Top Of The Heap Dept.

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2014-10-11 15:00:00-04:00 No comments

Long week, not much blogarithm. But some insight: dammit, I seem to be contradicting myself. Very well, I contradict myself, multitudes and all that. Still, spotting it and singling it out is always a worthy exercise.

Exhibit A for the jury (and judge, and executioner): the other day I was gabbling about how everything is turning into overbudgeted comic book movies blah blah, and then in barely the next breath, talked about how creative filmmaking finds a way blah blah, and then in barely the next breath after that, mentioned that it would be nice if some of those creative-filmmaking-at-all-odds folks didn't have to rattle their cups for dimes on the boulevard just to get something made, all because it didn't happen to have Save The Cat dynamics and wasn't adapted from a comic book or a bestseller.

Now trace that line of thinking backwards: If creative filmmaking finds a way, isn't it a waste of energy to complain about how those guys don't get the gravy?

Well, no: that's a little like saying just because some people get out of poverty and become millionaires, there's no inherent disadvantage to being poor. In the same way, the fact that a few plucky souls still put their original vision on the screen doesn't say anything about the way the rest of the system seems all the more interested with each passing day in simply recycling what's available. The stuff that gets the shelf space, the stuff that gets the fastest word-of-mouth, the stuff that gets the most attention and, sadly, accolades, is the stuff that has the most promotion behind it — and that stuff tends to be whatever is easiest and least complex to promote, either because you have an audience that has pre-selected itself for it, or because it's made up of things easily labeled.

Some of this, I know, is useless and not even new: when has it ever not been Hollywood's function to buy talent and properties, no matter where they may be found or what form they come in? But the latest incarnation of all this bugs me in a way I'm deeply uneasy about, in big part because it all feels like part of a general move away from storytelling and towards concepts.

Another way to put this: the emphasis is away from storytelling, and towards marketing. The product itself becomes less important than the act of getting it sold, getting it in front of people, and creating a self-perpetuating machine for its consumption. Some of this, I guess, is unavoidable — "From the studio that brought you _____" is pretty powerful marketing, really — but that ought to be one of the convenient side effects of such a system, not its prime mover.

Tags: creativity marketing