A Little Thought...

I've grown tired of people who fawn over filmmakers.

Pretty general statement, there. I myself am quite guilty.

But it dawned on me as I was reading a certain blog about the "next great American filmmaker" how clueless the majority of armchair cinephiles about art and the filmmaking process.

Making good films isn't about "creating art", like some Impressionist painter on a hillside. It's about waging war on that Void you need to fill. It's about dealing with setbacks. It's about kissing asses. It's about pretending to know what you're doing when you don't.

It's about being a politician, accountant, therapist, mechanic, and day laborer all in one.

Great films aren't "made". They happen. As much as you have a vision, as much as you plan ahead, it all comes down to the actual Happening of capturing an image and arranging it.

So when I hear an intellectual rhapsodizing over Cassavettes' art, as if he created Faces while musing at a cocktail party, I really, really want to set them straight.

Because the film world, intentions mean shit. All that matters is pulling it off.

Famous Brainstorming

Here's a nifty artifact showing the creative process for a very well known movie:

Mystery Man links to the transcript of George Lucas, Steven Spielberg and Lawrence Kasdan's story conference for Raiders of the Lost Ark. It's over 120 pages long.

Reading the summary and skimming the transcript, it's clear that these guys aren't slackers in any sense (even if they were the "Movie Brats"). Lucas' overall vision was incredibly well-thought out, and its a testament to these men's talent in how fluidly they generate and consider ideas.

Amazing that this sees the light of day.


The Geography of Everywhere

"How in the face of all moving and intermixing, can be retain any sense of place?" - Doreen Massey

"Place" has become something strange in the film industry-- every sucessful film must pertain to and somehow make money off of someone in everyplace, the result of a globalized economy that depends as much on dollars from Russia and China as from New York or Idaho.

A blockbuster has to achieve some sense of universiality: the stuff that puts butts in seats everywhere. Violence, sex, action that doesn't require any particular enculturation to understand. Essentially, movies that appeal to the average 6-year old boy.

That's all fine and dandy-- many of us are 6-year old boys at heart. "Big, dumb, loud" movies should be made as long as an audience appreciates them.

But what if you want something with more of a sense of place? A film that may not speak to the Czech Republic, but could sell tickets in New Orleans?

Movie capital comes from India, the UAE. It's been removed from its place of origin and tossed into a global system, where product must meet everyone's needs... and ultimately no one's.

Because really: when was the last time a recent blockbuster changed your life? (Yeah, I know about the TDK, but I mean, really seemed to speak to you personally?)


Future Thoughts

I wrote a while back about the "collapsing" film industry, and what can be done about it. But I didn't really go into the alternatives that would keep such a doomsday from occurring:

The New Media.

Everybody loves YouTube and Hulu, even if almost all of the content on the former is pure, unfiltered junk. The questions here involve what sort of revenue system is viable, and when truly great content is available.

Let's face it-- there's been no Birth of the Nation to send online media into the stratosphere. Of course there are the viral videos, but they don't have that blockbustery attribute of making most people want to re-watch them.

Nor are they exactly raking in the dollars.

New media takes care of distribution needs, but marketing is still a sort of challenge. Getting blogged about and e-mailed generates good word of mouth, but if some brilliant kid from Wyoming uploads the next Citizen Kane onto YouTube without promotion, it's gonna be a long time before anyone discovers it.

There's also the question of what sort of aesthetic quality users/the audience accepts. The glossy 35mm look is still dominant in the cinema world, but a bargain-basement webcam is fine for vlogs and other ephemeral online video.

I think as time goes on, audiences will be more willing to accept media that defies genre expectations for appearance-- which could allow for popular feature length films to be made on $300 budgets, and 1080/24p video diary entries.

Yay for cross-pollination.


Spring Break updates

Quite a lag, huh? I'll be back with some original content shortly. Here's a quick update of what happened on the personal project front:

  • I started writing the brand-new version of my feature length. I'm on page 12. Heh. Luckily I know where I'm going with it all, I just don't have the time/energy to do it.
  • I rewrote Dysart. It's subtler (and perhaps moodier) than it's ever been, and I'm quite satisfied. I'll go into more details as time goes on/I share it with my professor.
  • I gave a call to Asymmetrical Productions out in LA. Yes. That is David Lynch's ProdCo. Left a message on the answering machine, giving my name, number, and status. I let them know that I was interested in helping them with any needs they had.
Lame. But you gotta start somewhere. Right?

More on career stuff to follow.


A Deconstruction of "300"

And now... for those of who like to take things critically:

Frank Miller's "300" and the Persistence of Accepted Racism