04-26-2012 03:25 PM #1
A Common Misconception About The Future of Film. A Very Long Rant.
The feeling on the subject that seems to always make itself clear, is that the young guys donít have respect for the old ways. Now, Iím not trying to sound like a mobster, or trying to walk down that clichť road. So, stick with me. Hopefully, by the end this will all makes sense.
Well, I find that to be a sort of statement made by the scared, and honestly, decaying talent. Its not that Iím being cocky or being disrespectful, itís that Iím being honest. To me, itís disrespectful to assume the worst out of anyone before understanding his or her personal logic. You can learn a lot about a person, from how they work, behave, talk, and what they create. But, you donít really understand their logic until youíre face to face with them during a difficult situation. So, again I donít think itís right for the older generation lay on the statement that the younger guys are going to ruin everything.
Now, thatís not to say we young guys canít take some of the blame. Thereís a lot of stuff that weíve done, or help do, thatís done a lot of damage, or created change beyond the point of comfort. Thatís not to say the change is all bad. The internet isnít evil. Itís a tool. Tools arenít really evil. (Okay, the atomic bomb is pure evil, and really is just built to eradicate people. So, okayÖIím kinda wrong. Forgive me.) Anyway, for the base of this ramble, the user makes things evil. But, our generation has stolen, and made available content to people. This is both good and bad. Availability is good. Itís really good. Content can stretch to areas of the world that it couldnít before and at a speed unheard of before the dawn of the internet. Itís amazing. Weíve also have grown up with it, and know its power. The older guys know this stuff too, but itís not a part of them. They might have created it, they might have seen it, but to feel it as though its second hand, and be apart of its evolution is something they arenít privy to. Itís something we will all face at some point. Thereís an era for each of us, and at some moment it passes. You donít know it. You canít really predict it. It just happens. Youíre either on the train, at the station, or getting off. That ticket has an expiration date. The second topic is stealing. Stealing is bad. Very bad. Itís something that grew to great lengths during our time. Iím not trying to preach, merely pulling out a viable point. I admit to piracy. I wonít rationalize it. I stole and continue to steal content. But, without it, I wouldnít have my knowledge of music, films, and various other content. I still try and right my wrongs by buying what Iíve taken. It doesnít justify my acts, but I feel it at least mildly corrects my wrongs. Again, this isnít a morality rantÖ.so, letís move on.
Now, I do fully blame the lack of attention spans on the speedy nature on which we can get information. So, I place this solely on the internet and the rise of the 24 hour News Networks. But, I do think at the end of the day, people still like to slow down for a moment and absorb something. This is why books still exist. People still read surprisingly. Well, not that surprising, seeing that youíre reading this, and that most forms of communication on the internet is still the written word. So, take that naysayers! The only thing the internet has done to the written word has been changing how we receive it. It basically killed pointless print like newspapers and magazines.
Okay, Iím rambling to the point where my message might be hard to take in. At this point, youíre probably wondering what Iím getting at. Where I plan to take you, and why Iíve wasted countless minutes of your lives with points and opinions that are pretty average. Well, the point Iím getting at, is a topic that is near and dear to me. Itís a topic that Iíve been educated in, and currently am trying to make it in. Itís the film industry. Over the course of my time in the industry, Iíve seen the rise and fall of two warring factions, TV and Film.
Modern TV programming has launched to new heights. This was all happening during a time when people thought it was getting worse. It was super sneaky. In fact, just looking back, and doing a retrospect sort of educated me on how wrong I was on ignoring TV. Sure, if you merely skimmed the surface of TV a few years ago, youíd not see a very pretty picture. Youíd see the rise of Reality TV and every horrible offspring that genre has launched. But, youíd also miss a lot of good shows that garnered attention, but certainly seemed ignored when doing retrospectives. I'd still like to think that it sort of started with Twin Peaks, but maybe I'm being a bit too kind on that. I love the show. If you havenít seen it, I recommend it. Anyway, I just see the influence on a lot of modern programming. It was a triumph of a show, which was way ahead of its time. Its downfall was that people that didnít understand it ruined it. That's the nature of being on the bleeding edge. You either are able to get people to see it and understand it, or your stuck fighting and eventually losing.
So, as history often does repeat itself, we stand at another crossroads where TV is threatening the appeal of cinema. This isn't new. This has been a battle forever. It's been on and off. But, many have claimed this is the Golden Era of TV. I agree. I think now is probably the best TV has ever been. It's no longer just this idiot box with disposable waste. There's actual content on there that rivals some of the best work I've ever seen on film. The fact it also remains consistent. This is what truly makes it frightening, and appealing. The consistency is what currently is making TV thrive.
I bring myself to my first love, Film. Itís been a rough relationship. Ups and downs, and various escapades to exotic locations just to get my fix for something new. This is the nature of this industry, and if youíre not willing to play the field, then you get stuck with tripe. But, it seems this gestation of crap has been going on for a very long time. Not saying there hasnít been good films. Of course there has. I think several brilliant films have managed to work their way through the system. I also think a lot of these films are some of the best ever made. City of God, There Will Be Blood, Children of Men, Toy Story 3, Old Boy, Battle Royale, and countless others have come out of this era of films. So, Iím not going to say that modern cinema is dead. However, I can say itís on life support fighting a long and hard battle against a cancer that formed from the inside. What was once healthy tissue are now cancerous growths that want to change and alter the very foundation of film, but not in the positive way on which they think will happen.
It's clear that the old thought of the younger guys coming in and ruining everything is just not true. The last few years have been a wake up call, and nice reference point for others to point to. The people that have in their prime made excellent films, and certainly earn their place in the pantheon of art, are doing all these changes and request for ďrevolutionĒ. They say bold statements like, "3D is the future" and "High frame rates will revolutionize cinema." All the while ignoring the very things that people want from cinema...good films. People don't really care about the technical aspects. You know how I know that? I cannot have a conversation with most people about this because they begin to roll their eyes. They donít care. They really don't. Why should they? Itís not their field. Itís not what they go to the theaters for. They go to be taken away from the world they occupy, and live in someone else shoes. However, if you start given people headaches, and showing the technical blunders of makeup, then you start thinning that line between fantasy and reality. You ruin the very thing you are trying to protect. We use to try and hide all that. I think this clamoring to showcase ourselves can be classified as penis envy. They think cinema needs to be louder and tackier to trump TV. It doesnít. It just needs to be good.
I read these interviews of famous filmmakers, and itís clear that most of them are so out of touch, that itís sad. Sure, Avatar made a crap ton of moneyÖbut it wasnít because it was a good film. Everyone in the world was talking about how it was some sort of revelation, and was required viewing. Itís the same thing that drove people to see Passion of the Christ. Still doesnít make it a good film. The core thing that drove up the income was 3D pricing and that it didnít have religion to drive away others Ė or extensive violence and anti-Semitic undertones. I believe that most of the problems with the box office turnouts can be solved with a simple solutionÖ
MAKE GOOD FILMS.
The true innovation in film isnít 3D or higher frame rates. Itís the cost of entry. That is what scares these old guys, and what ignites us young guys Ė and gals . Be happy that they just donít get it. Make your films. Challenge their ideas. Our buy in is cheaper, and our longevity is longer. They can try to throw these expensive hurdles in our way, but we wonít back down, or be burdened by it. We can take it because we are young and have ideas.
04-27-2012 12:49 PM #2
Wasn't sure where to post this, almost made a new thread, but figured it would work in Twonun's little rant page.
Do those in charge of making and distributing and exhibiting motion pictures no longer want me to go to the movies any longer? It sure seems like it, or at least that looks to be the direction they're moving in after reports came out of CinemaCon yesterday that a debate was raised over the possibility of allowing texting to take place inside of movie theatres in the future without repercussion. Now my first reaction to this whole discussion has always been "I thought people go to the movies to actually watch the movie, not take phone calls, tweet, check emails or hop on their Facebook," but apparently there are some who think that perspective is bullshit and are looking to drive me away for the self-important and discourteous who might then replace my dollars at the box office by tenfold or some other ridiculous multiple.
During a panel about industry issues, it was brought up on more than one occasion that perhaps allowing texting is the way to go to combat the slouching attendance. Sony Pictures Entertainmentís Jeff Blake whined that 20 years ago, "kids would come every week." Yeah, I know... I was one of those kids. I was also one of those teenagers, one of those young adults, one of those 20-somethings who loved going to the movies so much, who found it to be such a magical experience, who had it has their vice that I would usually go to the movies every weekend, to see whatever was playing. I've seen plenty of good, plenty of bad and plenty of in-between, but, as far as the studios and the theatres are concerned, I was frequenting their business period. Therefore, I think I'm qualified to say as a regular patron that they've lost their fuckin' minds in thinking that allowing texts is going to help regain the audiences they've been losing with regularity. Prior to cell phones, the biggest issue you had to concern yourself with at the movies was some loud mouth incapable of shutting the fuck up for a couple of hours, but usually a few well-places Shhh's from various members of the audience would take care of that. If needed, a visit to the lobby to get a manager or usher would then resolve such an issue. However, now with everyone having so much access to the outside world in the palm of their hands, the deterioration of common courtesy has accelerated over the past couple of years. Come to think of it, I wouldn't care if you felt the need to send a text during the couple of hours you're supposed to be escaping from your normal and mundane life if you could do so without your Smartphone lighting up the whole damn theatre brighter than the movie itself. But you can't. No matter how much you try to reduce the shine on your luminous phone, there is no way for you to do it without distracting those around you. And that's where those putting texting on the table just dont seem to get it. The movie is supposed to be the distraction, not the movie-goers.
Regal Entertainment CEO Amy Miles mused ďIím concerned that the movie-going experience isnít just for baby boomers.Ē She also speculated ďif we had a movie that appealed to a younger demographic, we could test some of these concepts," confessing that 21 JUMP STREET was talked about by those at Regal for relaxed cell phone standards. "Youíre trying to figure out if thereís something you can offer in the theater that I would not find appealing but my 18-year-old son might," she added. Well, Amy, let me offer up a counter to your argument. I'm concerned that the movie-going experience isn't just for assholes. I'm becoming more and more concerned that the movie-going experience isn't just for those who only care about themselves with no regard for anyone else's right to enjoy their experience as well. I'm also a little bit concerned that my age demographic is now going to dictate what I can and can't see, because God forbid my old ass wants to see something like 21 JUMP STREET or something else marketed to the youngsters... I won't be able to unless I want to deal with all the obstacles that'll come with it.
However, leave it to Greg Foster from IMAX to be the icing on the cake. His 17-year-old son always has his phone on him... I guess that makes him special from the rest of the population that also does, but Foster's theory on the matter is this: "We want them to pay $12 to $14 to come into an auditorium and watch a movie. But theyíve become accustomed to controlling their own existence.Ē He also believes they may ďfeel a little handcuffed" by not being able to use their phones during a movie. Good!! They're supposed to feel handcuffed. It's a rule that's been established for the greater good for the greatest number of people... not just for your kid. I guess people might feel a little handcuffed by their ability to just walk into a bank and take whatever money they want, too, regardless of whether or not it belongs to them, but guess what? That's the rule, unless you want to take the chance of winding up in handcuffs. Maybe it's my abundance of common sense, but I'm not seeing why anyone would want to cater to this particular crowd, when the majority of people who do follow the rules on not using your cell phone during a movie also have $12 to $14 they're willing to pay for a few hours of entertainment.
I asked my friend just the other day about the use of cell phones in a movie, and he guesstimated that during a film, on average, there's probably 20-30 instances of people taking out their phone. Now, with a sold-out house of about 400, that's a fraction of the overall population watching a movie. Therefore, why would those who exhibit that type of behavior be the clientele you're looking to build on?
Tim League, the cinematic hero of the Alam Drafthouse, spoke up against these texting ideas, and sadly seemed to be in the minority. Yeah, his chain is smaller than those of Regal or AMC, so clearly what does he know? He only operates the chain that everyone who actually enjoys movies wishes their chain could be like. ďOver my dead body will I introduce texting into the movie theater. I love the idea of playing around with a new concept. But that is the scourge of our industry," he explained. "Itís our job to understand that this is a sacred space and we have to teach manners.Ē Do we honestly live in the Magnited States of America? How could this be the only dissenting opinion?
I'm lucky enough that I don't have to pay to see movies. As a member of the press, I'm shown the films by the studios for review. However, in the off chance that I've missed something or could not attend something that was set-up, it's gone for me and not coming back. I won't make the time or the effort to make up for my loss, because it isn't worth the aggravation. The last few times I either had to get up to search for a theatre manager who's impossible to find to hopefully take care of the problem for me, at which point I've already missed a nice chunk of the flick, or loudly bellow "Turn your phone off!!" with the goal that my public embarassment might be enough to inform such party that they're being incredibly rude. But why would I pay for an experience I know will be less than ideal? And there's your problem, movie industry. You continue to look for ways to gain from the less than ideal rather than improving with the mindsight of being ideal once again. Did you ever stop and think that maybe the reason people aren't coming to the movies on a weekly basis anymore (besides the economy) is you? The ticket prices, the underlit screens, the concession prices, your lack of desire to deal with talkers or texters... these are the reasons people don't want to come back. Would you want to go back to a restaurant where you had a terrible experience? Of course not, and the same holds for the movies. Oh, sure, you might make an exception for something you really want to see, but there's a reason your attendance is down. People don't want to come back repeatedly to endure the headache. Fix those issues, and maybe you'll be onto something. Otherwise, don't come bitching to me in the future when the movie-going experience is in peril, because the only customers you're attracting are those who aren't even there to watch the movie. That's no type of business model that can possibly sustain itself. Eventually, they'll learn they can not pay attention to the movie and do other things with their time without having to pay admission. You need those who are paying because of the service you're offering to stick around.
I believe John McClane summed this up best - "if you're not a part of the solution, you're a part of the problem. Quit being a part of the fucking problem and put the other guy back on!" Tim League, you were saying...
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