“The trouble with cinema is that it relies heavily on money” – Andrei Tarkovsky
I am sure many people have risen up one day and thought to themselves “why the hell do I love film, why THE hell do I like to create in this art?” This depressing thought comes and hovers in one’s mind briefly and only with a slight chronic consistency before it is dismissed by passion. But, before this tick falls off and dies one should consider its argument to transcend limitation.
The difference between cinema and almost all other art forms is that it is a complete collaboration in most circumstances. Painting is done by the painter, writing is done by the writer etc. There are of course obvious exceptions, music, the composer may write it but unless it is a solo piece then one MUST collaborate, one can apply a similar argument to architecture. So why is collaboration bad?
Collaboration implies that the piece of art will be collaborated upon, that multiple people will make decisions and arguments towards developing the piece. The initial problem with this and the most fundamental is that art should not be collaborated upon. James Joyce believed that an artist should be an isolated figure, along with many other artist. Cassavetes stood clear of Hollywood and strived for independence and wrote his own films. Ingmar Bergman lived on an Island till the end of his days, what is more isolated than an island, Golding even used it as his canon in his Nobel Prize winning novel to show a physical and more importantly emotional seperation from civilization. Bergman wrote some of his strongest works and had a lot of independent power over his projects. Stanley Kubrick isolated himself from Hollywood and demanded his sole control over projects, although he did collaborate in his career with people like Vlladamir Nabakov and Arthur C. Clarke. It would almost seem that the more independent the work, the more potent.
Obviously this is not a problem then if so many filmmakers have achieved this solace but of course that is “obviously” not true. There is an inevitable collaboration with filmmakers and other people. One cannot just pull a budget out of the sky and master photography, editing and composition before he creates his first film. A filmmaker must get producers, then get a crew, then get a cast etc. This is a ton of people that one MUST work with. How is a filmmaker’s art supposed to be from him if he is essential going to be filtered by a half of the people he is going to create this with?
On the polar, collaboration can be a good thing. I have had moments where someone has said to me “How about he (insert verb here) instead?” and I have said “That is brilliant!” A person can only do so much. There have not been many directors who do absolutely EVERYTHING on their project, or at least many successful ones. Wouldn’t a filmmakers rather have Ennio Morricone score his brutal Western instead of himself banging his head on a piano all day? I am sure almost any director in history would rather have Vittorio Storaro or Roger Deakins DP their film. Ultimately the idea of collaboration is completely based on subjectivity but what aspect is not?
Money, geld, penge, penize, zahlungsmittel, pengar and moneda. One simply cannot argue that the ultimate and enormous requirement of a materialistic currency for art is in fact nurturing the respective art. Just stop and think of the endless plain of creativity one could achieve with all the money they needed!
The most depressing part of cinema is that one has to have money to express themselves in it with an entire satisfaction.
BUT! There is change on the horizon and it must be embraced, NOT denied arrogantly for the sake of selfishness. It is that of the digital age. First there were home entertainment systems like DvD players, then highly affordable computers, then highly affordable decent quality cameras, then there was professional editing software at prosumer prices and slowly but surely there is professional cinema equipment at affordable prices for anyone with a job. Eventually but not in current sight, cinema will not require anything short of a days work. People have been educated to write on a universal ultimatum when before they were left cheated, industrialization has led to an increase in the standard of art with regards to supplies, now anyone can get oil paints and laptops that produce art at its pinnacle, hopefully we can one day say the same about film.
What do you think the biggest problems of cinema are?
I agree completely Chopin.
I think another problem is that creators are too afraid to make something personal. This observation goes back to the fifties. They’re afraid of opening up, looking inside of themselves for something they want to show, and to only regret later. People are just too worried about impressing other people. Which then, goes back to money; how are we going to get it, how are we going to make it back, how do we get asses in seats.
The digital age is a great thing. Because, you can experiment, with all these things you want to say and do. And, assuming you don’t go for broke and buy the most expensive equipment, you’re not losing any money. And since I don’t have money, I substitute that with manipulation. Which is another daunting task that an independent director must tackle, is the art of “schmoozing”. This is something that, I find myself getting better at; whether it be to get a location, dates, equipment, or people. It’s something I absolutely hate to do, but my charismatic level is always on the rise. But then again, I do love to lie, cheat, and steal!
I guess money is the foundation for all problems.
It’s too trendy. Everything gets broken down into formulas and the magic gets sucked dry.
Also, commercial cinema just downright sucks!
I was watching Blow-Up with my dad the other day and he was telling me that he went and saw the film in theaters when he was in elementary school. That would never happen today! A film like that would never be mainstream. It makes me sad. People just have such terrible taste and hollywood puts out these shameful movies to feed the masses.
It is getting cheaper by the day. And it can be a one person show now. The collaboration thing has always been way overrated.
Consider Craig Baldwin and David Blair.
When did movies not rely on money? Their whole purpose has been making money since nine o’clock, day one; remember, profitable filmmaking was the intent of Edison so he could sell more Kinetoscopes to amusements owners. The only reason Bergman didn’t operate in a money system was because he was Swedish. There has never been a large, private Scandinavian film industry because the populations are too small for it to be profitable, so the films there are subsidized by the government, which has provided Scandinavian filmmakers with a lot more personal control.
As for digital filmmaking, I am curious to see how long digital filmmakers are willing to work without a paying audience.
The opening up of filmmaking, in my opinion, puts the quality of films at risk. Before the breaking-up of the studios vertically-integrated business models by the government in the late-‘40s, you had an industry that consolidated the largest share of the worlds filmmaking talent in one location, which produced a consistent stream of quality films (yes, of course, it did have its drawbacks, the star system and tight contracts prevented some people from working together (though it’s not like they didn’t talk shop over dinner)).
Why does everyone on this site hate the idea of artists working together? So romantic, but so far from the truth of how things have been.
‘’Why does everyone on this site hate the idea of artists working together? So romantic, but so far from the truth of how things have been."’
Everyone? Are you sure? Or should I check the MLA?
“As for digital filmmaking, I am curious to see how long digital filmmakers are willing to work without a paying audience.”
“Knowing” grossed 78 million
“My Bloody Valentine” grossed 51 million
“Jumper” grossed 81 million
These films are all recent and not to mention the entire new “Star Wars” trilogy and “Slumdog Millionaire” (which only had a few film scenes) some of the films that are by major directors that may not necessarily gross a lot., “Che” and the upcoming “Public Enemies” to name some. – All shot entirely on digital format cameras.
If by digital filmmakers you mean, small independent filmmakers, then they wouldn’t make money anyway because they wouldn’t be making films if it weren’t for digital.
Digital filmmaking is what is going to take over independent film and arguably, already has, it is a lot more convenient and cheaper. Big budget companies who can afford film really are not going to use digital until it becomes drastically better or more convenient for them, Lucas and Soderbergh already have though.
“When did movies not rely on money?”
They always have and that is why cinema has this flaw. By rely on money, I mean they rely on spending money to make.
And weather or not one prefers collaboration isn’t really a flaw, just a preference.
Well, try to make a movie without preferring collaboration and see how far you get.
Why bother citing films like Knowing and the recent Star Wars pictures? Those clearly aren’t the films we’re talking about.
I’m curious to know why art shouldn’t be collaborated on? Is art made by one person inherently better? Are you suggesting that Bergman didn’t collaborate? What was Sven Nykvist doing? When Bergman was writing scripts for Alf Sjoberg and Gustaf Molander, did he not consider himself to be contributing to those films artistically? What about all of his work in the theatre? Certainly, almost certainly, Cassavettes felt that he was collaborating with his actors, those films wouldn’t work without the actors each contributing and playing-off of each other.
Oh, but to be a self-expressive Artist!
“It seems likely that many of the young who don’t wait for others to call them artists, but simply announce that they are, don’t have the patience to make art.”
Ok, did you actually read what I wrote or just stop with self indulgent rage and state an argument that I clearly answer. I ‘clearly’ state “collaboration can be a good thing” – “I am sure almost any director in history would rather have Vittorio Storaro or Roger Deakins DP their film” – “Wouldn’t a filmmakers rather have Ennio Morricone score his brutal Western instead of himself banging his head on a piano all day?”
Bergman of course collaborated with people but for a filmmaker he was rather independent and he produced some of the best work out there.
I don’t know what you are arguing with, Rich I have the feeling you are the type to jump to the south pole if someone jumps to the north, weather or not you like penguins.
What do you mean they are clearly not what we are talking about? Alex Proyas is not a digital filmmaker now? Lucas is not a digital filmmaker?
My point with citing Lucas and others was to say you are CLEARLY incorrect by saying digital filmmakers don’t have a paying audience.
But, in my last post I even said “If by digital filmmakers you mean, small independent filmmakers, then they wouldn’t make money anyway because they wouldn’t be making films if it weren’t for digital.” It is not like small independent filmmakers make much money anyway unless they score a big fat greek wedding and digital has close to nothing to do with someone wanting to go see a movie, for the average movie goer at least.
To be honest, if you are not talking about digital theatrical releases I have no idea what you are talking about, almost all commercials are digital and digital is taking, or arguably has taken, over independent film. What films are “we” talking about?
Finally, to be self expressive or collaborative is personal, that is why I state it in my first post.
No, I read your entire post, and you backed away from the values of collaboration that you all too briefly mentioned following your dismissal of it:
“The initial problem with this and the most fundamental is that art should not be collaborated upon.”
“How is a filmmaker’s art supposed to be from him if he is essential going to be filtered by a half of the people he is going to create this with?”
“On the polar, collaboration can be a good thing.” (I know you hate my nit-picking, but “polar” has only two uses as a noun (both very specific) and that is not one of them).
You talk about Morriconne and Deakins as though they are only the tools of a director and not creative individuals in-and-of themselves. And you finish by stating that one of the chief merits of digital filmmaking is that it allows the filmmaker working on a smaller scale even more control. So no, you don’t really make a case for collaboration. Furthermore, these smaller scale directors you talk about as being the “bandage” (not sure what that metaphor means, since a bandage is only temporary until the wound has healed) are not the Lucas’ and Danny Boyles’, but individuals working on an incredibly smaller scale; so the films you cite are irrelevant to the real shift that digital will create, which will be as an even more expedient video format (which are the small films, commericals, and television programs I am talking about).
Honestly, I’m not sure what your argument is; you’re all over the place:
“One simply cannot argue that the ultimate and enormous requirement of a materialistic currency for art is in fact nurturing the respective art.”
What does that even mean? Also, I don’t think more money helps filmmaking (“Just stop and think of the endless plain of creativity one could achieve with all the money they needed!”); the limits (especially financial) imposed on filmmakers have, since the beginning, forced them to be more creative and summon up more ingenuity than have ease and endless resources. The last thing we as audiences need are more bloated super-productions.
I couldn’t disagree more.
If one is an ‘artist’ that doesn’t want collaboration, they should write and never show it to the public. Films without collaboration would be pretty devoid of great aesthetics. If directors didn’t actually need collaboration, why would they even need an audience then for that matter? Let it live in the mind for all eternity. What digital should be doing if anything at all, and nothing more, is get the product to its destination quicker – that’s it’s inherent usefulness. s’all. If someone is saying here that by using digital that directors are using a superior product, I would firmly disagree.
Sorry but i have to disagree with the perceived notion that My Big Fat Greek Wedding was independent in a general sense, definitely not in the classic Cassavetes sense – not even close, especially when you look at the producers and marketing of it. I guess its just in the assumption of what qualifies. B Actors accept scale, no artist hired to do the poster…et al.
A good director is able to work in the system (of which btw, digital will create its own system – mainly by having too-many-too-count film festivals, egads tired of looking at those double braids on the cover of the dvd) a great director will be able to make cinema history within that same system.
afaik, digital and its less cost to shoot (although the profit is definitely going where it always has) has yet to produce something i find as valuable as i have with film.
Some good points (especially about My Big Fat Greek Wedding’s “independence”).
I will defend the higher-end digital output to an extent, it allows films like Wall-E to be made, yet at the same time produces the poor look of films like Superbad, nothing against that film, I happen to love it, yet high-end digital has yet to make low lit scenes look good (note the fuzzy quality of all those scenes shot at night (and there were a lot of them)).
Technology rarely has a tremendous, industry-shattering effect on the system (the introduction of synchronized sound is really the only one), and I doubt that the “digital revolution” will change very much.