Read part one here.
Mini-dv camera’s had come down in price and was fastly replacing Hi-8 or Super-8 digital video, and non-linear editing was readily available, costly if using legitimate software, but it was there to use for the every man – top that with computers that were growing faster then we had ever seen, and yet come down in price as well, and there was a real boon for the independent filmmaker. Musicians had failed to take their talents to themselves and stupidly left their careers in the hands of the music industry that was still doling out multi-year, multi-million dollar contracts to artists that popped up out of the college radio crowds, or night club music scenes – and they had watched their record company lose millions on illegal downloads. This could have been mainly avoided had the artists sold their own music, for a fraction of the cost of a cd at the time, as well as some other creative methods. They didn’t.
In the movie world there was the Blair Witch Project, which was filmed with consumer grade camera’s, hi-8 I believe, with mini-dv having a higher resolution, some well known directors were even filming movies on higher end cameras using mini-dv. With the box office success of The Blair Witch Project, and say what you want about the movie, it showed the power of technology and what artists could do with the internet, promotion and the new camera’s. It really seemed like filmmaking, and the good old boys of hollywood would be on the ropes. This is where the modern artistic movement was going to come from, filmmakers with vision, given the freedom to express themselves as they see fit, with out the over bearing retarded movie studios telling them what and how they should do their movies.
I wanted to be a relevant name in my generation of art, I wanted to be an innovator in the movement that would be remembered, I had thought that was still being a novelist – filmmaking before the digital age, was like the publishing world, only worse, to be an independent filmmaker with film, you needed hundreds of thousands of dollars just for film and equipment and developing said film. With digital you could shrink that to a couple thousands of dollars, more so with editing on a pc and not splicing film with a physical cutter, putting into a computer and then exporting it to film again. No, the art was to be in the hands of the artists. I made my first film, a short film, then an hour and a half sci-fi epic using blue screen in most shots, taught myself how to build 3d models and animate in 3d animation, comped shots, rotoscoping, sound design, adr, etc. Cast of the second film was around 20 people, we had to invent costumes, worlds, and vehicles, it was one of the greatest experiences in the world. It was also the most frustrating endeavour and would lead me to an eventual break from filmmaking to this day. In fact that was still the last movie I directed. I starred in another feature, while helping with the script and direction and producing, and created a tv show, starred in it and released the directing reigns to someone else, even the producing, staying on as one of the stars, writer, and executive producer, only to see the project still stuck in post production waste land.
What had gotten to me was having to count on other people to do things that didn’t take it as seriously as you did (as the creator) and more importantly, it was the technology. It burned me out, years of frustration with too slow computers, over clocking my pc’s, the technology changing while you work, HD taking over and making mini-dv obsolete in the middle of making these movies. The tv show was shot in full HD, but the previous movies were either mini-dv or first gen hd, and the picture quality when rendered with effects and comping simply wasn’t worth the amount of time it took just to finish a fairly simple shot. The technology was too limiting, too slow, and you couldn’t really compete with the big screen and hollywood.
Cut to today. Looking at the software and hardware available, and most importantly distributors like Itunes, you have as an artist a genuine money making digital distributer that reaches almost everyone in the world – you also have you’re own website etc – and you finally have computers and camera’s that can create a HD movie with the same or relatively close to the same quality as a hollywood movie. But where are the slick new filmmakers? Where are these films? Where are the directors and writers that are sick of the merry go ’round of hollywood films regurgitated over and over? Why have they still not taken the reigns of their own careers and shaped their own destiny, eventually leveraging big distributors to make a deal to get more quality and original films in the theaters as well?
One of the biggest questions I have over this generation, is that self-reliance on art as a business, has never been so available. We literally have every avenue available to us to use in order to provide alternatives to hollywood, publishing, and the music industry, but there’s something missing. In my opinion it rests on the fantasy of the home run, a fantasy that plagued me as a young artist, that you could swing for the fences and get rich and just be a part of the system. But we all look around and complain how bad the system is. How lifeless pop culture has become, and yet none of us have the faith? to change it.
Where are the innovators? My frustration with other people, spelled out above, was born from this concept. I cannot innovate on my own, others need to jump on board or it won’t work. One or two artists doing things like this will not change anything, artists who create quality art need to take their livelihoods into their own hands, and hasn’t that what artists have always dreamt of?