“The Shining” as a romantic comedy and other clever mock-trailers

By on August 29, 2015

“Meet Jack Torrance. He’s a writer looking for inspiration. Meet Danny. He’s a kid looking for a dad.” Ten years ago, Robert Ryang’s clever re-imagining of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining as a rom-com — to Peter Gabriel’snostalgically bouyant “Solisbury Hill” — won the AICE Trailer Park competition in New York, and soon thereafter, this Youtube clip ended up on iFilm.com before it went on to become an internet phenomenon practically overnight. We’re taking a look back at “Shining” today.

The AICE (Association of Independent Creative Editors) contest had asked for new mock-trailers to be chosen from among six films they suggested, putting them into different genres, and Ryang — who was just 25 and working as an editing assistant on TV commercials at PS260, a Manhattan-based film company that specializes in commercial post-production — had put such an interesting spin on the psychological horror film The Shining that he won the contest.

At the time he said the trailer struck a chord because it “mocked how formulaic Hollywood movies are,” which is probably more accurately framed as a criticism of how misleading and formulaic most Hollywood trailers are rather than the films, but some are pretty formulaic, we admit, and deserve to be spoofed.

Ryang ended up receiving hundreds of emails, and even got a surprisingly encouraging phone call from a VP at Warner Brothers film company, who own the rights to the film, which stars Jack Nicholson; the VP said if Ryang ever had any creative ideas of his own, he should get in touch.

He was also warned by Sandy Bresler, an agent for Jack Nicholson and a bit of a killjoy if you ask us, that Warner Home Video might not find the spoof amusing as Ryang was using the original footage without permission (it was obviously a different time ten years ago, when the first concern on everybody’s mind seemed to be the legal issues of using someone else’s content without permission).

Meanwhile, Ryang — who grew up in Camarillo, Calif., midway between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, attending Columbia College in New York, where one of his edits played on a loop on Columbia’s CTV — continued working at PS260, where he had quickly climbed the ladder in six months from runner to editing small projects (including a New York Knicks commercial shot by Spike Lee).

His mock trailer ended up being so successful and talked about and written about, however, that he ended up being pursued by the CAA, ICM and Paradigm talent agencies as a client.

Ryang decided to attend Columbia for its diversity of educational opportunities and the character of the institution. He had an interest in film as a career when he entered the College in 1998, though he also considered a future in forensic psychology. While nurturing both interests as an undergraduate, Ryang also was a disc jockey for Barnard College radio (WBAR); drew comics for Spectator; did film projects, one of which was played on loop on CTV; and was a mentor in Harlem.

Things were moving along pretty well until IFC’s Independent Spirit Awards hired him to spoof trailers for its televised ceremony in March 2006. Among other spoofs, Ryang had turned Universal’s The Fast and the Furious into a genre-bending homoerotic drama called “The Fast and the Curious,” and he also made a spoof trailer for David Lynch’s Blue Velvet as a wacky comedy called “Something Blue,” which features Kyle McLachlan ranting to Laura Dern about her impossible father.

Lynch and Universal both refused to allow the spoofs to air on IFC’s award show, but you can watch them both right here:

Ryang’s mock trailers inspired literally thousands of others who have done their own clever genre-bending spins on movies, like this one for Good Will Hunting, re-titled “Good Will Hunted,” in which Matt Damon’s title character becomes the target of a government assassination plot, and another one that mashes up Brokeback Mountain and Back To The Future, for a new movie called Brokeback To The Future, convincingly splicing the homosexual-themed cowboy buddy movie with Michael J. Fox’s time-travel comedy.

About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.