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Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Opening Weekend, and Seventeen Years Later

The new releases come out and the stars sit on the sofa on the TV and someone says something about how good or bad the box office numbers were and we seem to get caught up in thinking it's important.

But what's important is, when home alone and sleepless on a random Tuesday morning at 4am, what film do you choose to watch? When you've had the worst day of your life, what film do you seek out afterwards? When you meet someone new and want to treat them to a DVD what do you buy them?

That's what's important - especially if you write or direct. I mean, if you want to make anything that'll live on after opening weekend: Just create what you HAVE to create. Do it for you, not the box office.

I went to see 'Win, Win', not because of the poster but because the same director made 'The Station Agent' and 'The Visitor'. He made small, profound movies in his own way. They're unique, they're him. That's why he does so well. The films are his own. Kevin Smith used to be like that, then he started doing anything he got offered and he's not relevant as an artist anymore, the fans lost their passion soon after he did. I'll still watch his films, I just don't care like I used too.

When you take the business route, you may get lucky. But then you live and die by the box office. And there are hundreds of journeymen who've been doing it for thirty years who will have an easier time than you. Before you know it you've had one box office hit and one dud, and you're gone.

You don't have to play that game. Instead you can just create what you think works, what turns you on creatively. Stuff that makes life bearable. That's the magic. That's the film you buy for your new girlfriend. Right now I'm listening to an old Wilson Pickett song and earlier on I watched 'Beautiful Girls'. This stuff outlives the soulless stuff.

Art lasts. Business kills you. Don't get excited by the big lights, just do the work that you love.

Care to share?

6 comments:

  1. I'm really surprised no one has commented on this post. There are certain films that I can put on when I have had a horrible day and I know they will make me feel better. The Big Sleep, Before Sunset, Gross Point Blank, the list goes on and on. I know what I write and what I'm interested will not appeal to everyone but I try and stay true to what makes me feel good.

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  2. The lack of response to this post just highlights how flawed Blogger is as a format.

    People like Happy Frog are an honourable exception because the vast majority of bloggers pay scant attention to anyone's writing but there own no matter how interesting and inspiring it might be.

    I was going to share the films that always make me feel better but I stopped and thought, will anyone read this ? and will anyone care?
    Sadly I don't think they will, or maybe I'm just having a bad day ?
    Kid, you deserve better!

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  3. Paul, if you come back and share you films that make you feel better then I for one will certainly read them and I'm sure the Kid would to. Blogging can get pretty tough from time to time but there are always people who care what you have to say. I know I do.

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  4. I hear and agree - ultimately you must do what you need to do and if others get it as well then so much the better. However we all have to pay the bills, but we can still manage to do that while retaining some integrity and dignity.

    I too am a fan of Kevin Smith - although as you so succinctly put it, he seems to have lost his passion. I may have read or heard on one of his prolific podcasts that he was to give up directing in the near future. I gather he intends to prefer the podcast/internet radio route to getting his message (such that it is) out there. He seems to be of the opinion that he has been bluffing his way and is just waiting to get found out.
    I think that what made him successful has also been his undoing - That and the whole social networking phenomenon/curse. I may be going off at a tangent here but it seems that everything has to be reduced down to a sound bite or a 140 character tweet. Facebook used to be a great way of keeping in touch with friends and family around the world, but nowadays it seems full of insignificant people posting insignificant nonsense about where they are and what they are doing - they seem to have their noses stuck into a digital device for so long that surely while they are recording for posterity the last thing they did or saw or thought, they are missing the next half dozen. At the risk of making a gross generalisation, many people don't have the time or inclination to read a blog, let alone write one. They need the fast food equivalent in manageable bite sized chunks. Easily digestible but ultimately bland and unsatisfying.
    The same is true of movies - as audiences seem to have increasingly shortened attention spans, there seems to be a worrying lack of originality in mainstream cinema. Oh I know its there if you go looking for it, but most multiplexes are only interested in bums on seats and popcorn cartons on the floor.

    My taste in film is akin to my taste in music - fashion and trends have nothing to do with either. If I happen to like something that you also like, then good for the both of us, we have something in common, which is nice, but I will continue to like what I like for my own reasons and not because someone says I should.
    I am going to end it there because I can feel the ideas starting to bubble and I feel it better that I sort them into some semblance of order and turn it into a post of my own rather than rambling on in this fashion and hi-jacking your blog as I have done others on occasion. Oh and that post may be some way off or may never see the light of day so don't feel I am self promoting.

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  5. I can think of an example in the South Indian film industry. The director Priyadarshan. When he started making films in the '80s and '90s in Malayalam, his work, pop though it was, was considered pathbreaking. He then moved to "bollywood" and remade all his malayalam movies in Hindi, and the commercial success of his films created this remake monster that churned out one average, overrated film after another.

    Then, he made Kanjivaram. It was not his usual formulaic stuff. It was honest and true and told us a story that we could all relate to.

    Priyadarshan still makes those meaningless, rehashed films from time to time, but Kanjivaram will always redeem him.

    I get that sometimes you need to do something to pay the bills and pay back debts, but don't stop doing what you love because money matter more than what you love. That's just cold.

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