Is it me or is everyone a filmmaker now?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Blu, Jan 5, 2003.

  1. Blu

    Blu Screenwriter

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    It just seems like everyone wants to be a filmmaker now. I could be wrong but with all the sites up for shorts and scripts.
    Filmmaking is becoming more affordable with MiniDV and great software easily accessible.
    Things are ripe for the next Robert Rodriguez or Kevin Smith to break out.
     
  2. JohnRice

    JohnRice Lead Actor

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    Yes, everyone thinks they are a film maker because they don't know the difference between having a couple pieces of equipment and genuine knowledge and skill. Photography has been that way for decades. Everyone thinks they are a photographer.
     
  3. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

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    Well I'm not so pessimistic to people's aspirations.
    If you take photographs in a serious manner (more than point and shoot) or you make films in a serious manner, then I believe you can consider yourself a photographer, or a filmmaker. I write and play songs on my guitar, I consider myself a musician.
    But whether you're good at what you do is another question... [​IMG]
     
  4. JohnRice

    JohnRice Lead Actor

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    Well, it's a touchy subject with me. Too many people think equipment creates the talent.
     
  5. Blu

    Blu Screenwriter

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  6. Dan Brecher

    Dan Brecher Producer

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    There's always a point where people think they can do better than what they see in cinemas. They are of course well with in their right to try, and fair play to them for giving it a go, but it's not as simple as picking up a DV Camera and putting your friends to videotape.
    Filmmaking isn't easy. It's tougher even for newcomer on a low budget because they are usually in the position of having to do many things themselves. Robert Rodriguez may have made it look easy with El Mariachi when you hear what he made it for, or even Kevin Smith with Clerks, but you listen to both these gentlemen speak of making each film and it was tough for them because they were doing so much themselves and they were on such tight budgets. Filmmaking takes time, planning and the ability to constantly think visually and creatively. Anyone can pick up a camera, but few have the patience to do anything creative with it.
    What haunts a lot of young hopefuls are visions of other films that have inspired them to the point where they are desperate for their own film to be just like those which made them want to try and make a film in the first place. By this I mean what inspired their own film is so blatant that it leaves their work void of any originality whatsoever.
    There are many 'sitting around talking about bs' shorts and features inspired by Tarantino and Kevin Smith that reach the point of doing nothing original at all. These newcomers are just doing what those filmmakers did in the hope it will get them noticed, but it won't because it's already been done! If they must "do a Clerks," "do a Magnolia" or "do a Matrix" then fine, just have the decency to be creative about it unless making copycat straight to video movies is their career goal.
     
  7. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    A series of very accurate observations Dan, and as to John’s comment on equipment (not) making the man or photographer, it is pretty easy to observe that anyone can afford pen and paper, but the number of successful novelists is reasonably limited.

    One never knows what will happen with the internet, but filmmakers make films so that others will see them. Until there is a way for those seeing the films to pay those making the films (so that they can eat and get enough money to make more films), the internet will remain a marginal market, doomed to support (mostly) marginal films.

    One comment on DV—its not the cost of the equipment, but the cost of a transfer to 35mm (or even 16mm) that is the problem.

    Presume that you can get everyone to work for free and manage to shoot on HD equipment (which you probably have to rent). If you are wildly successful and turn out a 90-minute movie on a $20,000 budget, that a major film festival will accept, it will take $75,000-$100,000 to transfer to film.

    While the argument can be made that you don’t have to make the film transfer, not doing so will limit the showings to those places with digital video projectors.
     
  8. Matthew Brown

    Matthew Brown Supporting Actor

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    This topic really interests me because some months ago I attended the Philadelphia Film festival. Guess what? Very few of these were actually done on film!
    The winner had all the looks of a corporate training video. I wouldn't mind if this was public access television, but a film is so much more than that.

    Digital has made it a little too easy on "filmmakers" to create things that are half baked. From the "Film" festival I attended, some shorts were very well done. Others, had a point and shoot look. By this I mean that lighting and composition was functional at best and not used to create a mood or enhance the scene. Audio production was also sloppy on some of them. I don't mean poor use of sound, but just poor production.

    I respect the creators of these pieces for what they had accomplished but I can honestly say that I would never had considered entering these if they were mine.

    I think I dread the most is someday seeing feature lenth movies with the production values of a sit-com.

    Matt
     
  9. JohnRice

    JohnRice Lead Actor

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    EXACTLY!!!!!!!!!. What? Did Shakespeare have a really good quill?


    And finally, Matthew sums up several things. Truly talented people have found ways to get their first films done. Whether it was Robert Rodriguez or Kevin Smith, who may be popular ones to hold up, though I don't think either of them is all that good. Better examples are the Coen Brothers with Blood Simple, Sam Raimi with Evil Dead, Steven Soderberg with Sex, Lies and Videotape, and so on.

    Making it "easier" is not necessarily a good thing.
     
  10. Holadem

    Holadem Lead Actor

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  11. Dan Brecher

    Dan Brecher Producer

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  12. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    My take is that Dan and John are not really taking that different a view.

    Filmmaking, as with any endeavor, artistic or otherwise, takes a lot of work, much of it physical. As with any physical skill (or intellectual skill for that matter), it requires a substantial amount of practice to hone that skill to a point where it is serviceable enough to produce a sound product (or work of art).

    But enormous work will not suffice, if the creative spark and artistic talent is missing. For example, no amount of practice in the world will allow someone who cannot hear pitch properly to identify 440 (perfect pitch). Or even to be able to distinguish between 440 cycles and some small increment more or less (relative pitch).

    The same with golf, where many say that it is a 90% mental game. And so it is, but all the practice and mental discipline in the world won’t make you a Tiger Woods (or even any tour professional) unless you posses certain physical attributes.

     
  13. Seth Paxton

    Seth Paxton Lead Actor

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    But, perhaps we can assume that the TALENT is spread across society. However, it seems certain that not everyone will have equal access to film school or professional film equipment.

    Doesn't making access to some sort of filmmaking equipment mean that we, the audience, have a greater chance of having the very best talents find their way to the top?

    This is not to say that every lame internet digital short must be given it's due. But this is no different than music has always been. Plenty of lame bands/artists are able to get small gigs, make tapes and CDs, even get a video out sometimes. But most of those artists are weeded out by the process.

    We lament that such a process sometimes pushes aside real talent, but I would say that a lot more garbage gets dumped than quality does.

    As for big money flops like Pluto Nash, that's not the same department. Anyone with a lot of money has ALWAYS been able to make a film. Certainly we don't want to equate money to talent, right?

    So in that way having access to CHEAPER film equipment would seem to do 2 things - give us a better shot at finding the hidden talents of the world and secondly it requires even more filtering out of junk.

    Film festivals, distributors, etc have already been doing this sort of work. It's only really the internet that has made a lot of this work more accessible.

    The point is made every year - we see ALL the big money crap, but none of the low budget crap. That's because low budget crap gets pushed quickly aside. It ends up giving the false impression that indy or low budget films are generally of better quality. The truth is that we are generally only seeing the best of the best by the time these films get decent distribution.


    As for low budget filmmaking, I see something like Linklater's "Tape" and see a good film done on the cheap. Put good actors to a good script, light and shoot it in a manner appropriate for the equipment, cut it smartly, and you can do a good film on the cheap that is worth being seen.

    Digital video is no more the ruin of modern film than synths were the ruin of modern music. What you do with it is still the bottom line which is why someone like Fat Boy Slim can take the new equipment and create something unique rather than garbage.

    And DV will never replace film unless some very drastic changes come about in technology, so I wouldn't worry about that either.

    It's funny that no one minded that 8mm allowed Spielberg to do some work when he was young. Should we have stopped 8mm and only allowed for 16mm or better, or perhaps only 35mm or better?


    Now if we are saying that a bunch of morons think they are making film when really they are making digital crap, then yes I agree.
     
  14. Dan Brecher

    Dan Brecher Producer

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    Seth,

    I don't think anyone here is taking pot shots at one format over another, the issue was more over people going one route but trying to fool themselves and others into believing they had gone another.

    As I stressed above, whatever format one sides with be it super 8, 16mm, DV, Hi 8, 35mm...etc, the best course of action is to understand how to exploit whatever format you ultimately pick to the best of your abilities. Each and every format carries different pros and cons. The trick is to exploit those pros and cons creatively.

    I think all taking part in this discussion agree that hopeful filmmakers should embrace whatever they can get their hands on, indeed just as Steven Spielberg embraced his fathers 8mm camera that was just sitting around in his youth. Take what you can get and use it creatively is the best advice anyone can follow in their hopes of trying to make a film.

    Dan
     
  15. Dome Vongvises

    Dome Vongvises Lead Actor

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    Well, I can certainly state for the record that I want to go to medical school and become a doctor. Otherwise, I'd love to make films as a hobby.
     
  16. Ricardo C

    Ricardo C Producer

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  17. JohnRice

    JohnRice Lead Actor

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    That is exactly what I mean. It is simply a bunch of equipment. It does not make anyone more talented, but it does seem that it can make some people less talented because they think it makes creativity easier.
     
  18. Dome Vongvises

    Dome Vongvises Lead Actor

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    Speaking of filmmaking, here's a third hand anecdote I can hand down to you folks. And just to show you that this isn't some Internet urban legend, I've actually got names. [​IMG]
    One of my best friends, Tripp Cook of Virginia Tech, has a friend named Wes Justice (?) who went to Florida State's film school.
    According to how I understand the story, Wes hated it, and it's not just due to the technical and craftsmenship side of filmmaking, but there's an extraordinary amount of egos butting heads involved. One day you're arguing with the cinematographer, the next you're having shout outs with the actors/actresses.
    Like I said, I'd still like to do it as a hobby, like people who fish or paint model cars. Otherwise, filmmakers can only reap what they sow.
     
  19. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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  20. Matthew Brown

    Matthew Brown Supporting Actor

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    What I think bothers me most about what is surfacing now is that the artisitic aspects of film are getting pushed to the side just to squeeze out a movie. When I was in college I remember a film festival where one film demonstrated a complicated set of events happening in one straight take (several minutes). This was FILMED. You couldn't just rewind the tape over and do it over. The results were amazing. This had several different actors in it. The calaboration was amazing. Somebody took an aspect of making a film, a long take, and really pushed it for what it's worth.
    I don't find a lot of people who shoot digital advancing the medium at all. It's a real step back to accept some of these digitally shot shorts and let them compete with films in festivals.

    Matt
     

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