Sep 16, 2008

Independent, Indeshmendent

I've been spending the past two days (and will spend the next two) attending a most depressing Independent Filmmaker Conference. To judge from the grayness and dullness of the proceedings, the state of independent film is moribund, if not dead, decomposed and decaying.
Just to give you an idea, the celebrity keynote speaker was Kevin Smith, from Clerks and Mallrats fame.
He is a very funny (and deeply raunchy) man in conversation but jeez, if he is the role model of my peers, we are all in deep fucking trouble.
I have made a short film myself, so I should not be saying this, but now everybody and their bubbe is making films. This is not a good thing, no matter what the harbingers of tomorrow try to get you excited about. The technological conditions are there for virtually every man, woman and child in this planet to become an auteur and show their oeuvre in You Tube. This is not a good thing. Remember when films where the exclusive province of the proficient? Not everybody could be a John Ford or an Alfred Hitchcock. Nobody is. But now everybody tries. The glut, the noise, the irrelevance, the needless anxiety. It's like screaming in a wind tunnel.
And when things couldn't possible get scarier, you start hearing about rights and lawyers and deals and rapacious behavior from one and all.
Movies are dying; young people don't care for watching a film on a big screen in the dark in the company of an audience when they can see it directly from their contact lens. Now everybody talks about "content" for mobile phones, computers, screens the size of dust mites. I cannot begin to tell you how truly demoralizing and depressing this is to me. The word "content" offends me. Movies are not content. They are an art form. Stories. Entertainment. Content is what's inside a can of peas.
Paradoxically, this lilliputian trend is just as noxious as the proliferation of the costly humongous obscenities made in Hollywood. The middle ground, where the potential remains for the preservation of film as an art form is getting massacred.
Art should be enjoyed by all, not made by all. So I'm a snob, and proud of it. So sue me.
There was this filmmaker today who sounded more like a corporate marketing manager than an artist, and he was expounding about finding your audience through the web and having the audience collaborate with you on your projects. I don't know if that means having your audience give you cash for your films or what, but I in no way, shape or form want the audience to collaborate with me in the making of a movie. You might as well send me to hell and throw away the key. The audience can feel free to collaborate when they buy their ticket and wait for the lights to go down. Or when they turn on their computer and eventually find my little film on their screens.
There are scores of demented independent filmmakers scrambling to find financing for their projects.
I look at them and I think no way in hell am I going to be running around like a headless chicken looking for someone to give me money for my "project". My fantasy is I write a decent script and hopefully I sell it. Then I write another one. Then one day, someone lets me direct one of my scripts.
I have already financed my short on my own and whatever happens to me next in the wonderful world of filmmaking, somebody better be paying me to do it. That's how I see it, and if it ain't possible, then I can kiss my Wellesian dreams goodbye.

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