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Thread: Old git-ism

  1. #1
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    Default Old git-ism

    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 . . .

  2. #2
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    I wrote something similar a few months ago. The crux of what I (and to a certain extent, you) have said is that the lack of bariers to entry mean that anyone can make and distribute a 'film'.

    Take away a lot of the hard work involved in getting something off the ground and you open up a world of oppurtunities for those that don't have an ounce of talent. On the flip side, you also open up a world of opportunities to those that do...

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    I tend to think of videos like babies: They're fun to conceive, painful to produce and everyone thinks that theirs is the best ever.

    Strangely, I don't subscribe to the school of thought which insists that all film-makers start by sweeping the studio floor. I do subscribe to the theory that those who are willing to start by sweeping the studio floor are the ones who end up being the best film-makers.

    Think of the modern "greats" such as Spielberg, Scorcese, De Palma and Coppola. These were geeks who spent every waking minute watching films, making films or working (sweeping the studio floor) to be near film making.
    Great "has-beens" such as Ken Russell can't live without making films. Even when he became to "off the wall" to get any finances or interest from distributors. This great genuis, now ignored by the mainstream studios, has continued making movies (at first on 16mm and now on video) for years and years, using amateur actors, friends, students and neighbours.

    Why?

    Because he has to. He couldn't live without making movies.

    I'm far too modest to say that I supported myself through film school by working weekends in a photographers, doing weddings on Saturday, developing on Sunday and evenings as a local newspaper photographer but it was all experience which still comes in handy. (aw shucks I've gone and done it now) This enables me to spot the wannabee and the gonnabe. One wants to work in film, the other wants to make films.
    Massive difference.
    Last edited by Rembrandt Rob; 01-06-2007 at 06:23 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marc Peters View Post
    I wrote something similar a few months ago. The crux of what I (and to a certain extent, you) have said is that the lack of bariers to entry mean that anyone can make and distribute a 'film'.

    Take away a lot of the hard work involved in getting something off the ground and you open up a world of oppurtunities for those that don't have an ounce of talent. On the flip side, you also open up a world of opportunities to those that do...
    I think that people who really have real talent will find outlets for it anyway, whatever obstacles the world puts in their way . . . , but that's certainly not me matey, I do it because I like it, and sometimes get paid small amounts of dosh for it! The reality is that very, very few people have a talent big enough to be remembered, except by the few. Everyone with a serious interest in film can quote some directors names, but they tend to be the same ones; when Hollywood was producing many films every week, and the UK more than one, dozens of directors did a workmanlike job day in and day out . . . . how good were some of them? We'll never know, any more than we know much about TV directors, whose job is just as serious and important, but whose name just flashes past on the roll.

    I don't say too much to the people who talk about equipment first, because an Arri Super16 (38K, no lens or other optional extras - like a viewfinder) won't compose a better shot than a secondhand JVC from ebay, 100.
    I try to make someone happy every day - but it may not be your turn today . . .

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    I suppose I ought to amend the above to read as "film-maker" rather than director - I suppose I still rather subscribe to the views of the autuers of the nouvelle vague, in so far as I believe than for most films, especially non-commercial ones or not very commercial ones, there are one or two people who drive them on from start to finish. That's someone I'd call a film-maker.
    Last edited by Marc Peters; 01-07-2007 at 11:09 AM.
    I try to make someone happy every day - but it may not be your turn today . . .

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    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisG View Post
    how good were some of them? We'll never know, any more than we know much about TV directors, whose job is just as serious and important, but whose name just flashes past on the roll.
    I've in some way affected the lives of countless thousands in my real world job, yet no credits whatsoever roll when this happens. More importantly, when a doctor saves the life of a patient, said patient doesn't get handed a piece of paper with a list of all the people that helped (right down to the cleaner on duty that night). When you put that into context, you gotta laugh at credits. So what if Joanna Right picked out the wigs for the third scene of Blade?

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    A quickie on the same theme. What really miffs me in studio productions (TV) is when, in the end credits, the runners, make-up, assistant floor managers (gofers) and even the publicist gets mentioned but the camera-crew? Nowhere to be seen.

    I would say that modern technology has become a poisoned chalice. The cheap nature of entry level equipment means that anyone can make a video but the fact that it's technically easy to make a video results in a lot of rubbish. The bottom line is that the few gems are hidden under a pile of manure.
    It used to be the case that all short films were worth watching, because the effort involved in making them meant that only enthusiastic film-makers (or auters) managed to finish a project. Unfortunately it's now so easy to make a video that it's become a hobby for every teenager who just wants a break from computer games. I suspect that if a task is too easy, you put less effort into it and the result is weaker. At the risk of sounding like a grumpy old git, if a job's worth doing, it's worth doing well.

    I'm not saying that movie-making should be restricted to a select elite but, to quote Beuys "everyone is an artist... but not everyone is a good artist."
    Last edited by Rembrandt Rob; 01-07-2007 at 12:38 PM.

  8. #8
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    I think I'd say yes to that, Robin!

    I suppose in response, Marc, I'd say that the people who "matter" know . . so it the film buffs who know about moviemakers, and the medic who know about what kind of jobs their colleagues do. And it is their appreciation that matters.

    I'd rather get approbation from some of the people here (and some of the people who sign cheques!) than from the most people, or a lot of people.
    I try to make someone happy every day - but it may not be your turn today . . .

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