Monday, June 04, 2012

Film is Dead. Long Live Film.

Change is in the air. It has been for a while. But in the whirl wind it was hard to see how thinks might be after the storm. Now things are starting to land and a reshaped landscape is beginning to emerge.

For a start; fans are now financing films. They're cutting out the middle men. They're cutting out the bullshit. They're taking film back. Seeing it as art once again, rather than a business. The people who have stood in the way, as the authority, are being side stepped and we, the artists, are going straight to our audience, with help from our audience and they're saying 'Yay' or 'Nay' with their credit cards. Up front and in person.

Kickstarter, and websites like it, have exploded and have, perhaps unexpectedly, changed how we do things. Just as the internet did. Just as digital technology did. It's incredibly exciting. Paul Schrader (writer of Taxi Driver, Raging Bull) is even on Kickstarter for his new film 'The Canyons', written by Bret Easton Ellis (writer of American Psycho). He has described this moment as "how film was a hundred years ago." It's a new frontier, and we're inventing as we go. The old ways are fading. The dinosaurs are dying out. A new species is taking over. One that's online, and independent.

No one really knows how things are going to pan out. How the landscape will look next year, let alone in two, five or ten years. We know it will be different. Perhaps completely different.  With new ways of doing things and different platforms for making and selling different kinds of films. Maybe we will be able to co-exist. Instead of all chasing the same dream and going after the same money and opportunities as everyone else, taking the bus to Hollywood, so to speak, we'll be able to realise fully our own dreams and create our own opportunities. Having to go no further then our computer and our online community.

I posted the link to Schrader's Kickstarter campaign on facebook and a friend said he didn't like it, he thought it took away from the little guy - I disagree. I think people like Schrader realise the potential and see the future. They're aware things are changing and they're joining the charge.

Schrader especially is a filmmaker who has always been on the outside, on the art side, out on a limb and I imagine someone who still struggles to get his films made, even though he's responsible for some of the most important and groundbreaking films in Hollywood, the afore mentioned among them. So he, like many I'm sure, can see that going down this route cuts out the middle men, the suits, the people in glass towers trying to make their jobs mean something, those who delay scripts for years and years eventually killing them, just because the keep wanting to have their say. When really they should just shut the fuck up and let the filmmaker be a filmmaker and make a fucking film once in a while.

As I said, Kickstarter puts the power back into the hands of the filmmaker. It's goes from the filmmaker to the audience, directly, and it's the audience who are paying for the film, up front, because they believe in the artist or the film or both and want to support them. And I don't think it's even about the perks. A lot of people who have donated to me just want to see the film get made, regardless of whether or not they get a signed poster or DVD. They're inspired to help, the be a part of something. There seems to be a hunger for it, so rather than be handed a fast food version of a movie and told by some executive in LA this is what they're supposed to like, they're say 'No, that's not what I want,' and they're choosing to help make what they really want instead.

And I don't think that the likes of Paul Schrader stepping into the realm of Kickstarter will take away from the smaller filmmakers either. The little guy, me for example, I fundraise within my own social network. The hundreds or thousands of people who are friends on facebook, follow me on twitter and are in my inbox. Some might be lucky and reach outside that. But generally I think we smaller filmmakers stay within our own circles. The people who give do so because they believe in me and my project. They want to see me do well. The want to support that. It's goodwill, and being on the independent side of filmmaking, I've come to realise there is actually a lot of goodwill out there!

I love seeing projects making, or far exceeding, their goals on Kickstarter, even if they are by well known artists, check out Amanda Palmers recent drive! Amazing! She wanted $100,000, alot to ask, but she got it - plus a Million on top! I love it! It shows there's a hunger out there for unique films, not the homogenised studio system drivel made to look and sound like every other movie out there. It's not to make money, not to cash in on a sequel, prequel or remake with some empty effects driven piece of junk food, it's to see something new and original.

People love good stories well told. Somewhere along the line they stopped allowing a certain kind of story to be told, or maybe a certain kind of storyteller to speak. But a new door has opened and the storytellers are finding their way back. I think we're entering a new age of film. I think we're going to see braver films get made from now on. And I for one, am very exited it's happening and even more excited to be a part of it.

Film is Dead. Long Live Film.

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