A Wakeup to the “Awe(some/ful) Future” of Indy Filmmaking

Screen shot From Uproxx.comThere’s some fun and evocative smack talking going on over at Uproxx.com that caught my attention:

“Granted, some of this is entirely the fault of the indie film scene itself, which is always rife with idiocy, and these days is basically celebrating incompetence because competence is just too Hollywood, man. The hot movement, mumblecore, seriously got its name from the fact that the filmmakers lacked the technical competence to point a microphone at an actor’s mouth. And “The Room” and “Birdemic” are epic train wrecks well beyond just your standard bad movie, although they’re still better than anything the mumblecore movement craps out.

But that’s the thing. You no longer need technical competence to achieve the two main goals of indie filmmaking: getting into the pants of disaffected hot people, or making boatloads of cash. And this is both a great thing and a problem.”

The article changes tone later in the piece to basically read “don’t get me wrong, there’s gonna be a lot of good stuff to watch, but you’ll just have to wade through the bad…” But I say too little too late – it’s tough to claim both sides of the fence.

You know what else I say? I say bring it on. You know why I say it? Because we have to.

I’m bored with the industry rhetoric around keeping something like film making “pure”. It might be a convenient thing to say if you’re struggling to keep your seat at the table, but isn’t it sort of boring? It would be one thing if people claimed fear. That’s legit. “Hey man, I’m scared for the future because it means I have to do X, Y, and Z.” I buy that. It’s scary for lots of people. But to claim “this just isn’t how it’s supposed to be” is complete bullshit.

I’ve hustled my way into a reasonable spot on the food chain for more than a decade. Perhaps so have you. And I think it’s fair to cite “competence” if you’re there. That’s a requirement for any sort of staying power. It’s the “price of admission” as I’ve said before. And honestly, I’m sure you’d agree, it would be just peachy if I could sit back in the comfortable position and ride some magic carpet into fame and fortune, without change, without fear and struggle, without arrows coming at me. But it ain’t like that. It’s the whole enchilada, the whole range of emotions, the whole range of human experience. So call me crazy: isn’t trying to keep filmmaking in some ivory tower sort of like trying to juggle water?

It sounds exactly like the argument a certain cross-section of photographers made when things “went digital” about 10 years ago. So many cried foul. “Now anyone with a camera can be a photographer!” But isn’t that the point? There is and will always be several tiers within any given industry. That’s the nature of industry. What are the alternatives? Not to make films or take photos so people don’t get inspired? Don’t make better technology? Don’t share information? On the contrary, we must live with the ever-quickening conveyor belt.

In fairness, this shift in the marketplace is certainly affecting some industry folk, and I’m sad that some will be hurt by the shifting landscape. But trying to preserve a golden time in history should not be the mission. The mission is about doing what you can do to elevate things, and about pushing on. The mission is to celebrate the good parts of what the future brings, to shape it as you can, to work hard, to give to it. Because–last time I checked–the future is unavoidable.

If anybody feels in harm’s way with the changing landscape, there are plenty of other lines of work. But if I may say so–without being too bold–I can pretty much guarantee that those other industries are not immune. They are being forced to innovate, stay fresh and stay nimble to differentiate their product from the next guy’s product. If you somehow think those other industries might sit around and wait for you any more than the photo or filmmaking industry will, you’d better think twice.

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