Alright, it’s drizzling in LA. It’s been overcast for an hour and (along with the rest of the city) my seasonal-affective-disorder is kicking in.
In my cynical state, I thought I would share a little metaphor that I was discussing with some filmmakers at an artists’ club in SoHo in the wee hours.
What is the value of niche/art film if no one ever sees it? If you’re making obscure little indie films that no one ever sees but which you really enjoy, are you really just doing it for your own pleasure? And isn’t that kind of like masturbation? Moreover, if art film is masturbation, then that would make their opposite, studio tent pole event movies… prostitution?
|Picasso's Les Mademoiselles d' Avignon|
Don’t get me wrong – I’m not placing judgement on what kind of films people choose to work on. I have friends who write tent poles and friends who make movies for an audience of one… and I’m mighty proud of all of them actually. Hell, I’m proud of anyone who gets any sort of movie made. Lord knows it ain’t easy.
I’m just trying to figure out what the balance is, if indeed there is a balance. Maybe there’s a different answer for everyone. Film is art, film is commerce. There is a large gray area between those extremes and I think that they have a lot to learn from each other.
The studios spend lots of time and market research developing films in the hopes of reaching as large an audience as possible. Films for everyone - it sounds like the perfect marriage between communism and capitalism – ideally hit all four quadrants of viewers: men and women, young and old. I would argue that these films are less about individual expression and more about their ability to please, their broad appeal. Unless of course they are made by Pixar. Talk about balance. They’ve managed to support artistic vision and reach the masses. Bravo, Pixar.
Alright, so that’s the model of successful balance on the top tier – what about for us indie folk? How do you create film that pushes the limits and is a true creative expression of your yearning little artistic soul and ensure that lots of people are going to want to sit in the seats munching popcorn for two hours of it? We can’t hire Tom Hanks (or let’s face it, even get a read from his agent’s assistant). As an independent filmmaker, how do you balance?
Finding the balance as an indie filmmaker -- using cinema as a tool for artistic expression while also getting people to actually SEE the films that I am pouring my heart and soul into… that’s the goal. So, maybe there is compromise on the road to independent distribution. What that is, I have no idea. I get the sense that I’m opening a can of worms here… maybe I’m just trying to incite someone to comment on this blog!!!! I guess really, I’m hoping that somewhere in the large gray area between masturbation and prostitution is… making love.