10.23.2004



The arrogance of the film artiste (takes one to know one)


I was a film student, and I was incredibly stupid! But watching for the
first time The
Independent Film Channel's show, "Film School,"
you get the idea
very clearly: these kids are stupid! (Am I unfair?)

Overambitious schooting schedules. Unrealistic budgets. Silly
arrogance and disregard for the crew members who are there to bleed for
the film, if necessary ... if only they're made to feel appreciated.

Were we all like that in film school? I went to one of the big ones.
And I'm sure we were incredibly full of ourselves. All
the more so because we were at a semi-famous one -- not
#1 by reputation so we had to make up for it in pretentiousness. We all
knew it, too. Oh my. But boy did we have fun! Several of my
classmates have had much greater success than I have so far. Emmy's,
Independent Spirit, Oscars, modest commercial success.

So here I am ranting on a blog while I work on a DVD project.

The most arrogant person in the show tonight, in my view, was Leah.
She's the one with war paint on her face. Yes, war paint. I don't mean
traditional Alphabet City eyeliner. We're talking pink stripes
diagonally across her forehead and cheecks. What-ever!

But you know, she's the only one IFC deigned to show actually directing
the actors. (Note to film students: Don't forget about your actors.
If they aren't real, it doesn't matter of the way kewl crane shot is
smooth.)

Now before the tomatoes start coming my way, I'd like to add that I'm
not so much the pollyanna to think that IFC can, should or actually does
show the reality of what's happening on those sets. They're using the
grit, the conflict, the ego trips, the dramatic moments. Hey, they need
viewership to justify their carry fee to the cable and dish companies,
right? So I'm seeing just a distorted presentation, about as real as
the 7 o'clock news.

But it sure was a nice break from the political hack parade presented by
the cable networks 24/7, with programming for free to attract the
programming for fee. Makes me want to scream like a film student.

comments:

I don't know that stupid is the word you're looking for here, media girl. Perhaps fatuous is closer to the mark. Film is one of the few arts that doesn't require the practitioner to have any real understanding of the technology being harnessed. Can you imagine being a sculptor without knowing how to wield chisel against stone? Or a glass-blower not knowing that you have to heat the sand to obtain the metal from which their art is derived?

Film makers who really love their art become obsessed with the technology of their art. Artists who are obsessed with themselves have other fish to fry.
 
Well said, Dave! Although a filmmaker has to know what she is doing with visual language. She doesn't have to know how the camera works any more than the writer has to know the physics behind ball point pens. But filmmaking is more than point and shoot.

Which is all beside the point I was trying to make before, which is that they were not realistic in their scheduling, budgeting and shot lists, while at the same time disrespecting their crew members -- that is if they deigned to notice them at all.

It can be easy to get wrapped up in one's vision, but it ain't gonna happen without time and labor. If you have only half the movie shot, but you didn't have to compromise on your shot list, you can pat yourself on the back in the unemployment line, because you got no movie.

I find this all a riot, because when I look at Leah, I see myself in film school, all ambitious and full of myself and dismissive of those who disagreed. (You'd never guess now, huh?)
 
Hello there, MediaGirl. Just clicked through Slashdot and landed in your (very interesting!) Blog.

Film makers who really love their art become obsessed with the technology of their art.Hmm, I've a bone or two to pick with that. I do not mean to generalize here, but most of the artsy folks I've seen tend to love their -art- immaterial of the technology. Film makers may be interesting in making their art better, but are not all that often interested in the technology there in.

I'm quite sure that Van Gogh wasn't all that interested in the PAINTS and the BRUSHES as much as he was interested in how he got the work done, and Mozart was not interested in the PIANO or the VIOLIN or their workings in getting the work done, but rather his own sound.

Very few who insist upon their technology succeed very well (Yngwie Malmsteem is an example, albeit one not quite liked by many for the same reason).

Coming back to the point of movies, consider the classic example of George Lucas. That man is most certainly interested in working on Star Wars for eternity - however, he is not interested in the technology but rather in leveraging that technology to his benefit.

Agreed, there are a cross section of film makers out there who work on films with the technology in mind. However, I think that percentage is not quite large - those that consciously DO work with technology in mind are either technology-philes or are paid to do so.

Consider the classic example of George Lucas. That man is most certainly interested in working on Star Wars for eternity - however, he is not interested in the technology but rather in leveraging that technology to his benefit.

I know several film making artsy friends of mine who'd beat the crap out of me if I suggested that they love the technology behind their art. They may have personal preferences, such as a particular camera or a particular style - but that is no different from Van Gogh having Blue and Orange as his favourite colours.

That's just my opinion, ofcourse.
 
Thank you, Karthik. I would agree. The gear heads (as we call them ... unless we call them gobo heads) fetishize the technology, the toys, the stuff. But real filmmaking, be it narrative or documentary, is about story telling, isn't it?

I believe my comment above, which was probably written concurrently with yours, further clarifies my attitudes on this.
 
Damn, didn't realize I'd made so many mistakes in that post!

Yup, I don't quite recall your first post being around when I posted this - I lingered on for quite a while before actually coming up with a reply :-)

Well, look at the bright side - kids like that probably don't make it very far. They're the kind who either make it insanely big because some dude/ette with a fetish for technology decided to pump them up or because they're just too good - or will just fade away.

Eitherway, goodluck on your work!
 
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
 
Thanks, Karthik, for the feedback and well wishes. :)
 



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