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Sunday, November 20, 2005

The Burden Of Dreams

Rule #1: Never use your own money. That rule applies to all endeavors financial. And filmmaking. What are rules made for, class? There has been a long line of filmmakers who have had careers launched from the fruits of their labor along with their credit cards but at what cost? What about the thousands of others who have reels of negatives or stacks of video tapes in their closets as a cold reminder than no one really cared enough about their vision or opus or whatever you call it?

With the democratization of the process, making a film and launching a career can be done for less but it still needs to be done whether it's $2,000 or $20,000. No matter how you break it down it still costs money and the consequences of a loss are not always financial. The New York Times ran an article yesterday profiling a couple of young filmmakers, Arin Crumley, 24, and his girlfriend, Susan Buice, 27 and their film, Four Eyed Monsters.

The film follows the journey of how they met online and sparked a romance, documenting it as they lived it. I've seen the diary video blogs of the filmmaking journey on My Space and it's truly heartbreaking maybe because it’s so close.

There’s a quote from the article from director Sydney Pollack about his understanding of the modern film industry landscape; "The minute everyone is allowed in, something changes in terms of standards of excellence," he said. "I don't know whether that is good or bad." Standards? Wasn’t the same thing said when rock’n’roll came into the fold? Punk? I can’t think of anything the film industry needs more right now than a shot in the arm. Not another DVD format. Not another iPod. Not another tired remake. What’s needed is some vitality, some vision. Shame on you Sydney.


Blogger Robert Hogan said...

I posted a rant on my blog that took a different stance on what William has said here. I completely see where William is coming from, and I agree with him. My point is that Pollack might not be that off in his concerns about opening the flood gates to every Tom, Dick and Harry who dreams of being a filmmaker. There are a lot of people, such as the creators of Four Eyed Monster, who have been able to bring a fresh and original voice to filmmaking thanks to the advent of high quality digital cameras. But for every fresh and original voice that has benefited from this technology there are a dozen god-awful people that are making things worse by recycling the same garbage we’ve been seeing out of Hollywood for the last twenties years, but with far inferior value.

William made a good point in a comment he left on my blog:

"if no one bought those cameras to make those films the technology that is here now wouldn't be where it is. You can shoot in HD now! Canon, Sony and Panasonic wouldn't have developed new technology if there was no market for it and the market was the independent filmmaker. So when you go out and make your next HD short or feature with all the knowledge you now have thank those poor, untalented filmmakers who provided the capital base to develop new cameras with amazing resolution and color depth."

And it’s true. I would not have been able to make Los Tres Cabrones on the budget that I had if it were not for the DVX100. But without a renting a professional lighting and grip kit, without bringing a talented camera operator, without having a script with an original voice, and without a clear vision of how to bring that script to life I would have been stuck with just another lump of video poop.

I’m not a huge fan of Pollack’s in recent years, but feel that his comments do make a good point. If someone sees a dozen poorly shot, horribly scripted films that were shot on digital cameras they may not even take the time to watch mine for fear that it will be another stinker. Or if someone does see me film and thinks it’s amazing, are the basing their opinion on the merits of my film or on the fact that it is just so much better than the dozen films they watched before mine?

2:35 PM  
Blogger andrew said...

the film is called "Four Eyed Monsters"

"S" at the end as in plural

Great Blog!!

3:36 AM  
Blogger William said...

Robert: I'm always up for a good debate so thanks for directing your comments to this savage art... We could argue the selling points of cameras and technology to death and it really doesn't mean anything. They are tools of the trade and don't let anyone tell you film is better than video or vice versa. It's a moot point. Every film has it's own genetic code and part of that code is the format it is shot in.

It's all subjective. My tastes may not be your tastes. Cool, that's settled. What is really important now is that we are moving in a direction where the consumer and the artists will have more of a direct line to one and other. The distribution models are being discussed in production offices as I write this comment. There will be a day when the filmmaker can upload his/her film and have the consumer download it onto a drive and play it directly on their big fat plasma screen. That will happen. So for the sake of self-preservation for the future why not build your audience now?

Some films will get multi-tier distribution, like what Mark Cuban is doing. Some won't. Personally, the thought of me spending a couple of years of my life making a feature film to play on a cell phone is not appealing to me. It's not something I would be interested in. This is where people would have a choice, theater or download. DVD will probably be dead or so says George. Bottom line is there will always be crap. It can be a $20,000 pile or a $20,000,000 pile.

Two examples to keep in mind when we talk about technology and self-financing. 90% of Collateral was shot using a video source. Granted, it was an extremely advanced camera but I don't think most of the audience who saw it knew that. Would that be considered hack because of the format? Another to ponder, Apocalypse Now was mostly self-financed. Talk about putting your money where your mouth is...

9:33 AM  

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