A friend of mine sent me a link of an article stating that Revolver went down the toilet. He also went on to say that it was a good thing they were out of business as they were fleecing people but let’s face it; the distribution industry is full of rip off merchants and badly paying sharks. For those that are old enough to remember there was Palace Pictures run (badly!) by Nik Powell and Stephen Woolley which released seminal classics like Evil Dead, the early John Woo films and a host of others who went under leaving a lot of people out of pocket. Ironically the biggest hit in their history, The Crying Game, was released after their bankruptcy by Miramax who sold it cleverly on the ‘willy surprise’. This windfall would have saved Palace but only for the short term, as they were really bad when it came to bookkeeping and would only have postponed their inevitable death. Miramax themselves (prior to selling out to Disney) were another distributer notable for its financial banditry but champions of films that would otherwise never reach a wide audience.
But not on a television near you…..
I am working on an extremely good short film where the talent consists of four Black and Asian actors and the sterling work on display will be travelling the short film circuit and more pretty soon.
Everyone knows that these short films are a showcase to get better work but in some cases the diverse talent have a great calling card for parts that don’t exist in mainstream television. Why? Simply because the commissioners aren’t pushing through material that is relevant to modern Britain.
I will plainly say that there is racial bias in television at the moment and even though this is being addressed constantly by the powers that be, nothing is really being done about it to level the landscape.
When will the talent that is showcased in in these finely crafted shorts translate to television where they belong To be seen by a proper mainstream audience? When will writing that is worthy of their talents be pushed into production?
Again, I have addressed American television in being broad in diverse talent and much to my chagrin black and asian talent is migrating there to get good parts.
Change will happen but not in mainstream media but in the digital realm but before then stop the talent drain.
I was chatting to a guy I know and he was worried that with the advent of cheap digital cameras and edit suites, his skills in the professional world would be diminished. How can a filmmaker shine with so much content being made? What brought on all this paranoia? Well, we separately just watched the doc, Side by Side about the transition of the chemical film process to digital, which has polarized the film community.
My personal view is that it’s a great thing for a number of reasons. I started when you shot on film as “that was the way” and it was bloody expensive to get the film processed and this limited to how much you could shoot. You really needed some heavy cash behind you to afford such luxuries. In terms of editing, I also had the fortune back then to work for a post house that had invested in an Avid (retail: 80 grand!), which was an immense cost saver. Some filmmakers weren’t so lucky.
I still love the look of film and am more than happy that digital is now at a better quality compared to Spike Lee’s Bamboozled and Mike Figgis early digital efforts. Even though these filmmakers were pioneers their films still looked like digital video and hence flat and inferior. Now, Red and Arri have both closed the gap and for me the peak so far is the lush quality of Skyfall. It helps that people like Steven Soderbergh and David Fincher try to push the digital limits for quality so the audience benefits.
Starting on film is a great learning curve for me because you were physically have to splice the film (I cut on a Steenbeck!) so you had to really think about the cuts you were going to have to make otherwise you have to unpick the film and start again. Every film editor will also say that when you spool through a 500 foot roll you might catch something that you might use. On an NLE you tap a number and go to that scene. In digital editing you can make as many sequences and edits and to the undisciplined eye you can really get bogged down with too many options and lose sight of the film you envisioned. I have seen it with new editors when going through their bins.
The short film I recently did was a godsend due to a low budget and cheap gear! Also you have to note that just because everyone has access to cheap kit doesn’t mean it’s going to be good and there are some really dreadful shorts out there which also is good as it makes the great projects shine. The elitism of filmmaking is eroding and people like Shane Meadows get a chance to have a voice. Hell, even those from Black and Asian backgrounds can now create content which used to be the exclusivity of the middle class.
Take a look at this clip from Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse made in 1991. Francis Coppola had the same vision right there, one that I wholeheartedly share.
I thoroughly recommend watching Side by Side to see how much of a revolution is taking place