The Wizard of Speed and Time (1988)


USA. 1988.


Director/Screenplay/All Special Effects/Production Design – Mike Jittlov, Producers – Deven Chierighino, Mike Jittlov & Richard Kaye, Photography – Russell Carpenter, Music – John Massari. Production Company – Shapiro-Glickenhaus Entertainment/Jittlov Kaye Productions/Rochambreau Productions


Mike Jittlov (Himself), Richard Kaye (Harvey Bookman), Paige Moore (Cindy Lite), Steve Brodie (Lucky Straeker), David Conrad (Brian Lucas), Frank LaLoggia (American Thug), Gary Schwartz (Canadian Thug), John Massari (Steve Shokastovich), Philip Michael Thomas (Mickey Polanko), Lynda Aldon (Minnie Smith)


Producer Harvey Bookman is ordered to make a special effects special for tv. He and director Lucky Straeker are impressed by a demo reel by filmmaker Mike Jittlov. Bookman is contemptuous of Jittlov but Straeker believes in him – so they bet their fee for the show ($25,000) that Jittlov cannot do the job. Bookman then asks Jittlov to do the most complex special effects possible within a three-week deadline. Jittlov presses on, despite everything stacked against him, including not belonging to Hollywood unions and Bookman upping the challenge. When he looks like succeeding, Bookman hires two thugs to make sure that he fails.

The Wizard of Speed and Time is the ultimate Bolex-in-the-backyard, Cinefex buff’s dream. It is a virtual one-man show for director, writer, designer, effects man and actor Mike Jittlov. Jittlov first demonstrated his homemade special effects wizardry in various shorts that aired on the Disney Channel in the early 1980s and created the green-suited Wizard of Speed and Time for a special, The Wizard of Speed and Time (1979). The character became embedded in fan memory, largely due to Jittlov’s numerous convention appearances as the character. Jittlov then brought the character to life in this film.

The film displays an extraordinary degree of inventivity on Mike Jittlov’s part – from the tiny little stop-motion robots that putter about his kitchen to the stop-action chase sequences and hand-drawn animation to the flights into orbit and car chases aboard a motorized briefcases. Jittlov is someone with a rare love of what they do, which clearly shows up in the wondrousness and the attention to minutiae in the final product on screen.

Unfortunately considered as anything more than an effects reel, The Wizard of Speed and Time is fairly amateurish. Jittlov’s actors are clearly non-professionals. As a director, Jittlov’s non-effects sequences are weak. When he tries to add humour to the film, he hits a moronic slapstick level – the scenes with the two fake cops running about are agonising. The film lacks a story and you could make of it the same criticism that can be applied to cynical big budget films – that they substitute effects for the creation of any genuine sense of wonder. Mostly, the film acts as a wish fulfillment for Jittlov’s – it seems to represent a frustrated amateur filmmaker’s rather mild thumbing of his nose against the commercial Hollywood establishment. The satiric bent vented on union regulations and sharkish producers does seem to represent some genuine vitriol on Mike Jittlov’s part. He has a grandiloquent line wherein he expresses his dream: “This is how movies should be made – no studio hassles, everything’s ready, just get together and film. I mean who needs a soundstage, we’re making movies by starlight.” Jittlov rather flatteringly casts himself as the nice guy schmuck taken advantage of where the earnestnestness of his creative vision eventually wins through, which seems a little egotistical of him. However, the theme is too one-note to be more than mild amusement.

The Wizard of Speed and Time developed a small cult on video, although Mike Jittlov has failed to produce anything or appear in any other work since. One would have thought that the 1990s growth of effects houses and technology might have found a welcoming place for Jittlov’s love of effects.

Full film available online here:-

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