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By Charles Peirce
It would seem, to the eyes of Hollywood, the high form of film has become the franchise. It satisfies the two poles of conventional business wisdom: limiting risk as it promises more of the same, maximizing profit as it entices investors with that self-same prospect. The Hobbit is stretched out to encompass three movies, hordes of young adult novels are on the horizon, and Bob Iger suggests Frozen will now be a franchise after its huge success, but it’s hard to imagine that wasn’t always the plan. Strangely, though, two of the pioneers of the form, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, both predict doom for what they helped create. And the recent failure of The Lone Ranger (and John Carter before that) suggest they might just be right. [...]
Why did Mike DeLuca leave an incredibly successful producing career to return to the executive suite at Sony? After leaving the reigns of New Line, he produced Moneyball, The Social Network, and Captain Phillips among others. It’s hard to match his track record. Yet he too has given up producing. Why?
One can only assume the autonomy of producing is more pleasurable than the pressures of running a studio. One can also assume the confines of Sony are a hell of a lot more secure. Rarely does one gets paid their value for producing a film, and if it is a project you love and is even a wee bit challenging you are going to watch that diminished fee take another cut or five. If you want financial security or wealth, don’t be a producer.
But there’s always the back end, right? [...]
The Film Industry has historically sought out “dumb money”, people willing to make the sucker bet. This is akin to basing the global transportation system on fossil fuel — at a given time ,you run out the resource and have the joy of having destroyed your planet or culture in the process. Why are we doing this? Isn’t it time this process stopped? Can we just find the photos of those responsible now, put them on the wall, and say “These people destroyed what we once loved?”
It is as if The Studios make sport of trying to make sure that the creators and their supporters don’t earn their fair share. By now everyone knows both the tales of [...]
I can’t always be optimistic. My apologies.
I did start this HopeForFilm / TrulyFreeFilm blog in the hopes that community action could improve things for us all. My original lists of 75 problems of indie film remain relevant, alas; and with this latest addition we are almost at 100 such challenges.
But don’t be bummed, every problem is an opportunity, right? To quote the great Walt Kelly of Pogo: “We are surrounded by unsurmountable opportunities.” We just need the will, the strength, the hope, and the power to change them. 12 Steps to progress?
I admit, even blessed by my last name, even I can’t be always be optimistic, at least not if I want to also speak the truth. Sometimes throwing a brick is an act of love; you know what I mean? And granted I’ve thrown a lot of bricks at this indie film thing. What can I say? There’s a great deal really wrong with our culture these days and a hell of a lot that can hurt our business. We have to work together if we want to build it better.
Let’s get started and call these “opportunities” out (in no particular order); maybe they are not so unsurmountable after all: [...]