Moviemaking's Getting to Be All Style and No Substance

Question: Do screenwriters have to choose between writing \r\neither an indie passion project or a shallow blockbuster?

Danny\r\n Rubin:  Yes and no.  It’s a false choice because you never know \r\nwhat's going to work.  Trying to guess what will please the industry, \r\nwhether it’s the indie industry or the commercial industry is almost \r\nimpossible and trying to do that is a fool’s errand.  So, in the end, \r\nyou should just do what you want and see who salutes it. 

On the\r\n other hand, it’s constantly a choice.  You're seduced by wanting to \r\nwrite a very blockbuster hit.  The kind of thing that would have mass \r\nappeal and would be most likely to be accepted by the studios because \r\nthat’s where most of the money is and the biggest chance of getting a \r\nthing produced.  But, that’s not necessarily going to work.  And same \r\nwith going the indie route, the indie market is very particular.  If \r\nyou’ve got a story with a dysfunctional family or drugs or some weird \r\nkind of sexual relationship, you're in.  That’s the indie world.  If \r\nyou're just trying to do a particularly intelligent commercial studio \r\nfilm, that’s what - I had a manager who called those the tweeners.  The \r\nsort of between indie film and Hollywood films and it’s - nobody wants \r\nit.  It’s going to be difficult to place.  It all comes down to luck.

But,\r\n if it’s written skillfully, it all comes down to luck anyway.  That \r\nskillful thing has a chance of making it and it might never be noticed \r\nat all.  I’m constantly trying to figure out how to be as commercial as \r\npossible and still be original.  Those are movies that I like.  It’s not\r\n just because I’m trying to please some market.  But, those are the \r\nmovies I most enjoy and so that’s what I’m trying to create and it’s not\r\n - the other method that some writers take is one for me, one for them. \r\n

Okay, this is my heart project and I’m going to make it very \r\ntrue to myself and consistent with my beliefs and my artistic \r\nsensibilities.  Maybe someone will make it, maybe someone won't, but I \r\nwill feel good writing it and then I’ll finish that and then I’ll write a\r\n vampire movie.  And so, one for me, one for them and you can write a \r\nscreenplay quickly enough that that is an acceptable way to go through \r\nyour professional like.  You can get through year after year like that. \r\n

What current trends in moviemaking do you \r\ndislike?

Danny Rubin: It does seem that it’s all about\r\n style.  There's very little substance.  It’s telling the same old \r\nstories, but with a new kind of visual panache and that’s okay, but \r\nthat’s seems to - it’s like candy and that seems to be the tendency.  \r\nNot to even attempt anything more ambitious content-wise, but they're \r\nalways trying new ambitious things in terms of style.  So, that’s kind \r\nof fun, but I’m tired of it and kind of like many people, growing \r\ncynical about movies and would like to see more movies of substance that\r\n have stories to tell that affect my life in some way.

Recorded on May 12, 2010
Interviewed by Paul Hoffman

The tendency seems to be toward telling the same old stories with a new kind of "visual panache." The screenwriter wants to see "more movies of substance."

  • What distinguishes humans is social learning — and teaching.
  • Crucial to learning and teaching is the value of free expression.
  • And we need political leaders who support environments of social peace and cooperation.

New study finds the egg may actually 'choose' the Sperm

Here's the first evidence to challenge the "fastest sperm" narrative.

Keep reading Show less
Big Think
Sponsored by Lumina Foundation

Upvote/downvote each of the videos below!

As you vote, keep in mind that we are looking for a winner with the most engaging social venture pitch - an idea you would want to invest in.

Keep reading Show less