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Friday, December 02, 2005

Surviving In The Jungle

After my writing workshop last night I shared a 6 train ride downtown with my workshop teacher. While waiting on the platform we got on the subject of films (of course) as a big gorilla stared us down preparing us for his arrival on December 14th. The subjects went from gorillas to the Discovery Channel to The White Diamond to Werner Herzog. Herzog seemed to be the right filmmaker to focus on. With Fitzcarraldo and Aguirre, The Wrath of God being major stops on the foreign film/art house rotation we both agreed that his type of filmmaking is what true filmmaking is, storytelling with images. He is a purist. Take that opinion for what it's worth.

Another thing we agreed upon was that there are a lot of films being made, tons of films, large and small. One of the films he did some script doctoring for comes out today. It's a small film that might get some recognition in the independent world here in New York because of its unflinching portrayal of heroin addiction. It's almost amazing that a film like that could even get made in this climate. What's a filmmaker to do? Well, what kind of filmmaker are we talking about here? This was a labor of love that will have a small draw in certain circles unless it gets a lot of attention outside of those circles. But obviously, it wasn't made so the filmmaker could bathe in the adulation of the masses. It had to get made.

So what is the other side of that coin? The big, fat bag of money waiting on my doorstep after I sign that three picture deal with The Tribeca Twins? Right. In order to survive, filmmakers are selling themselves as brands that produce product. Kevin Smith is a perfect example of this. You know what you are getting with him. Dick jokes, ad nauseam. No apologies from Smith, this is what he does and I can respect that. Go to View Askew and you can buy yourself a Big Ass Silent Bob Inaction Figure (I want my cut from this link mother fucker...snootchie bootchies!)

But there are thousands that you haven't heard of that are taking the same route, advertising by way of branding. They are getting there names out there with websites and blogs (present company included), peddling their t-shirts and action figures (present company excluded). Do what you have to do to survive I guess. Has the quality of films increased because of the efforts of these filmmakers using this approach to have their voices heard or is this just adding to the ever increasing garbage heap of flotsam that we have to wade through to find that quality motion picture?

Coming to the end of our train ride my teacher and I had no real answer not that we were really looking for one. I can say we weren't very satisfied with the state of the industry and the choices that are out there. We just left with a parting look that said, "Welcome to the business of making movies".

Imagine that, dick jokes and Fitzcarraldo all in the same breath. Man, I am one well-rounded son-of-a-bitch.

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