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Monday, 18 October 2010

Frustration

I'm tired, tired of being passionate about the cinema. I want to be like my heroes, who speak of hiding away in cinemas and loving every minute of it. That is not my experience. My experience is usually one of disappointment. When I see something like 'The Social Network' or 'Juno' on the big screen, it's pure bliss; but in between, it's disappointment and frustration.

I keep thinking other people will be tired too. Tired of 'big' movies, tired of predictable storylines and stereotyped characters - but that isn't my experience. And this isn't pretentiousness; I don't want everyone making and watching 'artsy' films, I just feel we, as an industry and as viewers, set the barometer extremely low when it comes to quality.

It saddens me that film podcasts talk about how a film has a 'cool' marketing campaign, or that young screenwriters are driving themselves crazy trying to write a 'hot' screenplay. This is not why I love movies; but, I find it hard to grasp the general public and the way they approach movies. People are short changed, every time - but they seem happy to watch a film with a bigger explosion --it gives you two hours of distraction-- but what about afterwards? The films that truly excite people are the ones where fifteen years later you're still saying "Stupid is as stupid does" and eighty years later you're watching clips of 'City Lights' on YouTube because you're amazed by how funny Chaplin is. But so few people are being the best they can be; they're chasing a script sale, or fame, or trying write something purely to be controversial.

I'm frustrated because there is unlimited potential in how good we can be, as writers, directors, actors and everything in between. When we use truth, honesty, humor, and passion -- when we write controversial things not to be controversial but to challenge people to see things a little differently; that's when we're at our best. Yet most people aren't even trying. You meet a writer and they say "Im doing a horror script and a film about a guy who likes comics and I'm doing a superman-meets-godfather drama" - what does that mean? Nothing! Why aren't people writing things that matter? That inspire? The reason, in part, is that the industry doesn't support it. But it's a cycle that we play a part in every time we write the same old shit, or try to come up with something that's 'in.'

I'm tired. I feel like my 'passionate' side and my 'pissed off and frustrated' side are constantly smashing into each other. It's time to choose one. I choose art. I choose writing things that matter. I choose writing for the guy in the front row who wants to see a good story, I want to write for the girl at the end of the isle who's about to walk out because the films don't have the soul they had in 1960.

I understand all the screenwriting books and script guru's, and I understand they have to keep sharing their messages because it's how they make a living, but writing is not about rules and principles; it's not even about words --- it's about the life inbetween. Most writing fails because it suffocates that life, it doesn't recognize it and it doesn't have a chance to grow.

There is room for the next generation of incredible screenwriters. I'm not talking about a writer who gets rich making a smash hit; but the next Woody, the next Ephron, the next Kaufman.


Care to share?

6 comments:

  1. I think, on the flip-side, people are becoming more aware of the business-side to filmmaking... rather than the artistic intergrity a filmmaking may - or may not - stand for.

    I don't think its bad to understand the pluses and minuses of a marketing campaign - I love the idea that some poster are more interesting and artistic than work seen in an art gallery.

    Then again, I think people have to be a little more picky... whats clearly good and whats not.

    The latest rom-com, superhero film and action movie is genre-laden, by-the-numbers filmmaking... it fits the 'film-for-entertainment-only' bracket. No challenge, no inspiration and no personal connection to the audience. Its a shame these film makes more money than the smaller indie films with more heart.

    I think, if you read the right stuff - I won't name magazines, but some celebrate art moreso than others - you can find out about the gems. Having just come back from watching LITTLE WHITE LIES at London Film Festival 2010, I can tell you, these gems are there ... you just have to hunt them out ...

    Simon

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  2. Hey Kid. Send you a hug. Hang in there!

    I'm trying to write about the way we get the cinema we deserve, & how important it is to support the gifted writers and directors whose work comes from the heart, like Afia Nathaniel (http://www.neithertheveilnorthefourwalls.com/) and Campbell X (http://www.indiegogo.com/StudLifeMovie), both currently trying to raise money to tell their stories.

    No surprise that these are both women. I think that if we can raise the percentage of movies written and directed by women from 10% to 50%, cinema will be transformed. And you'll be happier!

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  3. I'm sorry you're so tired, will send you an e-mail later this evening.

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  4. "I just feel we, as an industry and as viewers, set the barometer extremely low when it comes to quality."

    "But so few people are being the best they can be..."

    I agree, but perhaps not for the same reasons: "Genius is an accident; mediocrity is a fact." -- James Madison

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  5. If it's any consolation, the foreign film market is churning out quality blockbusters.

    But isn't everything today about business? Books and music and movies and everything. It's impossible to get anything out without a sex scene or an explosion or a conspiracy attached.

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