Murder in the Machine Shop

View movie here (.wmv)



Director's Commentary by Marcy LaViollette

When they first put the webcams around campus, I thought of this idea, but I wasn't sure if it was ever going to happen. You know Mudders and how much they whine: "I'm too busy!" People are much more willing to donate their time early in the semester. We had just gotten to school after a long, relaxing summer. I collected my actors one nice sunny day and herded them into the Machine Shop.

We had assumed that the shop would be empty, but our friend and recent graduate, Jake Walker was working on an important project. So we went ahead and filmed with him in the background. We planned the plotline out quickly because our friends already knew our "showtime".

The refresh rate of the camera is only every 5 seconds, so we had Emily stand behind camera and call out, "1...2...3...4...change!" and we'd all switch positions. It was hard to hold some of those positions! The original viewers of this movie watched the webcam live, so the action was much, much slower.

You'll notice that many of the actors involved look differently than they do today. Shamik still had his 'fro and Marcy had just cut her hair to ear length (it's not a hat).

The different appearances are not surprising since this was created back in August of 2000. This was originaly created to be a live performace. However, after we were done, we discovered that our friend Cube had painstakingly captured every screen shot on his computer (the webcams were set up so that you cannot save them directly to prevent stalking.) He promised us that he would create a movie from our work. Time passed. Cube promised me that it would be done before he graduated that Spring. More time passed. This year, Cube promised me that it would be done before I graduate. And here it is, a week before I graduate! :]

Here's the frame by frame action in case you missed anything:

3 (we originally started from 5, but apparently number 4 was lost somewhere)...2...1. "One day an unsuspecting student was working in the machine shop." The student (me) hurts her nail and uses the shop file to file it down. The villain (Eric), comes in and tries to stab me with a screwdriver. We fight for awhile (I've got a large hex wrench). Then he hooks my weapon and flings it away. He grabs me by the hand and takes me to the mill, where he cuts off my hand. (see the hand!) Meanwhile, the hero (Shamik), arrives after hearing my cries of distress, sneaks in and puts tapping oil on the floor. He lures the villain over and causes his to slip on the floor. I call for a medic (see the first aid kit) while the hero laughs. My hand is reattached while the hero still laughs. (We even used fake blood although it's not visible). The villain gets up. The hero tried to use the old Three Stooges "poke 'em in the eye trick" but Eric puts on safety goggles. The hero reels from the pain of hitting the plastic. The villain gets the air hose and blows the hero into a chair. I hit the villain over the head with a wrench. The hero and I put the villain in the chair and tie him up. Ta-da! The machine shop is saved again. We all take a bow and then are joined by our crew. We're all pointing at the phone or at the phone extension number in the front. We ended up getting two phone calls from our viewers!


Hero...Shamik Maitra
Villain...Eric Brown
Student...Marcy LaViollette
Medic...Matt Brubeck
Timer...Emily Cukier
Sign Holder...Zach Walters
Jake...Jake Walker