While doing one of the jobs I hate most this afternoon - writing a complicated digest of programme information to go in front of sponsors - I was thinking about the recent little spat we had here. It was keyed by taking a look at some of komatoast's work on his site, after the event.
I've only been back working in video for four or five years, but when I started making commercial video back in the eighties it couldn't have happened like this at all. When I was making super-8 movies, in the sixties and seventies . . . you get the idea.
The point is that now anyone can switch on a computer, which almost everyone has one of, dump in the contents of the camcorder, wack up an editing program, and you're away. Anyone can call themselves a film-maker, and I think that's great. But it's terribly easy to to think you're a great film-maker or editor, like some of the people who rip a DVD and a CD, then do a bit of cut-n-pasting, hey, man, that's creative.
Then they can nip off into Soundforge, do a remix of someone's original track, and, wow man, that's cool. I'm a musician, too . . .
Back then, making video was actually more complicated than making films (on that clear plasticy stuff). With 16mm, getting frame accuracy wasn't an issue - but to get a frame accurate cut using a player and record video (I used a Panasonic NS S-VHS pair then, with a matching edit controller), you could get a little fraught. You needed to get a reasonably accurate log of what you had on you tape to start with, and remember too that no domestic cameras would give you a time-code, and some semi-pro ones wouldn't.
Titles? External generator . . . or bits of paper!
Effects and transitions? Mixer - at S-VHS resolution, around £2k.
NOW - pay attention, class - this is where the going gets sticky. I'm not saying any on this to denigrate what anyone does here and now, or to say "you don't know how we suffered, etc".
The simple point I'm making is that deciding to try and make movies then was a real and major decision that you had to make in order to go ahead. You had to invest real money if you were going to do anything worthwhile at all, and enormous amounts of personal time and effort. The only place that money could come from was your back pocket - you had to commit to the spend in order to even begin the project.
Many of the people we now respect as film-makers took the same route. They bought second-hand little cine cameras and shot stuff. They bought a 25ft reel of film, and tried to avoid thinking about the £1 a minute cost of getting it bought and processed. They made short films, 'cos that was all they could afford to make - remember that £1 a minute film cost was paid for out a £1 an hour wage.
The outcome of this, of course, is plain to see. Spielberg was a teenage super-8er, and spent every penny he could get on making films. Eventually, it got him where he wanted to be.
Where am I going with this? Just here:
Let's have a good time and make films. Let's do do what we enjoy and enjoy what we do. BUT don't let's spend time saying hey, how great my films are, how committed to film-making I am! The films I see here that I enjoy, I'm happy to say I enjoy. The stuff I think is tosh, I'll keep schtumm about.
But to be a film-maker, you have to do all the crap jobs and stuff, too. You have to be able to raise the money to buy the kit, or make some it, or something. Now there's loads of people making films - it is easy to do. But the number of them making good films, or films I'd pay money to see . . . now there's a question for you.
I try to make someone happy every day - but it may not be your turn today . . .