Sunday, May 22, 2011

What's wrong with this "picture"?

Picture, as in motion picture... More specifically "Christian Film". But some of the things I'm about to say can be applied to any type of film. [Or any production.] I may not be saying these opinions in the kindest and most polite way possible. I don't mean to degrade any particular group or person.

A little back history. I grew up with actors and actresses, and other crew. Some of them have become famous, and a select few are even award winning. My family has been major film buffs. To an extent, you could name almost any film, and someone from my family has seen it. In fact there's a bit of a joke motto with my family.

"There's no such thing as a bad movie...
Just bad scripts, directors, actors, etc."

So, what exactly plagues film makers and keeps a movie from being the best it can be?
Here are at least five observations.

We are our own worst enemy.
That's right, sometimes our best intentions get in the way of the artistic process. Yes. No matter how commercial and business-like film making is, it is still an art. This is often forgotten, or lost, on many people. There is a certain commitment that art takes. It also takes the heart or mindset of an artist. If you don't understand this, I would recommend finding "artists" to help your process.

Not willing to bleed for the art.
How far are you willing to go to tell the story? Sure, someone could sweat and shed a few tears while producing a film. Some may even throw money at a production, until they are in the poor house. But if film makers are not willing to "bleed" for the story. This is actually apparent to the audience. When the story does not get to the bottom of the human condition, it shows. I've seen numerous films that were so shallow not even the characters were developed. If the main characters are "Boy A" and "Girl C", then the film needs a little more planning.

White-Wash and or too politically correct. / Excessively fake.
This goes along with the fear of bleeding. Some filmmakers are too afraid of upsetting the lowest common denominator. Thus, they make their film too PC. I'm not saying that you should not sensor yourself. [I'm not afraid of swearing if I have a mouth full.] People feel alienated if there is no realism to your "story". Even many fictional films have an element of realism to them. Those that white-wash their film of all humanity end up lying to their audience. We've seen laughable censorship where they replace the censored words with other phrases. It draws too much attention to the censorship and detracts from the film.

There was controversy back in the 90s. Some rental companies were censoring films without the permission of the studios. The rental companies were slapped with lawsuits due to the white-washing and copyright infringement. Not to mention that it's a total disregard for the art. The "good intentions" of these few left a major mark against Christians in the industry.

A total disregard for everything but their agenda.
Sometimes it's blatantly obvious that a production has too much of an agenda. Certainly, the audience leaves with the message. But are they entertained? Will they remember the message? Sometimes the message is too shallow. Is the message worth sharing? Say, if a studio put a costume designer in charge of a film. The agenda of that film may then be to show off the costumes. Everything else of the film suffers. [The plot, the dialogue, the lighting, and etc.]

Some agendas are too polarizing. The world is not black and white. There has to be some grey area in your agenda somewhere. I'm not talking about loopholes. One should not protest murder, then commit it or rejoice due to a murder. Then the grey area... One should be able to rejoice when a soldier comes back home after risking life and limb. And people should at least be thankful for the fallen soldier returning in a casket, because they stood up to the other murderers. [ Protesting the wrong things makes you look like a tactless cult. ]

Belief in their vision is lacking.
Sometimes a film is hypocritical to the beliefs of the film makers. This is a bad for those trying to give a message. The "story" has to at least be believable. As a magician and performer I've become quite knowledgeable in the art of deception. [That is partly to keep from deceiving people.] Often the lie is more believable than the truth. To tell a good lie, you have to believe that lie. An audience can sense when you are lying about your beliefs. This is hard one to grasp for many people. Even poker players have a "tell".
[Ya gotta know when to hold them. And know when to fold them.]

Maybe some advice here can keep you off of "the list of the worst films".

Until, next time.
Dock James

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Note: The opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily reflect the view points of companies, people, and products, associated with Dockery James. Dock also reserves the right to change his opinions, and at any time make revisions to this post.

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