“Will you bite the hand that feeds you? Will you live down on your knees?” – Nine Inch Nails
Today’s mainstream films are caught in a maddening loop of redundancy. The market has been allowed to dictate the material instead of it truly responding the desires of its public, or presenting them with new ideas. And when commerce rules anything in society, it goes without saying that money will be the driving force behind most decisions. Why would a profit-based industry produce anything but the safest, most high-yeild material regardless of the quality of its content? What is the motivaion of big Hollywood studios, notorious for financial irresponsibility, to make anything of substance when films like Transformers and Avatar shatter all box office records again-and-again? The answer is, none. But let’s come back to the filmmaker, who wants to earnestly engage in his/her chosen artform and tell stories or to document life. Regardless of the filmmaker’s artistic integrity, economic needs will force one to sooner-or-later produce material along the same lines as what the “big guys” are doing, thus compromising their vision by always coming back to traditional cinematic “safe zones” both from a technical and storytelling perspective.
Even when pursuing the purest form of thought and concept in filmmaking, we are often prone to imitating our heroes. Film is particularly obsessed with nostalgia, even down to film production techniques and structures, which have almost remained unchanged since the 1940’s.This is not necessarily a problem mind you; traditional roles on a set are still there because they have proven themselves to be valuable, and occasionally a new role (such as a DIT) will appear to fulfill some kind of a new technological role that has become crucial to the well-oiled film production machine. But the question is, have productions models become complacent? Are we being as efficient as possible while promoting an environment of creativity and quality? Is too much money being wasted to make production look “legit” rather than because it is necessary? Cinema must look ahead in all of its aspects. We need to re-think our relationship with the technology while staying grounded and remembering what made stories worth telling. Noe matter how you spin it one thing is almost for certain; cinema is going to have to get out of its comfort zone.