Opening my own business recently, it has helped me to view the world in a different way. I find myself thinking about the owners of big businesses when watching television programs and such; figureheads like Donald Trump, Dana White of the UFC, my own uncle who has made his name in the same field as I and Robert Evans. Having my own troubles with employees, you realize just how tough men like that have to be – because I have to say; if you don’t watch yourself your employees and people around you will walk all over you. Directors, producers and even writers all have to continually keep up with this mindset as well. From conception to direction; filmmaking is the art of bringing a story to life for the sake of entertainment but in the hands of many others. This is where the bullheaded mindset simply has to exist; for without a guiding hand helping all of the various ideas for what the conception of a film should be melt into the same pot – everything simply falls apart.
Things like this have been running through my mind and I begin to wonder where the art of filmmaking begins and where commerce and entertainment end. There are filmmakers out there who fight for the total opposite of anything commercial; and David Lynch’s Inland Empire comes to mind at this point and it blows my mind how something such as that film finds the financial backing that it does; but never the less I am glad that such films do find the backing that they deserve. Despite Inland Empire not making any sense to me I’m just glad that something with as large a financial basis (by indie standards; not Hollywood) can still be made when in Hollywood the dollar drives the market – and as a business owner myself; I can’t really argue with that system. Businessmen are there to make money; as it should be – but I’m just glad that there is enough audience out there to convince the powers that be to invest in such a highly… well, insane, sort of film.
Such situations go to show, that much like our rating system where if you want to make it there truly is no judging body to prevent you from making it (with very few restrictions… although I have heard of some cases against Brazillian scatalogical pornography being banned… which even I find hard to support the right to film and distribute such horrors) – it goes to show that if you can build the audience and are ambitious enough; there are those out there willing to shill out money for it if the money is guaranteed to be reimbursed with profit. Not exactly breaking knowledge there, but there are those who believe in one thing or another. Is cinema a form of art, commerce, entertainment? The answer is that it is all things in one. Has been since the very beginning. With so few limitations within the US film system, whether you are working with a budget or whether or not your funds are limited to whatever you can sell off at the pawn shop – the only true limit of making a piece of art that embodies your feelings is yourself and your ability. However, that does not guarantee audiences will be interested in your goods; but that’s part of the fun of indie filmmaking I suppose. Finding just what you are made of and how you stack up against your average audiences. Well… I suppose that’s less like fun and more like mass horror for the poor young filmmakers out there with their butts on the line and loans hanging over their heads. However, it is what it is and the only limitations are within yourself.
I would like to end this short article in saying that although there is a business to all forms of art; only if you allow that to affect your output is it ever an issue. If your idea of entertainment is sawing a woman’s head off for ninenty minutes or if that’s simply what you want to film – then just don’t invest heavily by all means. A low budget can sometimes be a blessing in disguise. This whole conversation reminds me of a quote, and I’ll go ahead and end on it since it’s always rang true with me.
“When I came down here to talk to the MPAA about ratings, it was still a relief compared to what happens in Ontario is that they take your picture, they take every print – and they cut it and they hand it back to you and say ‘this is your new movie’. They keep the pieces that they’ve taken out and you go to jail for two years if those are projected – if you put the pieces back. That’s real censorship. What you’ve got here, no matter how imperfect it may be, at least you still have the option of releasing it as an X. I know there are huge economic sanctions against doing that and you usually have a contractual obligation not to have an X – none the less, if you really want it to be an X you can still get it shown here. In Canada you go to jail.”
David Cronenberg 1982