I'm with ChiO on this one, I don't see it as bleak quite yet, though the thwarting of independents trying to open lately is disturbing. Luckily I think there are those out there who still promote independent features, like the film festivals.
At my little movie theatre, there are 4 movies playing - White House Down
(no real interest), Monsters Academy
(Normally I like Pixar, but I just don't care about this one much for reasons listed by you guys), Frances Ha
and Before Midnight
, which both sound interesting. So that's 2 to 2, and when you throw in that we're in summer blockbuster mode, well, that's probably more than what we could expect at this time of year.
But I'm also with you and Red. I think respect has a lot to do with it - of the material, of the people you are working with, and for
- namely the public. We're the people, and we just keep on a goin. John Q. Public. There you are Norton, the people! Try to lick that! Well, you know what I mean. I think that the big budget whizzes in Hollywood don't have any idea of 'the people'.
This will probably sound like a bunch of hooey, and I'm quite sure it is!
but I think the underlying problem in movies is one I see with a lot of things in my area of the country - schools, banks, places that used to be free from meddling by corporations or moneyed interests, or at least they were SUPPOSED to be free from influence back in the day and people tried to live up to that even if they sometimes didn't. Back then, businesses really thought they provided a service when people gave them their money. (I AM getting to the movie thing, but it takes a preface. Or maybe I just feel like ranting...but take it all with a grain of salt and humor) I guess I would call this 'new deal' we are getting lately the businessification of America. Suddenly everything is big, conglomerated, distant, business oriented. Big schools, big banks, big stores. Let's run schools on a business model. Change for change's sake, but not too much! Big movies, big plans, big studios. It's about the stock market or more specifically, making money - which is every man and woman's right in America. I should say that my criticism here is of taking
money, not making money because it's a different thing... it's not business lately, it's extortion. We take business too far in our age...we try to palm off nothing at all for people's hard earned cash.
In my little town recently ( meaning the past 10 years) I've seen our bank go from the "friendly neighborhood bank" to a rabid, money hungering, big brother shark who wants their tellers and customer service representatives to call up people at home in order to find out their interests so they can 'sell' them more products from our bank that they don't need. A 'fishing' expedition. A customer used to be able to go into the bank and talk to the Branch Manager, who more than likely knew them personally from down the street and that Branch Manager would suggest they take out a small personal loan because they needed it, and yes because it would be good for the bank. The Branch Manager did so because she believed that good word of mouth was the best advertising, and that this guy would come back because of the personal touch, the trust
. and you know what? she was right. She was providing a needed service. Trust was born.
Now, ten years later, this same customer goes in to the bank, doesn't know anyone, and is told a "personal finance expert" is there to 'help' him with his retirement needs and that he really needs to see him while the loan app is being printed. The Branch Manager you've never seen takes you to the retirement expert, who will take the customer's money and invest it 'wisely' (for the bank especially) and supposedly at the end of another 20 years we'll see how that all works out (because the retirement expert is not really from the area, the bank hired him from across the state to come down and sell their greediness and he's got a lead on another job at another bank out of state for higher pay....) meanwhile the customer is now whisked back to the Branch Manager he doesn't know and suddenly he's refinanced his home at a lower rate which will give him oodles of money, no matter that he didn't want it but now he has a higher payment because the manager needed a quota on 15 year mortgages instead of 30 that day so she convinced him to go with the fifteen. Now he's even more stuck than he was, because he's beholden to the bank for a mortgage he can't pay AND he still needs a loan. I feel somehow that this is how the movie business is run... not really to make movies, but to make money.
I know I sound ridiculous ranting, but I AM getting to the point. I worked at the 'friendly neighborhood bank', and that's the reason I quit when I had my child. Quotas, calling folks at home to tell them their rates when really it's a ploy to sell more accounts and investments... I did
it, and that IS the notion behind it - to get more of the customers' money FOR THE BANK TO INVEST. Not to provide service. Yes, diversifying accounts is probably a good thing, but this is not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about more fees and more money for the bank to use to get it's own money. It made me feel dirty every single day I was there under that new policy during my last year. I spent every free moment selling whether customer's needed that account or service or not, and I feel proud that I once shredded the call list. And my very own husband got rooked by the new outside businesswoman from a different town who replaced my old branch manager - he signed into a 15 year mortgage payoff that we weren't really ready for instead of the 30 year we should have refinanced, and we've been sorry ever since. The new Branch Manager threw us under a bus to get her quota, and I worked with her! She also made me do her work for her, typing up endless loan forms and referrals that she was supposed to be doing. She didn't care, because she moved on to another bank soon after, having had people covering her ass all over the place. If I'd been there at the final refinance meeting, I like to think we wouldn't have been suckered, but who knows? Thank goodness our house is almost paid off because we've been living like paupers for 11 years.
Anyway, the big budget studio heads now are like that new Branch Manager - they don't stick long enough to save anything but their own bottom line. I believe that in general, the men who used to run movie studios felt they had a higher calling, yes, like my old Branch Manager - to make money but to provide a benefit
to the community. It was the least they could do for all that money and faith in them. The studio heads felt they had to provide entertainment to the masses, to tell them something meaningful or at least if it wasn't meaningful, to give them a life lesson along the way or something WOW! They were entrepreneurs who brought in artistic people from all other areas (literature, playwrights, directors from the stage, painters, radio personalities, all sorts of people with differing backgrounds) in order to coalesce something so "new" and so "good" or so "different" that the public would hike themselves up off their keesters to come to the theatre and see it.
Now, I believe the criteria for what is brought to people in theatres is not "new" or "good" and especially not "different". I think the big budget producers think "moneymaking" and "bottom line" and "cheap" are the most important thing about producing a movie. "Pre-Tested". Talent counts, but only in proven form. It's like selling those accounts we don't really need. How little can we the studios give the audience for what we spent? Sell them nothing for their money. We'll pretend it's something. We don't feel we know you, we're not really responsible, so it's OK to rook you out of a bunch of money for some computer generated specials and that same story we did last year changed up to fit this year. We''l give it a glamorous title (like "financial advisor") but it's really the same thing we were doing before...and we'll sell it to you again. Not that old producers didn't recycle, oh yeah they did, but they invested something
even still in the assembly line. These new fellows now have to pay that 'financial advisor' sitting on his butt telling them that a remake would be a good option. They don't believe in investing in the very thing that would make them special - talent, trust of the public, something different or new. Poor us, the movie studios say, our overheads are so high we CAN'T give you something really new because we have to keep this ball in the air....paying the advisor... and we'll be gone before you can say Superman 14, so who cares if you've seen it before? I've got my severance package. I'd rather call in a consulting firm and blow all the money down the tubes that way than actually to hire talent who might create something radical (The school board did something like this in our town with Alice's school 3 years ago...Spent money "to save money" and we are reaping the pain from that poor decision still). Leave teaching in the hands of the teachers and principals who actually KNOW how to do it. Leave moviemaking to the artists, and we'd see some incredible things.
I think that the gene pool in Hollywood has shrunk so much due to the lack of other inspirational formats (no radio, straitened finances on Broadway, artists going straight to the media themselves), that the studios are literally copying themselves trying to figure out what the secret formula is to produce nothing and get a bunch of money for it. They don't know where to go for inspiration. Isn't that the definition of a producer? Inspiration costs, either in sweat or in talent, or in money or in failure and the studios will never risk failure anymore, nor will they risk "new". They go to foreign films, because they see the rest of the world as Hollywood's proving ground, not a place where they might have actual art happening. Only a best seller will get the audiences roped in. They are thinking inside the box and the box is in a lead vault inside a safe, and gues what? the box...it's empty.
The big budget folks don't even think they have to give us anything
anymore. A barren, pre-chewed idea dribbled through a sieve is enough for a movie. They just want us roped and tied in our seats, like the poor schmo who answered the phone from the bank and got roped into buying another account and a visit with the finance advisor who doesn't really care. There is precious little imagination or heart left in Hollywood, and certainly no trust. It's run by bankers. Until they start using the independents and creative minded people who seem whacko to inspire them, instead of relying on the same old story that's already been made ten times, but worked only twice, movies will be churned out as basically spin offs of themselves, and we'll keep spinning our wheels wanting to see quality product.
Sorry. Whew! I probably just alienated everyone here. Please if this doesn't make any sense, don't hold it against me.