Film producer Ted Hope, who is stepping down as executive director of San Francisco Film Society at the end of this year, recently listed over 30 "really good things" that happened in the indie film business in 2013. But the year in indie film wasn't all roses and sunshine. Hope emphasized the good in his prior post and now he takes a look at the bad. He's given us permission to republish 15 of his "bad things" below, but you can read all 30 "really bad things" here.
I have given my thanks so now it's that time of the year when I get to complain about what's wrong -- and what hasn't yet been fixed. I have done this before (several times), but this is that post on where we are right now. Like always, I suggest you don't forget that lists like these only make the foolish despair. After all, we can build it better together. Let’s take this post as an action list. All are opportunities to truly ToDo. It does not need to be this way.
1. The film business lives in Bizarro World, thinking we do something for the love of it, but in fact creating something far far far away from what we actually love -- and thus making it so much harder to do what we love in the process. We have turned our strengths into our weaknesses. The worst of course is we now take it for granted that this is how it is and this is what the film biz needs be (if you are not fully following me here, I suggest you click on the link above). It's not and it doesn't but I don't hear a whole lot of folks saying we need a complete systems reboot of the whole film ecosystem (see #2).
2. It's not enough to just think outside the box. The box is a trap and a false representation of a reality. We have to break the box, probably smash it to bits and then build a better box together. The red pill or the blue? We have chosen the wrong one and we fail to recognize the cultural factors weighing on film culture and build for that. Recognize the false construct and see through the matrix. This is the reality. And we are now poised to forever be slaves to it, versus living in a far preferable world where we would use these truths to deliver a better world (as we should).
3. The corporate suits see NO business in art. They have removed the bowtie from the building. It should be Schamus. They have determined that blockbusters are the safest bet, even if yields a Lone Ranger regularly. Studios will make films for the world, and what travels is not beautiful. Expect more loud, fast, dumb.
4. Film is no longer the penultimate pop culture art form. Be it video games or television, it seems pretty clear that cinema has lost the battle, both critically and commercially. Sure there is plenty of good stuff to watch and play, but when they kicked out the throne, it meant the next generation of possible saviors also just opted for another field.
5. Successful artists can not support themselves through their work. We've known for a long time that most of us can't but it did seem like once someone had made it, they were safe. Those days are over too. We have our poster boy in David Byrne speaking up and out that "the internet will suck all creative content out of the world". What we have now does not work for anyone but the global corporate powerhouses. Our culture is threatened. We can no longer permit the wholesale exploitation of our creative classes. There needs to be a global action.
6. The interests of the artists & the "stores" that sell our work are no longer aligned. The largest distributors and stores have no real incentive to actually sell good work, yet the best way for artists to survive and create a regular supply of great work is to be fairly compensated for it. Okay, this may be far more true in the music business, but they experience everything the film biz does, only a few years ahead. And there the business is either to sell computer products or gain audience base so you can flip it and make a mint. Read this.
7. Superabundance not only applies to content but also to platforms. There are now more than 500 video on demand services available in the EU dedicated mainly or wholly to feature film. Options and choice are generally a good thing, but it can also lead people to shut down and not take action. Ultimately we need to know where to go to connect us with what we want. We need to create the promise of a good experience and not further confusion of the what, where, and when.