Screenwriting propaganda part 1
The flavor of the blog has always been a little more personal and irrelevant than a lot of what I read and feed from. Don’t ever call it objective as I take pride in the finely honed bias I’ve managed to cultivate. I should probably kill the mess, but I like having it around as a tool for having conversations that I otherwise don’t get in the normal day to day, a place to void the opinion overflow. You know, without having to huddle in a corner and talk to myself between Thorazine doses. When aimlessness creeps up on me the posting drops to nil. But I’m recovering.
Finished a draft today.
Saw my new most brilliant awesome flick of all time THERE WILL BE BLOOD, (For the fourth time. There may be a future obsesso-post).
And as is common, Mystery Man and Unk, have kinda helped drag me out of the lesser funk with some stimulating posts. Such smart guys. The discourse on the subject of blogs and the learning/improvement process particularly agitates the realization that when I do talk, I am not compelled to report, teach or edify. I’m just struggling to make connections myself and hoping occasionally someone or something will come along and nudge me in the right direction. I’m not an altruist. I just want to tell a damn story.
One of the big things in the back and forth that caught my attention was Unk hitting on this Period-of-film concept and the dumbness:
We’re ripping movies off left and right. The 40s, 50s, 60s, and 70s spawned some great films. Movies were special. Somewhere along the line, we lost our way. Certainly we have had a smattering of films that managed to become iconic in their own right since the 80s but we’ve also dumbed everything down.
And I agree that movies were special and I miss that. But as I’m reading the rest of the post this idea starts to form in my head that the trend that Unk’s lamenting is in no small part due to the business end of the Industry and the miserable inevitable growth of Society. (Shall I go so far as to say, the condition of Postmodernity?) Now, part of me feels like this is a cop out, wading into cultural and economic geography to sort of shotgun some blame away from writers. Can you, should you really ignore that film was a younger technology, that cost was prohibitive whether you we’re making movies in 19XX or spending your meager pay to see them in 19XX? How could early studios better guarantee returns other than to create a quality product, something people would to pay to see? Not that everything was brilliant, but then who the hell knows brilliant? Brilliant is subjective and that’s where it really starts to fall apart, a strategy that you can still see: Smash stage hits and novels = adaptations. Remakes. Sequels. Ideas that have been vetted.
So the world gets bigger, people have a lot of sex and babies. Industries boom. Economies take off. Business no long demand quality over quantity because they gotta make bank. Then all those people gotta work more jobs and pay more bills. Who wants to watch movies that make you think, that make you realize what a cog you’ve become? People are kinda happy with the familiar and that’s good enough. Dumbing down is a survival instinct and has long since become a marketing strategy for popular entertainment. Where does the blame fall? It is really just a question of ownership/authorship/copyright and how exactly are we defining that these days?
More people making more movies, cheaper for more audiences who have more money to spend and who want it faster rather than better so long as they can cram that popcorn down their fucking throats! Why the fuck should I even bother? In fact why shouldn’t I shave my head bald, find some gimmick ((IGNORE ME!!!)) and begin planning to eradicate the rest of the human race?
I just want to tell a damn story. That’s all I want to do. An audience is unfortunately somewhat intrinsic to that. Unk is a fucking altruist. Mystery Man too. John August and anyone actively trying to improve the dirty masses that want to call themselves screenwriters. MM dubbed it the Screenwriting Revolution. And goddamn people, more power to you, maybe you’ll save the goddamned world. Because that’s what I’m beginning to think it is, war. A war against the dumbing down.
Does popular entertainment reflect Society? Do amateur, blog-reading screenwriters speak for popular entertainment? Is the Screenwriting Revolution enough? Am I smoking too much or not enough? There exists a need to facilitate open discussion of the craft, to freely put the knowledge out there for those who seek it. But even then with everything that’s in place now, business, the Industry, the very audiences we write for can seem diametrically opposed to craftsmanship. So down with the establishment! Maybe even some guerrilla tactics are necessary. More later.