You can view it here if you would like to read my comments afterwards (better): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gFVgIpWSgIo
I am aware Chaplin didn’t ‘direct’ it according to the official credits (IMDB). But back then it didn’t mean much, all you had to do was push the right button on the camera. However, despite the ‘writing’ credit, I am positive this was his own idea.
What do you want? The man had an instinct for the craft. He knew right away that in order to stand out he would have to toy with the way story and form relate to each other. He would have to wallow in self-reference. I assume this is his first true experiment.
The idea is very simple. There is an event, an auto race. A camera crew is looking to get the best footage from the sidelines. But Chaplin’s ‘Tramp’ character is there, and he keeps getting in front of the camera, posing, wanting to be filmed.
The way he keeps interrupting the cameramen is funny in itself. But the real joke here is the acknowledgement of the camera. That way you can laugh at what he’s doing but also at how it reflects back on the nature of what you’re watching. It is even filmed in front of a real crowd!
What better way to start a carreer in filmmaking than making a film about wanting to be filmed?
This is so funny and so intelligent that If I had seen it in its day, I would have become a filmmaker first thing the next morning.