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Keeping Art Alive in the Movies

Question: How can films stay artistically vital in the coming \r\ndecades?

John Cameron Mitchell:  We’re in a strange \r\npocket of time where we don’t know how films, films haven’t yet been, \r\nthere’s no comprehensive way of delivering films digitally to \r\neveryone—i.e. all films on demand, quickly, easily, cheaply.  Movie \r\ntheaters don’t have digital projection yet, which means there’s \r\nfinancial constraints for certain films that right now are doing well, \r\nbut because of the economics, doesn’t make sense to make prints for \r\nother theaters.  It’s just better to show them on demand, in the \r\ntheater, on DVD, as the day and date situation, which means everything, \r\nyou know, you can see it in different forms all on the same day.  Which \r\nis what I see in HD Net and other companies are doing more, which may be\r\n the future, looks like the future.

So right now, people aren’t, \r\ncan’t quite figure out how to make money on the small films, you know, \r\nthere’s the fear that the product’s being devalued and people don’t feel\r\n like they have to pay for films the way they have for music over the \r\nlast few years, so that’s going to be very difficult to... you know, \r\nwill that change, will people... I think the only way it will change is \r\nif they figure out that technology immediately, and all the companies \r\nagreeing on a single way to deliver the films by broadband to people’s \r\nTV’s.

So, that kind of stuff is making, there’s probably a third \r\nthe number of the films being made, small films, all films, than there \r\nwere two years ago.  And they tend toward the giant, you know, 3D kind \r\nof thing, genre thing, Hollywood thing, or the other side, which is \r\nsmall films packed with stars, in a low budget, less than 10 million, \r\nand there’s also this opportunity for very cheap films to lead the way, \r\nperhaps in quality, but also in... economically, it’s like how they’re \r\ndelivered.  So films made for less than half a million, you’ll see a lot\r\n more of.  You’ll see them over 100 million and less than a half a \r\nmillion and not as much in the middle.  Stars seem to be less important \r\nfor what people want to see now than they used to be.  They don’t \r\nguarantee grosses any more, which I think in a way is probably a relief,\r\n but it’s confusing for the studios, people aren’t sure of where to put \r\ntheir money.

\r\nUnfortunately, it takes time for good filmmakers to develop, there’s not\r\n too many whose first films fully develop because you need so many \r\nskills, musical, actor, financial, visual, you know, it’s not just like \r\nwriting a song, you can have people who are, you know, prodigies, \r\nmusically, but in a way you have to have prodigies, people who can do \r\nall kinds of things in order to be a good director.  So, the first film \r\nisn’t always the best.  Once in a while you’ll have someone very unusual\r\n will come out, like Jonathan Caouette, who did "Tarnation," or you \r\nknow, Tarantino... when he, you know, "Reservoir Dogs," or someone who \r\nseems to have mastered it on their first go, and those are very, those \r\nare rare.  But it’s, you know, the David Lynches of the world and \r\nScorsese and such made a lot of shorts and made some early films that \r\nwere finding their way before they made their "Taxi Driver" or their, \r\nyou know, "Blue Velvet."

So, it’s easier to make films now, \r\ntechnologically, financially, you know, the equipment is there for young\r\n people to do it.  There is the Internet for distribution, but how do \r\nyou make money while you’re doing it, is the piece of the puzzle that’s \r\nstill to be figured out.
\r\n
\r\nRecorded on May 3, 2010
\r\nInterviewed by Austin Allen

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