“There’s always been a struggle between art and commerce. And now I’m telling you, art is getting its ass kicked.”
– Studio 60
For quite a few years now I’ve been stuck in a relationship that hasn’t been working. Where once I was so in love, now I only pretend. I struggle to be enthusiastic and when people ask, ‘is everything okay?’ I tell them ‘yes, everything’s fine.’
But the truth is, I’ve fallen out of love with the movies. Sure, I have sneaky one-night stands with old films (just last night I spent two hours with Marilyn Monroe) and it still excites me a great deal. But when it comes to the new stuff I struggle to feel pleasure, and I don’t have the stamina for two hours. It’s not totally my fault – the new movies may look sexy, but they have no substance. I’m after something meaningful, but they just want my money.
The news that Woody Allen has signed on to do a TV series with Amazon is huge, and in many ways feels like a real nail in the coffin of the film industry. Let’s face it, the auteurs have been struggling for years. The best writers shifted over to TV and who can blame them?
There was an article in the Guardian a few days back which emphasized just how difficult things have become for screenwriters. Hollywood is notorious for buying up scripts and then firing the writers, bringing in people to punch up the scripts to fit the format of what has worked before.
According to Forbes, 27 films in cinema this year will be sequels. Worse still, 11 of them are sequels to films released in 2012. “The movie year of 2015 is in-effect a sequel to the movie year of 2012.”
The films I grew up loving, the ones that made me want to become a screenwriter and director, they just don’t exist anymore. The middle-ground has been ripped out of the film industry, a situation summed up perfectly by Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner, who said in the New York Times, “I don’t blame the artistic community. I really don’t. Something happened that nobody can make a movie between $500,000 and $80million.”
Woody Allen has moved over to Amazon and it’s the perfect home for him. He’s struggled with funding for years now – practically becoming an auteur-on-tour, shipping himself off to foreign lands where people are willing to throw up some cash to fund his projects. It never crossed my mind that he might move to TV but now that he has, it seems the perfect (and obvious) fit.
We have a flourishing independent film scene. Micro-budget projects being built from the ground up, mostly through crowdfunding. And we have the huge superhero movies, but the in-betweens, the films that people really care about, have vanished. You can tell me people care about the superheroes, but there’s a reason they’re called popcorn movies. They taste good at first but they’re too expensive and provide absolutely no nourishment.
The money’s gone. And so, for the most part, has the creativity. Luckily, many great minds have gone in to TV. But just as many have gone into advertising. It’s not that they wanted to, it’s just there was nowhere else to go. Flavorwire wrote a wonderfully in depth article about how an entire generation of iconic filmmakers have gone MIA. The sad fact is, they’re not missing, they just sold you a Volvo.
Despite my falling out of love with movies, I still think about them often. Every now and then I consider seeing them again, and I won’t say there hasn’t been a new film or two, but I don’t feel ready for a commitment. The movies need to make some big changes before the likes of you and me can put our trust in them again. We’ve been hurt too many times.
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