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Old October 8 2012, 03:53 AM   #14
mos6507
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Re: Thoughts about Filmmaking

Jarod, I think the problem with that article is that it attempts to place blame on the studios when it may in fact be a sociological evolution (or devolution) that has no true scapegoat.

We have come to a point of information overload due to video games and the internet. Everything is always accessible on-demand instantly. Therefore there's very little incentive for anyone to sit down and PAY ATTENTION to anything for any length of time. It definitely does lead people towards ADD, and even as I rail against it, I feel it myself. I sometimes have to really force myself to commit to watching things without fast-forwarding and without pausing to check my e-mail.

Being in my early 40s, I remember the days before cable TV and VCRs when you just had 3 networks and UHF and the movies. (Conan was actually one of the first movies I saw when our family got cable, BTW.) I remember what it felt like to focus on whatever was on TV, like the usual slow-paced of, what, at the time, was considered an "action" kid's show like Six Million Dollar Man or The Incredible Hulk. Seen today, shows like that operate at a glacial pace and spend an inordinate amount of time on character drama.

That's the way evolutionary change works. Little by little, and only after a certain amount of time do you look back and realize how different things are.

I think where you see this play out most tragically isn't blockbuster movies, it's on Youtube. Youtube originally had what, a 5 minute limit on clips? Now it's been lengthened, but sociologically people are used to digesting their video content in tiny little bursts.

Where this relates to Trek productions is that anybody doing full-length webisodes probably going to have a hard time building a following if he or she is expecting people to sit down in front of their computers and stream a 60+ minute episode or film back-to-back without rewinding or clicking away.

I mean, look at how Youtube is structured. The play page for a youtube clip is littered with enticements to click away. Related clips and ads and what not. All that choice has made it hard for us to ever feel comfortable in how we've decided to devote our free time.

On Youtube you see what's most popular are viral videos, videos that almost always are comedic and that piggyback on a current event or some form of pop culture. That's why the Klingon Gangnam Style video has 3.3 million hits and counting whereas Star Trek Aurora, an animated production that took many years to produce, which dares you to invest your time to see the characters develop, only has earned 128K.

People just don't have the patience or interest anymore to really get into a story with only a few high-profile exceptions of "genre" films that happen to have some character development like Nolan's Batman and Harry Potter. (It's here I disagree with the article as I happen to appreciate Nolan's filmmaking more than the author does.)

I don't know what can be done about this because I just think it's a general sociological trend. People out there who want to tell long-form stories are going to see their work overlooked simply because viewers can't be convinced to even play through their entire storyline even when it's just being streamed for free on Youtube or Vimeo. People would rather watch dogs on skateboards for 30 seconds.

(Society in general is getting shallower and shallower. I think you also see this play out in how the news is presented (with swooping dolly shots and scrollers and sensationalism) and the political process with the drive-by attack-ads and sound-bites. People just aren't willing to think very long or hard about anything, not just their entertainment.)

Back to Trek...

All you have to do is compare Star Trek: The Motion Picture to the 2009 Star Trek. As much as TMP got ribbing for its pacing when it was released, the script never would have gotten green-lit today. Yet when I rewatch TMP, at least the Director's Cut, it seems to age better and better specifically because it is daring enough to ask the audience to stop thinking about the myriad of distractions that we all have floating around in our heads, and just lose ourselves in that sense of wonder, one that was, yes, FX-driven, but ultimately an idea-movie, not just visual eye-candy.

Those big ideas are few and far between these days in Hollywood, and I certainly didn't sense any "big ideas" in the 2009 Trek.
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