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Is Our Film Culture Designed To Create Corporate Hucksters?
By Ted Hope
Sometimes it serves us to let our dark paranoia run rampant. I have always had a love affair with conspiracy theories, but it is one of longing more than indulgence. If only governments and people in general cared enough about other people to actually strategize to the extent needed to control things to the level most conspiracy theories fantasize. But maybe instead of politics and community being the focus, the conspiracies exist in the pursuit of profit. Sometimes looking at the result of business structures as their intent instead of their coincidental effect sheds further light on a complicated situation.
We all know that there is a substantial flaw to our film infrastructure: artists and their supporters are not rewarded for the work they generate. I speak of this as a problem. If the industry actually tried to make sure that the people who made the work benefited from the work, we’d have more money in the system, and it would probably be smarter money (that knew enough to let the filmmakers have creative control — or at least more of it) at that. But all evidence points to the fact that the film industry wants to prevent creators from financially benefiting from their work. We can change that (and I am going to try), but that’s for another post about why I have chosen to work for a not-for-profit.
Let’s let our dark side work for us for a moment: if the model is not broken, but actually works, what is it trying to do? Why would the film business not want creators to benefit? Is it to give more people the opportunity to become filmmakers and investors since the current system virtually drives out all the experienced filmmakers and investors? Ah, alas, much evidence exists to show that access and opportunity is not of interest to film business leaders (like the disproportional representation of white males — such as myself). So what could it be?
What happens to those that survive in the film business? If filmmakers can’t survive by making feature films, how do they survive? There’s been one business strand that long has been there with a helping hand to the creative class and it seems like even our greats have long had to indulge in their offerings. Is the whole of film culture designed to create cinematic masters who then must be slaves to Madison Avenue and their international equivalents?
Evidently these bank commercials were the last films Fellini ever made, and they aired after he died.
I don’t think commercials kill directors, but I do think everything we do changes us. It may be wonderful to have funding to play, but I always struggle with what my labor is in service to. How we use our is not only a political (or apolitical) act, but a declaration of what we feel matters, what we dream our world to be able to come, our willingness to fight for the culture we want. Survival is a tough game to play. It changes us the longer we engage. How do we maintain our mission when trinkets shine so bright?
And the film infrastructure seems to willingly grant the commercial powers not just the opportunity, but the determined outcome, to seduce our top seducers. Can a support structure ever be built to let artists do what they truly do best and most want to do?
Roman & Francis Ford Coppola:
Jean Luc Godard:
This is particularly ironic: evidently Woody’s note translates as “delicious lifestyle”. Do we want a world where it is absolutely impossible for a filmmaker to remain true to their form? If someone only wanted to direct feature films, would that even be financially possible?Tweet