When I first started in film, I started in the true New York independent film world. Non-union, low-budget, all that.
If you wanted to make a film, you had to get your hands on a camera. Usually an Aaton or Arri 16mm. You could cut a deal, but it’d still cost ya. Then you’d have to get your hands on some film stock. Due to the size of the mags, you could only do something like 4 minute takes. You’d be frugal anyway, because you’d have to pay for processing. There was no internet so you couldn’t go to some website to get people to work for free, you had to ask friends. Face to face. Favour for favour. You needed lights and a dolly right? Well, the rental house might be generous, but it’ll still cost. Then of course there was all the post stuff… editing, music, etc. When it was finished, there was no ‘Vimeo’, or ‘YouTube’, you had to try to hawk it to festivals and the like.
Now? If you don’t have a Canon 5D, Sony F3, or some such thing, one of your friends does. And if you want to shoot on an Alexa, or Red Epic, you can! The rental houses will be more than happy to give you one pretty much for free. You’ll get your lighting gear for practically nothing. You can go online to ‘Mandy.com’ or ‘Shooting People’ and wham! You’ve got a ‘crew’ that’ll work for food! You can shoot forever so you don’t need to actually pre-viz your project or storyboard it for that matter. And you can edit it in your underwear at three o’clock in the morning with your cracked version of Final Cut Pro. With a keystroke it’s online and there ya go! You’re a ‘filmmaker’!
The discipline that I feel is necessary for the product to stand out amongst all the other crap that’s out there is lost. It’s too easy to shoot forever, too easy to get crew, too easy to get the camera. Think about this, back in the day, you were pretty much only able to use 16mm camera’s. If you had real money, you got a 35BL or something like it. And if you had REAL money, you’d shoot it on a Panavision camera. Now, a no-budget job is actually using the SAME camera as a multi-million dollar project!
On one hand I love the ‘level playing field’ that’s been created, the democracy of it all. But on the other hand I mourn the diluting of the professional atmosphere that I enjoy on a film set.
So what’s the point of this moan? I guess it’s just that I’m worried about the film industry becoming a weak image of it’s former self. It’s too easy!