Hollywood’s Corporate Journey, A Creative Glitch

The biggest danger of Hollywood becoming a purely corporate town resides primarily in the creative process. It really hasn’t been demonstrated at any level by any major corporation–– that it can also nurture and encourage what is euphemistically called creativity. In other words, do artists, do writers, directors–– whatever–– want to work for massively impersonal corporate entities? Do they really want to put up with the mega-company decision-making process, which often requires an abundance of bureaucracy and miles and miles of bright red tape? More importantly, are they willing to be treated as nothing more than replaceable commodities? One of the reasons that there is now such a current of tension and unrest in Hollywood is that most creative people don’t trust the corporate, bottom-line mentality. They don’t feel as though they’re a part of the process, and, quite frankly–– they’re not.

The average screenplay is rewritten again and again by no less than 30 to 50 producers, marketing personnel and perhaps even a few guys who work in the mail room on Saturdays–– The point is, once the optioned screenplay leaves the writer, the transformation barely resembles the original thought process. The writer’s original vision is all but erased from the formula.

We’re going to continue to see a very, very commercial kind of filmmaking. And then a few years hence, the whole system is going to fragment. I believe we’re going to see a tremendous proliferation of small units of independent companies exactly like ours. The big companies are going to splinter into smaller companies. They may still retain “some” ownership, but I think a lot of the profits, a lot of the action is going to reside with where it should reside–– with the creative elite. And I do believe the whole system is going to turn around completely.

Entertainment, by it’s very nature, is a very cyclical business. I love movies. I’m not a quite a movie nut, you know. What’s sad about all of it is that, sure, when I was a kid the kind of motion pictures we saw were very adventuresome and edgy. And because the risks involved were so small, studios were encouraged to go with bright newcomers. You didn’t have to rehire the guy who made two $100 million pictures in the last five years. You could take some chances. That’s how you end up with great films. That’s how you get surprises, because what movies are all about, in my opinion are surprises, things you didn’t expect to happen.

That was Hitchcock’s genius, he understood the significance of the clever plot twist, the character’s journey, and more importantly, he tapped into the audience’s psyche, he made the audience think– on a very simplistic intellectual level. My personal theory is that one reason the ratings for the Oscar Awards show were several percentages down from the previous year stemmed from the fact that too many pictures last year were terribly predictable, far too commercial, and relatively safe.

The audience out there didn’t have a real passion for any particular movie–– and I’m sure they were desperate to see a film that struck some sort of “universal chord” win an Oscar. And so they didn’t tune in. Hollywood has definitely lost some business. But I am confident Nite Owl Productions will be one of the companies that will get it all back… and then some.

I like to call Hollywood the home of “ideology brokering”, which is inherently all about the power– protecting “us” and winning “them.” I suggest that a far more adequate metaphor for our existence after the structuralism of modernity by Hollywood is the “networked age”. We find this age interconnected by definition, characterized by disruption through wider connections, holding onto a nuanced continuity in existential and communal identity through a more explicit selection of and innovation within the tradition which the network finds itself constituted by. It is nearly a case of a new cogito- I emerge in the network therefore I am.
Apparently the surrealist movement was originally a political movement. I don’t have a problem with capitalism necessarily. It’s very easy for this culture to point out the corruption of communism and fascism; but it’s difficult for it to point out the corruption of itself. But that corruption does exist and it is in the element of corporate entities taking the element of individualized thinking away. That’s really where bad corruption comes into play in all of these areas. It’s the most evident in film and television because it’s an expensive art form and they need to be able to feel confident in salesmanship. They need a group they can point to and sell it so since there isn’t a countercultural movement that they can point to, they won’t bother. If anything makes anyone feel uncomfortable at all, which good art can do, they won’t support it. Now that’s being taken out of stories in the media because it’s considered something that could drive audiences or sponsorship away. Now all films and media are being approved by committees, which is an absolute corruption no matter how you look at it.

In the end… it really doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks about you or your work. You have to be exactly who you are and what you want to be. On your terms, with your own ideas and philosophies and the absolute FREEDOM to express them. Not what has been marketed to you or at you or created perhaps to help you to think better by the corporate “suits” with a target demographic to uphold.


~ by upbeatmag on January 10, 2009.

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