Monday Prescription – Is it harder for the 21st century creative?

Hi Film Folk!

Happy Monday Prescription day and we hope you had a marvellous weekend (and Thanksgiving to our American cousins!)

This week The Film Doctor Team have decided to study the time that we live in and whether our current entertainment/technological situation is a plus or a minus. So many people say it’s harder to succeed nowadays and so many say it’s in fact easier than ever before  – but which is it?

We, obviously, can not tell you all the answers. We are not Gods. We can tell you the right attitude to have and the simple processes required to navigate these current waters. We’ve split this article into the technological advances in Producing, in Getting it out there and finish with Some Quotes from modern day film legends.






TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANCE – PRODUCING

Get good

Making things is easier now – they say. Just pick up a camera and go out and do it – they say. This is true, to a degree, but it bypasses one incredibly important stage that perhaps was more sturdily in place when camera access was more thin on the ground – getting good.

Whether you learn with stills photography or writing before picking up a Super8 or HD video camera or iPhone, you must study what makes arresting images, dialogue and story. Hear that? Arresting. The person can not move because they are locked into your entertainment. When will you know? Be patient, grasshopper. But trust us, you’ll know. You can feel it. It’s not the feeling of confidence. It’s the feeling of satisfaction. Of knowing you know what’s good (to you) and what you have to do to have a finished product.

Make it

OK. So you’ve got good. Now you’ve got to use what you know about technology – its costs etc – and what you know about craft and create something that is achievable within your given circumstances (the people you know, the locations you have, the money you can raise). This is how hundreds of beginners do it. This is how hundreds of producers continue to put out a slate every year and stay afloat.

No? If you absolutely can not organise what you need to organise with your circumstances then change your circumstances. It may take longer but, providing the desired change is reasonable, it may be the best option.

Another option? Innovate. Find different ways of telling the same story. Would it suit a handheld style? No? Then does it have to be in 55 locations? Can it be told via phone calls from 3 locations and still stay visually/emotionally interesting?



FIND WAYS. It isn’t any harder or easier. It’s up to you to find solutions and that’s what you don’t like about it!

Innovative techniques for making high quality product at a fraction of the usual cost is nothing new – it’s been going on since the beginning of time. How they get out there is a whole different ball game….

TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANCE – SHOWING THEM WHAT YOU’VE GOT

We’ve advanced so far in the last 100 years. Cameras and computers and editing software are all much more accessible. Exhibition is no longer limited to cinemas. But has this cheapened the value of entertainment? The 100s of available channels via Satellite/Cable have certainly spawned some questionable programming for TV. But they also cater for specific tastes – otherwise they wouldn’t exist. Taste is now the order of the day. We may cry about it. Producers and directors and exhibitors and distributors and sales agents may cry about it but there are one bunch who won’t – the audience. Never before was the saying ‘the customer is always right’ more appropriate. As much derided as kingpin business owners can be – they bend over backwards for their customers because that’s what shifts units, that’s what puts them where they are.

If you dream of the big screen then you better start writing/directing/producing films that demand to be shown on them – big genre films that leap from the screen. If you have inflexible tastes/standards and reaching the audience of your film is more important to you then find that audience – and however they consume your entertainment/art then, well, deliver it to them that way. You might find the statistics hard to track down but film exhibitors and broadcasters are very much demonstrating what will and won’t play where and when – study their programming. Your film might just happen to be a small indie type of film that has a small indie release. There’s nothing wrong with that. Find out the size of the budgets your type of films are made with, where/how they are distributed, who they are distributed to. Study success stories and failures within your genres/styles and see how you can maximise your audience and your returns.

Thanks to digital, films often aren’t film anymore. What cinema IS has changed. As Sarah Calderon from The Film Agency in Spain recently said on an industry panel ‘Are we in the business of cinemas or content delivery?’

See our previous post – Getting Your Film Seen – Alternatives to Theatrical Distribution.

SOME QUOTES ON MODERN DAY FILMMAKING

“I find that really distressing. In America (during a film) they eat and go for a piss and talk the whole time, and it’s got something to do with the fact that there’s no interaction between them and the screen any more. I’ve been struggling the last couple of years to find different narrative forms.”

Mike Figgis.

“The landscape has changed so totally. Even though you can carry your camera around on your cellphone I don’t think it’s a question of access. I managed to shoot my films in 16mm with no money. I got my friends to work it, and what we made managed to walk and talk like a movie. There was a time when only aristocrats could read and write, but now everyone can write a letter or an email – but can they write a novel? The answer is no, they can’t, because it’s really hard. Accessibility doesn’t make art easier…”

Read David Cronenberg’s Ideastap interview here.

Some words from Sam Raimi, Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino:

Monday Prescription No. 40 – Don’t dwell on circumstances. They only stop you/help you if you let them. Focus on creating high quality material and make your circumstances work for you.

 
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Have a great week!
 
The Film Doctor Team
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