimes a song can take you places you didn’t know existed. That place is not always pretty or safe, and this is exactly the rush many music lovers are chasing.

Sometimes a song reaches the point where something unexplainable happens. Your emotions get the better of you, and you feel your foundations thoroughly shaking. As strange as it is, this is the point when someone else says: ”Turn it down!”

For someone who is actively chasing emotions, this does not compute? Turn down, when you’re supposed to crank it up? An artist has done their best to rock your world, and you make a conscious decision to avoid being rocked at all costs?

In other words: ”I don’t like where this is going, I’m starting to feel things”.

There are people out there who actively guard themselves against emotions. This protection applies to other arts as well, not just music. Some go after a different experience, something safe and familiar. There is nothing wrong with this, but I’ll tell you what it isn’t. It’s not ’metal’.

What is this ’metal’-nonsense you may have heard of? Difficult to explain to infidels, but we can try. It’s not a macho-thing, where ”I’m more bad-ass than you”. It’s not really about rebellion, or disrespect to the ’norms’ as people often say. Metal fans don’t even worship Satan as much as you’d think.

But it has a lot to do with not being afraid to venture off the beaten path. Finding beauty in ugliness, being captivated by something that logically should not be appealing at all. Metal might not make sense, but it most definitely is not ’nonsense’.

When people are asked what kind of music they like, alarmingly many say they’re omnivorous when it comes to music. ”I listen to what ever they play on the radio”.

You go, person. But why would you do that?

When you turn on the radio, you will hear a musical piece that basically ’is’. Its function is to replace silence with something harmless for three minutes. That piece won’t bring you to tears, raise a single hair on your arms, or make you get up from your chair pounding your fist in the air. Should any of the above reactions take place, you would soon find someone else in the room demanding the volume to be turned down.

Following this logic, many people in the music industry are hell bent on protecting audiences from feeling emotions, and so are many people in movies and TV.

Look, we get it. Since there are people out there in the audience who ”watch whatever is on”, their needs need to be catered. And if they watch anything, it probably makes no sense to go through any extra effort producing the content. This is why TV is what it is, and radio is what it is. You have to take out your wallet to find content with substance.

But for anyone, who knows which number the dial is supposed to be set (11), the idea of downplaying, watering down, hitting the brakes when you’re supposed to hit the gas is unfathomable.

Let’s explore the word ’metal’ in a way it stands for something. Not destroying your eardrums, but something where things are done with certain attitude. In a ”Forget the rulebook, all in, more is more”-sort of manner. Movies and TV can be metal, without one note of metal music.

See if you agree:

Game of Thrones – Metal

The Bold and the Beautiful – Not metal

With me so far? The other one is balls-out (sometimes literally), hardcore, edgy and uncompromising. The other one... is not. Deliberately polar examples to kick this off, as you see, we are not talking about music per se (but it is fitting to see metal musicians cameoing in GoT).

More examples? How about:

Fight Club – Metal

XXX – Not metal

The other one is harsh, brutal, full of surprises, and simply doesn’t ask permission to do what it does. The other one may contain punches, but still does not pack one.

”But c’mon, Vin Diesel and Rammstein in the same movie! Isn’t XXX the very definition of metal?”, you ask. No, it’s pretty tame. Playing metal in your movie doesn’t make your movie metal.

Not even all metal is metal, which is a profound statement that makes complete sense if you’re metal. In the metal-world, trying to appear metal without truly delivering the goods is known as ’posing’.

What about sports in cinema?

Slap Shot – Metal

The Mighty Ducks – Not metal

You must be getting it by now. The other one plays against expectations and literally pulls no punches. So metal. The other one plays it safe, and by the book.

What about a chick-show vs. a dude-series?

Orange is the New Black – Metal

Sons of Anarchy – Not metal

Orange doesn’t talk down to you. It never shies away from an issue, and things rarely play out like you’d expect them to. It defies all preconceived notions about dramaturgy and despite no character is likable, you end up loving them. SoA sounds all metal on the surface, but somehow is not? For starters, the show is about a criminal biker gang who don’t use the word ’fuck’. It’s not bad, but it’s surprisingly un-metal.

If you’re still reading, you are ready for something completely different. Something not usually associated with metal – Romcoms.

My Best Friend’s Wedding – Not metal

How I Met Your Mother – Metal

You read that right. HIMYM bends the format and pushes the limits. The characters get drunk, high, watch porn, get into fights, etc. When it comes to writing, they keep raising the bar as we go. There is so much you can do within the frames of a sitcom, just don’t do everything like everybody else. A single episode can contain more content than an entire season of a more generic sitcom. That’s metal. MBFW on the other hand, is exactly what you’d expect.

What about musicals? Isn’t that the most un-metal genre in the world? Well, not necessarily.

Mamma Mia – Not metal

Grease – Metal

A musical is supposed to grab you by the (insert a body part of choice, preferrably in plural) and lift you up. Get you riled up, stirred up, physically involved. An awesome musical can be a treat for many senses, over-abundance of everything is so-very-metal. Other examples of ’metal’-musicals (that have nothing to do with metal music) :

Moulin Rouge

La La Land

South Park : Bigger, Longer, Uncut

We could go on. Some of the titles in this article took an approach where the audience is deliberately served something predictable and non-threatening. The idea is not to shake you up, but to make you feel safe. Fine, why not.

The ’metal’ approach is the opposite of that. It’s an attempt to make you feel things. And having done so, many attempts have gotten staggeringly popular.

But wait, the non-metal examples are also very popular, you say? Yes, in a similar way McDonald’s is also very popular. It’s no secret why, it goes down easily. And to repeat, it’s fine, there’s a time and a place. But sometimes you have a meal you remember for a long time, and a Big Mac is most likely not one.

Not everything has to be metal, duh. But remember, there’s beauty in ugliness. Much like a dark, scary forest can be fascinating, or a run-down house can have an unexplainable charm to it.

A song may sound uninviting and ugly on the surface, and at the same time feel so good. Replace the word ’song’ with any other piece of art, and the same applies.

Making some noise can lift you high up. That piece of art that sounds like meaningless garbage to some, comes from a state of mind that transmits to the listener. It’s an unabashed attitude, where no corners are cut, no topic is a taboo, no emotion is hidden, and no punches are pulled. A highly recommended attitude for all artists everywhere, regardless of the medium or genre.

(The word ’metal’ appears in this article 42 times, which is sheer overkill. But that’s metal. And now it’s 43.)

About The Author

Ville Nummenpää's picture
Real name: 

I'm a screenwriter and a novelist. Three official credits on IMDB (There should be a couple more, who knows who updates them?). I have one 12-ep. TV-series to my name, two stage plays, five books (three for kids, two for grown-ups), and various stints here and there. Episode here, a few sketches there, short movies and short stories, etc.

I do comedy, cause I'm not funny. But why stop there? I also want to do horror, action, science fiction... in one word, entertainment.

I live...Read more



Robert Bruinewoud's picture