Thursday, April 13, 2006

Of things of Past & present



I just read an interview by Jeremiah Kipp over at the blog The House Next Store, and I kind of get what Godfrey Cheshire is saying about today's world of film & filmmaking. Cheshire wrote a compelling two-part essay called the "The Death of Film: The Decay of Cinema" way back in 1999. The article was written in response to digital video's emergence. It's a good essay, and one you should check out, but the recent interview with Cheshire has me excited. You see having been taught the old way of doing things and coming from a film background I was a bit skeptical about digital video, and it's look. I thought it was an inferior technology, and one that would breed bad films that would look cheap and just plain look bad up on the screen. After all isn't it video? But we've come a long way baby, and the DV technology is fueling the DVD revolution, and what we are seeing is an increase in production of all sorts of films. From documentaries to features more films are being made now then there are distribution outlets to show them. Yet I'm getting ahead of myself here, and need to backtrack for a moment.

Yes there are plenty of films out there, and like always there is plenty of crap out there as well. Just because it can be made doesn't mean it should. Digital video makes things affordable, and we are seeing an abundance of films that run the gamut of genre's, and even dare to make up genre's for themselves. I've belabored the phrase "niche filmmaking" to death here in this blog, but what we are seeing is a diverse amount of films being made in many different genres. Slowly it is the audience that will have the ultimate say in whether a film is successful or not. Sure you're saying wasn't it always like that? And you'd be partly right, but instead of having distributors vying for your money we now have the actual filmmakers vying for your attention. It's gotten easy to do so, and yet it is one of the most difficult things to do now. One must have enough money, and enough contacts to launch a film by ones-self. The clutter is astounding, and getting through the clutter takes skill, and a certain amount of tenacity. That's why I posted a picture of Roger Cormen. If one filmmaker knows how to exploit, and get through to ones audience it is Cormen. Though Cormen worked in a different era then we do now the same rules do apply to today's filmmakers as they did to filmmakers in the past. Only now it's getting personal, and harder to attract attention to oneself, and breakout of that niche one creates. After all for a film to be successful one needs to break out of that market one creates for ones-self, and get a little , dare I say, more mainstream. The old phrase "will it play in Peoria?" is still valid.

In Kipp's article Cheshire goes on to say that the Internet has incorporated a lot of how we regard television. It's immediate, and there. Also in the past few days I've seen a couple of films that I'm thoroughly impressed by. Not like the junk that seems to be flowing through Hollywood these days. I kind of liken this market to coffee & cream. The good will always surface to the top no matter what. It just takes tenacity on the part of the filmmaker, and one must be persistent.

These are exciting times to be a filmmaker. One can ignore the present day market, and give up, or one can embrace it, and work with it. I believe a more personal filmmaking era is going to happen, and people who are passionate about one thing or the other will begin to make films. When passionate people begin making films that THEY care about the audience, which is us, can only benefit from this. These are the beginnings of a new era in filmmaking, and I for one want to embrace it. I'm excited how about you?

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