You Want Some Control, You've Got To Keep It Small
In his latest column, James Pinkerton explores "The Importance of DIY Movies":
As a movie critic for TCS Daily, I sometimes feel like a bicyclist at a Harley-Davidson convention: My presence is tolerated, people are friendly enough, but I'm not exactly necessary. I know that most TCSers want to get their brain-motors running, reading-wise, on heavy-metal issues of technology and society. And any techster today knows that movies are just a small part of the show -- a legacy medium, shrinking relative to the endlessly proliferating content to be found online.This is something I spotted back in March, when I wrote:
Hollywood is rapidly becoming just another niche entertainment product. And as it rewards films that are aimed at coastal niche audiences, and critically shuns the movies that reached the widest viewers, it has only itself to blame.For Pinkerton, the manifestation of this new reality in action is "the trend toward do-it-yourself -- or at least do-it-without-Hollywood -- moviemaking and distributing.":
One such samizdat film is a documentary, "Border War," produced by David Bossie, president of Citizens United, a DC-based activist group. Bossie, a veteran conservative activist, told me that about five years ago he decided to "do something different" to promote his beliefs. And so he traveled out to Hollywood, got turned on to documentaries, and started making them -- nobody told him he couldn't.Libertas has written on numerous occasions that documentaries are indeed often the best place for a budding filmmaker to start. Just ask seminal DIYer Stanley Kubrick, who was shooting cheapie newsreels for RKO 17 years before MGM handed him $10.5 million to shoot 2001: A Space Odyssey. (Back in 1968, believe it or not youngsters, $10.5 mil was serious money in Hollywood, funding an entire big-budget Cinerama movie, from cast to catering. Now it's half of one movie's B+ level star's salary.)
But I digress. Back to Pinkerton's look at David Bossie:
The best known of his documentaries so far is "Celsius 41.11: The Temperature at Which the Brain... Begins to Die," a response, of course, to Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 911." And while Bossie didn't win any Oscars, he did make a splash, even turning a profit for his group.Only a few days before the niche-solidifying Oscars, I interviewed conservative documentarian Evan Coyne Maloney. His filmmaking advice is well-worth re-reading. And as Kubrick himself once said:
The best education in film is to make one. I would advise any neophyte director to try to make a film by himself. A three-minute short will teach him a lot. I know that all the things I did at the beginning were, in microcosm, the things I'm doing now as a director and producer. There are a lot of noncreative aspects to filmmaking which have to be overcome, and you will experience them all when you make even the simplest film: business, organization, taxes, etc., etc. It is rare to be able to have an uncluttered, artistic environment when you make a film, and being able to accept this is essential.That was from 37 years ago. And if anything, "the pencil and paper level" is infinitely--infinitely--easier today than it was in 1969.
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"Ed Driscoll has been writing professionally since 1995, on topics ranging from technology to pop culture to politics. Sadly, he no longer wants his MTV."--The Weekly Standard.com
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