Category: Hollywood

Burn Hollywood, Burn

First there was the music industry. No one tried to help it back up; after years of being viewed by the general public and bemoaned by the artist as the big soul-sucking money-hungry machine of exploitation that it was, people only gathered round to watch it burn and fan the flames.

The result has been a transfer of power is all. Not to the artists, necessarily (of course there are always a few exceptions) but to the new digital aggregators who deal in micro-payments and still cut the far less than what it cost them to make the stuff in relation to what it costs for iTunes to distribute and sell it. The difference is when there were A&R people, some of them actually filtered out the bad stuff. Today those are called Tastemakers. They are better known to Generation Y as Simon Cowell. And iGenius.




The Dawning of a New Age (Again)

The artists hear the evangelists of this new democratic age calling down from the hilltops about how they have more freedom and opportunity than ever before, but somehow they are missing the foundation of how the market works – by removing the funnels and filters previously controlled by the major labels, and dispersing the point of sales all over the place, it is much more difficult for any artist to build momentum let alone sell on the Long Tail. By abandoning the major studio model (which HAD to be shaken up regardless) the artists inadvertently abandoned the very infrastructure that formed their marketplace.

Ask any musician today who ever made a dime before just how motivated they are right now to go and spend money and time and sweat toiling to get those de-tuned guitar strings right, and perfecting the EQ on their mixes when no one cares where the music came from or how it was made or whether or not its being pirated. Why are so many people just dancing on the ashes of the music industry and failing to realize that often they are also dancing on the heads of the musicians themselves?

Don’t get me wrong. I ran an indie label for 15 years. I wasn’t a fan of the studios, but at least there was an economy for music then. It wasn’t that the studios were slow and failed to seize the right opportunities (which they did) it was that the audiences were upset about paying 15 bucks for CDs (because they thought that CDs are only like 2 bucks to manufacture) so defaulted to getting their music free from The Internets.

By the same argument – I question the widespread derision and resentment that exists towards Hollywood. “Piracy is what Hollywood deserves for charging so much at the box office.” It is just too inconvenient to go to a three-storey high theater with Dolby Certified surround sound and pay ten dollars for popcorn. And Hollywood movies are soulless shit made by suits anyway.

Screw Wolverine: The Audience Wants More Truffaut – or – If Xmen Origins: Wolverine Exists, I Can Not Be Truffaut

Why is everyone so excited about bringing down the Hollywood model all of a sudden?

Why can’t it just be that there are more opportunities for more films in addition to the tentpole conglomerates?

The problem with this line of thinking is that it belies the WWI era scarcity model mentality where there can’t be two, there just has to be ways of splitting up and passing around fragments of one.

Do indie filmmakers, disillusioned and frustrated by rejection and gatekeepers in the studio system, really think that the fall of the studios and the distribution infrastructure they support and subsidize, is going to make financing more available to them? Or that audiences, suddenly free from the hypnotic glare of Spiderman 3, will finally turn their attention to moderately well crafted HVX100 features made by really big fans of Judd Apatow and even some Hitchcock?

I like change, and I like competition in the marketplace – it wakes people up and innovates and evolves things, and it gets rid of weak and outmoded models, but this does not all have to happen in spite of the infrastructure. If you want ever to download a pirated copy of an epic adventure thriller of any quality ever again, and not just some Bokakeh HDSLR indie avant-garde piece showcasing the latest Nikor lens, think about what it takes to successfully run and release a 400 million dollar picture like Avatar and get it out to your neighborhood in digital IMAX 3D.

wondering if the above, really just came from my keyboard – the once nose-ringed, green haired, experimental prog-rocker


Scarcity vs. Abundance

The takeaway from this is: stop thinking in terms of the scarcity model and start thinking in terms of the abundance model. There is enough to go around. Don’t horde your wisdom, resources, passion. Spread it, build it, develop it, express it and let the people building airships, skyscrapers and highways do their job also. Lest your concern be that they will flood the planet in oil, burn up the oceans and kill the indies – remember that the market goes where the money is – which is to say, if you don’t pay to see Snakes On A Plane – they probably won’t make a sequel. If you do pay to see Spiderman, they probably will.

If you make a mediocre album be it indie or released via a major, people likely won’t buy it. They probably won’t even pirate it.

Make good things. If you make inefficient gas guzzling cars that spray noxious fumes and cost too much, people will probably not buy it unless it is their only choice. So make a fuel efficient, eco-friendly car that feels and looks awesome, and you might just make a whole lot of money.

So when we start hearing about how Hollywood is gonna get it just like the music industry did, consider how a desperate industry will behave; it will probably play it safer, probably do less and thus interest in that very industry will wane.

People say all we care about is the story. All that matters is the song. Really?

What about adventure? What about entertainment? What about escape? What about spectacle? What about the communal experience? The social experience?

Do none of those factor in our attention and investment in the product? Would Lost be half of what it is if it weren’t for the chance to discuss it with friends, its scope, its production value?

I can’t wait to hear from you. Please tear the above apart. Or agree with me. Let’s hear it.

This article was in part, inspired by a piece someone posted at a Digital Entertainment studies board I read by UCLA Extension instructor Peter Russel titled Hollywood Is Going To Die — But Wait, That’s a Good Thing!



Am I reading this correctly?  There are ten films nominated for best picture, including two that are science fiction and three that are primarily computer generated animation?  It seems that there was, despite many naysayers, a huge crop of excellent material this year.  Tarantino finally grew up, Cameron doubled his own world record for box office receipts, Sandra Bullock got nominated for an Oscar, and so did Mo’nique.

This is nothing like the year that saw “There Will Be Blood” and “No Country for Old Men”, “Michael Clayton” and “In the Valley of Elah” brightening everyone’s hearts – no this year we have a truly eclectic range of styles, genres, approaches, tones and morals.  For the first time in years, it is almost too much to absorb.  But I am sure that will get easier as we countdown.

Let’s just hope Taylor Swift doesn’t show up, or she will snag the prize for Best Picture, prompting Jim Cameron to run up onto the stage, wielding a bottle of Hennessy and shouting that his ex wife was robbed and that the audience should now applaud for themselves.

I also wanted to share a list of my favorite films of the 2000’s or in easier terms – the past decade – that I created at the extraordinarily overdue site http://www.theauteurs.com

Here is the list of my favorite films of the past decade.

And without further ado, here is the list, from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, of

Nominees for the 2010 Academy Awards:

Best picture

“Avatar”
“The Blind Side”
“District 9”
“An Education”
“The Hurt Locker”
“Inglourious Basterds”
“Precious”
“A Serious Man”
“Up”
“Up in the Air”

Best actor

Jeff Bridges, “Crazy Heart”
George Clooney, “Up in the Air”
Colin Firth, “A Single Man”
Morgan Freeman, “Invictus”
Jeremy Renner, “The Hurt Locker”

Best actress

Sandra Bullock, “The Blind Side”
Helen Mirren, “The Last Station”
Carey Mulligan, “An Education”
Gabourey Sidibe, “Precious”
Meryl Streep, “Julie & Julia”

Best supporting actor

Matt Damon, “Invictus”
Woody Harrelson, “The Messenger”
Christopher Plummer, “The Last Station”
Stanley Tucci, “The Lovely Bones”
Christoph Waltz, “Inglourious Basterds”

Best supporting actress

Penelope Cruz, “Nine”
Vera Farmiga, “Up in the Air”
Maggie Gyllenhaal, “Crazy Heart”
Anna Kendrick, “Up in the Air”
Mo’Nique, “Precious”

Best director

James Cameron, “Avatar”
Kathryn Bigelow, “The Hurt Locker”
Quentin Tarantino, “Inglourious Basterds”
Lee Daniels, “Precious”
Jason Reitman, “Up in the Air”

Best foreign-language film

“Ajami,” Israel
“El Secreto de Sus Ojos,” Argentina
“The Milk of Sorrow,” Peru
“Un Prophete,” France
“The White Ribbon,” Germany

Best adapted screenplay

Neill Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell, “District 9”
Nick Hornby, “An Education”
Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci, Tony Roche, “In the Loop”
Geoffrey Fletcher, “Precious”
Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner, “Up in the Air”

Best original screenplay

Mark Boal, “The Hurt Locker”
Quentin Tarantino, “Inglourious Basterds”
Alessandro Camon and Oren Moverman, “The Messenger”
Joel Coen & Ethan Coen, “A Serious Man”
Bob Peterson, Pete Docter and Tom McCarthy, “Up”

Best animated feature film

“Coraline”
“Fantastic Mr. Fox”
“The Princess and the Frog”
“The Secret of Kells”
“Up”

Best art direction

“Avatar”
“The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus”
“Nine” “Sherlock Holmes”
“The Young Victoria”

Best cinematography

“Avatar”
“Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince”
“The Hurt Locker”
“Inglourious Basterds”
“The White Ribbon”

Best sound mixing

“Avatar”
“The Hurt Locker”
“Inglourious Basterds”
“Star Trek”
“Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen”

Best sound editing

“Avatar”
“The Hurt Locker”
“Inglourious Basterds”
“Star Trek”
“Up”

Best original score

“Avatar,” James Horner
“Fantastic Mr. Fox,” Alexandre Desplat
“The Hurt Locker,” Marco Beltrami and Buck Sanders
“Sherlock Holmes,” Hans Zimmer
“Up,” Michael Giacchino

Best original song

“Almost There” from “The Princess and the Frog,” Randy Newman
“Down in New Orleans” from “The Princess and the Frog,” Randy Newman
“Loin de Paname” from “Paris 36,” Reinhardt Wagner and Frank Thomas
“Take It All” from “Nine,” Maury Yeston
“The Weary Kind (Theme from Crazy Heart)” from “Crazy Heart,” Ryan Bingham and T Bone Burnett

Best costume design

“Bright Star”
“Coco Before Chanel”
“The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus”
“Nine”
“The Young Victoria”

Best documentary feature

“Burma VJ”
“The Cove”
“Food, Inc.”
“The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers”
“Which Way Home”

Best documentary short

“China’s Unnatural Disaster: The Tears of Sichuan Province”
“The Last Campaign of Governor Booth Gardner”
“The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant”
“Music by Prudence”
“Rabbit a la Berlin”

Best film editing

“Avatar”
“District 9”
“The Hurt Locker”
“Inglourious Basterds”
“Precious”

Best makeup

“Il Divo”
“Star Trek”
“The Young Victoria”

Best animated short film

“French Roast”
“Granny O’Grimm’s Sleeping Beauty”
“The Lady and the Reaper (La Dama y la Muerte)”
“Logorama”
“A Matter of Loaf and Death”

Best live-action short film

“The Door”
“Instead of Abracadabra”
“Kavi”
“Miracle Fish”
“The New Tenants”

Best visual effects

“Avatar”
“District 9”
“Star Trek”