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Saturday, 28 December 2013

Where are the artists?

I think it's important to make art. It's important to write when you have something to say, to paint when there's a feeling you want to express. Art is an exploration, sometimes it's great, sometimes, not so much. 

But that's art. You don't get it right every time. Nor should you. It wouldn't be art if you got it right every time. 

That's the problem with Hollywood, they are so scared of getting it wrong that they spend as much money as they can, making sure they have enough big name actors and enough explosions. They cram the films full of everything that has worked in the past, in the hopes it will work again.

And y'know what, it usually does work again. At least, in a business sense. People like those explosions and they like the predictability. 

That's been the Catch 22 that I've been trying to figure out for quite a few years now -- figuring out where I see myself in an industry that champions uninspired bullshit. 

Not that 'indepedent' or 'art' necessarily means the films will be any better. Bullshit is created in every area of the industry. 

What I realise for me is that 'the industry' is not what I'm interested in, it has never been what I'm interested in. I'm just interested in telling stories, and in seeing other people tell great stories. And if someone can do that in a great movie, I'd love to see it. But equally, if they can achieve that in a two minute YouTube video, then I'm happy watching that too. 

Historically speaking, I would say that I love the cinema. I love what cinema has given us. It gave us Chaplin's tramp, it gave us 'Jaws' and it gave us Forrest Gump. But in recent years, there's been nothing of the kind.

I have been gradually falling out of love with the movies, it's been a slow progression which probably began around the time this blog started, but has really picked up pace in the past year or so and largely accounts for why I've been so quiet here. I've not felt like a 'kid in the front row', I've felt like the cynical guy sitting by the isle, wanting to get up and leave. 

But what I really want, is to stick around. Because my point of view is a valid one. And my point of view is that nothing beats a great piece of cinema, the problem is that it's just SO RARE. What gets a film made is not a great script, or an inspired artist. What gets a film made is marketability, safety, derivative stories. 

It's hard to make art. Even when you're starting out, people say 'how will you market it?', 'how will you make money?', 'how will you attract a star?'. 

Those questions have nothing to do with art. 

Film has always had to strike a balance between art and business, but I don't think there's a balance anymore. Most young filmmakers don't want to be artists. Most actors aren't thinking about what kind of work they're going to put into the world, they just want a job, a role. 

And I get it, we all need to work. But where are the people who have higher goals? The people who are in the industry because they have something to say, and see cinema as the way of saying it? 

And by 'something to say', I don't mean necessarily mean some political statement or life-changing point of view. A romantic comedy can have something to say. The great films say something about us, as humans, about who we are and what we're going through. 

My friend Darren sent me an article from the BBC a few days ago, it's the same one that gets written every year, about how the Hollywood system is in trouble, how the blockbuster paradigm may be dead.  Am I the only one who thinks: GREAT!!!?

Don't get me wrong, I'd hate to see people out of work. All those names you see in the credits of those blockbusters, they're hard-working, unsung heroes, and they deserve to be employed and deserved to get paid what they do, if not more. 

But in terms of the ART. If the blockbusters were no more, I'd be extremely happy. They don't mean ANYTHING. A sea of vapid bullshit that dulls the mind. 

And I know I know I know, there are zillions of people who love this stuff. 

I'm not one of them. 

Films are mostly bad, these days. I know that's what people say with every passing generation, but this time I feel it may actually be true. The great writers have flocked to TV and created their own shows - and future innovators will turn to the web, because that's where they get to make ART. 

Cinema, as an art form, is in trouble. But I have to say; I'm happy about that. This trouble is what might, eventually, save it. 

Care to share?

3 comments:

  1. "Cinema, as an art form, is in trouble. But I have to say; I'm happy about that. This trouble is what might, eventually, save it." That actually made me start crying. Because I am a part of that change, WE are a part of that change. We must keep pushing towards the shore...

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  2. I love this blog. Have to say, as a producer of indie films in Spain I totally agree with this post. It is really hard to make the movie, finance it, without having to explain how the ROI will work or why anyone should invest on it. The crazy thing... they won't even read the script... the market wants everything chewed... then it takes over 2 years to get funding.. I feel the same way, I just like good stories, like FOREST GUMP. That's the reason I became a PRODUCER

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  3. I love this site and the honesty in this post. I have to admit, I'm one of the people that blindly watches most of the big budget releases, but I also seek the smaller, more creative films. I love anything that resonates with me on an emotional level or changes my view or inspires me.

    I'm as amazed by what special effects can do as I am by a twist that I can't predict, but there has been a lot of crap out lately. I feel that the more creative pieces are worth searching for and do get spread around but will never get the audiences they truly deserve.

    Even if you continue to fall out of love with movies, keep writing and creating. Your work inspires those of us that want to make unique things. Your words get us to look at these things in a different light. You can blog about what you do and don't like or whatever, but it will be an even greater loss if you stop altogether.

    I'll have to go watch a bunch of shitty movies and have no one to turn me onto Adventureland and Billy Wilder movies. Both of these are things I'd never consider giving a watch before reading this site.

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