Wednesday, June 30, 2010

SCREEN RANT: Addressing the State of Things

First off, I've really been brewing and struggling with this for the past couple of days. Some of my readers might have picked up on my occasional rant tweet on twitter this week but I've come to the conclusion this topic definitely needs more then 140 characters to really get to the meat of the issue.

I had two very interesting conversations over the weekend with two young filmmakers, to whom I will leave unnamed. Lets just say, the conversations left me very disheartened. My own personal stance and filmmaking philosophy wasn't shaken by any means, but I was surprised by how much all the hard work, research and relationships I've built online have have paid off. As prideful as this sounds, I don't really know how else to say it, I know my filmmaking. And I'm not sure they do. And if they do, they've straight up put themselves in a box.

The most common theme I heard running through the conversations was "I wanna make big budget action movies, be the next Stephen Spielberg." This simply may be a matter of taste on my part, but I really don't like Spielberg's recent films. He falls into the same category as M. Bay but again, more personal opinion. That wasn't really the problem, the problem for me is this, so many teens who aspire to make films seem to be more in love with what they shoot on and how much money they threw at their film, then the storyline and the characters. It hurts my heart, as weird as that might sound.

So many people assume all they need is a lot of explosions, a couple of hot girls and a whole lotta guns to make it big and in one sense, they're right. Take Iron Man 2 for example, look at my previous list and it pretty much lines up perfectly (except IM2 has a leg up on most films cause it has RDJ but you know...) People accept those films because that's what they're being fed and if a "big brain" movie happens to sneak its way onto the big screen, people are deterred because they have to sit there, watch a movie and actually THINK! SHOCKHORROR!

I know people go to the theater to be entertained, but film is a medium too powerful to just entertain. Its meant to influence, effect and, shape the audience on an individual level. And therein lies the paradoxical balance, to entertain, inform, but most importantly to grab your audience by their cerebrums and force them to THINK, gorramitt!

I've stated where those two young men stand, now its my turn.

I don't care about getting rich from my films.

I don't care about getting famous from my films.

I don't care if you can count the number of deaths and or explosions in one of my films on your right hand.

I most definitely don't care if my female leads looks like Megan Fox (pardon me as I gag)

I will not have my male lead rip off his shirt for no apparent reason or randomly stare at the camera with his big blue eyes.

I will never let my actors get away with leaving their mouth hanging opened for half the frakking film *KStew cough cough*

I don't believe that true love means you gotta have on screen sex.

I think that if your gonna make two characters drink coffee,at least give them real coffee.

IMHO: CGI gore is a cop out. Gore in general is. Absurdly long Steadicam shots do not solve badly constructed scenes. Tell a story, don't just follow the characters around. Killing your main protagonist and then bringing them back to life for a sequel is just stupid. I'm sorry, it is.

Phew. Glad I got that off my chest. ;) I'll end there. Personally I don't really care if anyone actually reads this post or not, it's more of a conscience thing for me.

I've poured out where I stand on paper and published it. People can now hold me accountable for everything I've said. And if you do happen to read this post. Hold me to it. I want you to.


  1. This is awesome. I agree with you. Spielberg falling in with Michael Bay...fact. I bet when he looks back on his years you could say it to him and he'd agree lol. (lets hope)

    It's sad, the art of film is being left behind in the big theatre.

    "So many people assume all they need is a lot of explosions, a couple of hot girls and a whole lotta guns to make it big and in one sense, they're right."
    -So true. It works, people go see those movies. Lazy writing creates lazy thinkers and they keep on filling the theatre seats.

    "People are deterred because they have to sit there, watch a movie and actually THINK! SHOCKHORROR!"
    -lol, that is so true. When did thinking become
    so taboo?

    It sucks that those coming into and already in the industry have that yearning to do something of another director, following the money or the cool factor.' What happened to originality and individuality? Be inspired, take what you love of many creations, many directors and writers and create your own. Where'd it all go? It's creating multiple duplications of an idea into every movie.

    Amen to is a medium! You're one of the smart ones, you know there can be be both, the art and the entertainment factor which isn't defined by the sexy air tone of Megan Fox or the explosions of Casino Royale.

    Great blog post...I'm hopping on your Screen Rant train lol.

  2. I commend you for your strength of commitment and your fortitude to stick with how you want to do your films rather than selling out for fame and fortune. There are far too few like you!

  3. You have the right attitude, just be realistic that you do want to at least make a living at what you love! You have the drive and dedication that you will need to become successful. And don't worry about the wanna-be's so much, they will end up somewhere else if they don't really have that love and dedication. Keep on doing what you're doing, I'll say I knew you when!

  4. Great post! Best wishes with your project!

  5. I love a good rant! Nice post.

    Whether you are out to do popcorn movies, or personal, or a bit of both, they all require great scripts to stand out form the crowd.

    I have no problem with people making big action movies, but as long as they are the best, they push the envelope with them.

    But even at that, if you want to make those kind of films, filmmakers should not really be thinking in those terms. It should ALWAYS be character, story.

    Example. I am not really a fan of "The Dark Knight" Its a brilliantly made film, and Nolan is a great director, and I am so lookng forward to "Inception". But Batman is just not my cup of tea.

    OK, we got explosions, guns, the works! So if you want to make $200m movies, can you skip being a bad writer, or just get someone else to do it? No!

    Did Nolan shoot micro budget action flicks to show he had the potential to do "The Dark Knight" or "Inception"? No!

    He wrote and shot a £10,000 character thriller with no guns or explosions. It had no action but it was a smart script. The same with "Momento"

    If you look at the director of "Iron Man" Same there. I loved his firt flick "Swingers" A little character comedy that was decent script writing.

    My point is, I dont care what type of filmmaker people want to be, the script is the beating heart whether popcorn, art, or both. And thats the side that saddens me about this indie wave.

    People can now get a cam and shoot, but they don't spend enough time on "writing" Or at least they should hunt for great writers.

    Anyway, I think whether is popcorn or communicating films, or both, we should all strive to be extraordinary.

    As for money and fame. I cant answer that. Any filmmaker that wants to go into this biz for those two things, really needs to get a reality check. If you are not burning up to tell great stories, leave now. Or die starving.

    Great post MJ

    PS. Spielberg is a biz man now, like most of my past influences. I dont follow their work anymore.