When I was younger, I made an incredible effort to see every movie that came out. It was something very important to me, because films spoke to me on a visceral level. I can't really say what it was about them that impressed me, the music, the acting, the action, the drama, the humor, etc. Or maybe it was the combination of those things that created a truly inspiring experience. It's probably why I ended up in the film business. For some car fanatics, it's hearing the roar of their first engine, for pilots it's hearing the roar of their first Jet, for me it was the John Williams Score, with John Barry's Art Direction, and George Lucas' directing. Star Wars was the first film I ever saw. And it made me fall in love with films.
When I say I made an effort to see every movie that came out, I mean it. I spent most of my time walking the aisles of the video store looking at every video and if I hadn't seen it, I'd pick it up and rent it. From C.H.U.D. to La Dolce Vida, from Indiana Jones to Dr. Strangelove. It didn't matter what movie it was, I wanted to see it. As the 80's video market grew more and more there were films being made that I'd watch and say, "Man that sucked." But those were flukes, most of the films I would see were really good. And of course "Good" is such a subjective term, but most of the films were made with a certain "Quality." And the "Bad" ones were few and far between.
Then, a shift happened. A lot of films were no longer made because films makers wanted a voice for their art, they were being made to meet a bottom line, to solely turn a profit. They had become a commodity, like music, and the ethos of making a "Great Film" subsided and was hijacked by the ethos of making a "Profit Margin." Now of course, one can make the argument that, that is why people make films, to make money, and my side of the argument is, then they shouldn't make films, they should make Printers, or Television sets. Film, in my mind is an artistic medium, just as music, or painting is. And when you bastardize an art form, to monetize it, you lose something. You lose that special thing that made spending two hours of your life watching someones vision worth while.
As I've grown older something strange happened. When I learned how to make records, I stopped buying records. When I became part of the film making process, I stopped buying movies. When I became a knife maker, I stopped buying knives. I'm not sure if I'm the only one who has had that experience, but that has been my progression through expressing myself. Once I learn how the magic is made, I am no longer compelled to digest other peoples magic, but I'm compelled to make it myself. Although their have been a very select works from people in the film, music and art world that I have made the effort to watch or listen to, but on the whole, I just don't feel compelled to make the effort any more. Now here is where I have found a dilemma. I don't know if it truly is because I've learned how to do it, so my pleasure is now found in the process of doing it myself, or have I been disappointed so many times in modern day film making, that I just don't make the effort, because I'm not sure if it will be worth the time?
When I was younger, the idea of a Mad Max movie, or a Star Wars movie coming out, I would run through traffic to go see it. Nowadays, a lot of these films, I find myself watching them on a plane because it's on the inflight program. Or I'll watch it because it finally comes out on Netflix, and before I sleep I like to watch a movie. Maybe I'm just getting older and my fascination is gone. Maybe it's just because I know why certain movies are being made and I just don't care anymore. I'm truly not sure why. But, I find myself searching through Netflix or Hulu for older films. Films from the 50's, 60's, 70's. Why is that? Nostalgia? Can't be, some of the films I've found were never on the video shelves when I was a kid. I had never even heard of them. So it can't be nostalgia. Maybe it's because a lot films had a deeper meaning back then. Sure, there were people whose only goal was to make money, but still there was something different, something special that is very sparse these days. Does that mean film makers today don't care? I don't know. I do. I know when I make a film, I really give a shit, and try my best to make it art. So their must be people out there who still want to make art.
I'm not sure, but as the monetization of art progresses, I tend to think the quality has shifted. I also am someone who believes in order for things to change for the better, things have to run their full cycle, in order for them to be reborn.
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