I went to visit a blockbuster store over the holidays. Either I must be getting old, or the world seems to be filling up with trashier movies and flimsier storylines. Some of the current storylines in movies have become so weak that semi-naked women and girls are thrown in as a last resort to keep the audience's attention. Is a naked body the only way that we can keep the viewer awake? What is a wrong with a good solid, storyline and captivating characters? When I look back at the films I grew up with, they were engaging and fun. I looked forward to seeing new movies. Look back at films that you grew up with and loved. What were the storylines like? To me, they were far better as a whole than movies today. Years ago when screenwriters wrote scripts for movies, the documents were 700-800 pages. Think of how great a story you could develop, how many questions you can pursue with your characters in that amount of space. You get to know your story and your characters well. You find out what works and what doesn't work. You see where you made mistakes or took a wrong turn within the story. I think this is part of the reason why so many old movies have become classics. The writers spent much of their time understanding and developing the story and the characters. These are the kind of characters that we have not forgotten over time.
It is hard to match that kind of writing today. As a Filmmaker, I spent years in Hollywood and more recently in the independent film and documentary world. The independent market has always been much more interesting and compelling to me. Why? I have found the filmmakers to be passionate about storytelling and getting their film completed. Most of them don't stop until the film is on the screen. Even if it is only one screen.
I can still remember the movies that changed my life as a child. They filled my heart and my imagination to the brim. I would often see three movies on a Saturday and walk out so uplifted. I suppose it is the reason why I choose to go into filmmaking. Believe me in tough times, I have wished that I didn't have this passion. I fantasized about having the ambition to be a plumber, like my father and my brothers; it would have been a much easier path, even as a woman.
Over the last couple of years, a small group of women, including myself, founded a new company that we are launching this spring. It is our goal to create a place for people to listen to new and different voices of filmmakers who are passionate and have compelling stories to tell. We have been acquiring the kind of films that you might see at a film festival, but would never be distributed in mass market. Our goal is to inspire and thrill, perhaps make you think, and always to broaden the platform for new voices. Check us out at www.womensindependentcinema.com. Let me know what you think.
I rarely see great films for my kids either, and it makes me incredibly sad. Not to mention the missed financial opportunity for Hollywood. Yes, there is the Harry Potter series and the Eragon series, but they are few and far between. As a kid, I saw The "Sound of Music", six times before the theatre owner stopped taking my money and waived me through. I can still sing every song in that film. Today, I feel stuck in a bad dream made up of violent, unimaginative movies that continue to regurgitate old concepts. Movies that are made up of poor storylines, stale jokes and extreme graphic violence that plays to the lowest common denominator. It's depressing.
I worry about my kids getting a steady stream of bad language and excess violence. Do we really need all the violence, the poor language and excess cleavage? I have seen my kids completely captivated by entertainment that had none of those things. A movie that had a story so simple and clean that my kids were trying to emulate the experience before we even got home! Movies are suppose to surprise and delight us, to take us out of our everyday world where we can suspend our disbelief...go along for the ride.
So, we just started a new year. I would like to challenge Hollywood. Start thinking more out of the box. Take risks. Create new characters; don't just keep re-making the old ones. Create some original concepts that are unique, that stir up a whole new generation of kids with imagination and passion. Perhaps you might see people wanting to go to the movies more...Yep that's what I would like in 2007, surprise and delight me...and my kids. We'll see what happens.