There is a new baby living at my house and no surprise I find that I am keeping some stranger sleeping hours, as a result I get to watch a lot of middle-of-the-night TV.
The other day I caught The Little Drummer Girl, it was released in 1984 and stars Dianne Keaton. As an aside, it is an excellent film and you should see it some time.
In 1984, movie companies made movies, and that was it. Now movie companies are
“Entertainment conglomerates,” and they are no longer interested in making art – they are interested in making money.
In 1984 when the character Diane Keaton is playing stares off into the distance, the world on her mind, torn between what she feels is right and her own doubts, there is a gentle piano score playing in the background. It’s perfect, it’s appropriate, its art.
If they remade the movie today, there would be a pop song playing because Warner Brothers no longer only makes movies – they make TV shows, video games, and they have a music division.
So now when they sit around the table they are not only thinking “let’s make a movie, let’s make art” they are thinking “let’s make a movie, get one of our singing artists (or two) to release a big song, and then we can sell the sound track.”
“So we’ll make some money selling tickets to the movies, we’ll make more money when we sell the soundtrack, and then (when possible – for example Batman The Dark Knight Rises) we’ll sell a video game to the kids, and then partner up with a fast food chain to throw some toys into the bag plus merchandise at stores.”
Now movies are made by business guys in the marketing department.
You can’t always blame these companies like Warner Brothers for doing what they have done – I completely understand how it happens. If you are going to sell them a ticket to the movie, you may as well sell them a sound track.
In 1992 the movie The Bodyguard was huge, the soundtrack featuring Whitney Houston singing I will always Love you has to date sold 45 million copies, making it the bestselling sound track of all time.
But there is a difference in intent. Companies have shifted from “let’s make a movie. period.” to “let’s find a way to sell more stuff.” The film, the art, is really just a conduit to your wallet. Now the art is the deal, not the picture.
Now a movie can be absolute trash, but because it makes $100 million it’s a success and before you can say “really?” You hear that the sequel is already in the works. Lousy story, lousy acting, but $100 million in ticket sales and a significant capture of the coveted “16-25 years old demographic.”
This goal lacks authenticity. To make a profit, versus making art.
Your business is your art and your craft. Your intent must be to create something beautiful, something memorable, something perfect.
Stick to what you do, and don’t lose sight of it. Be genuine. Be proud. Be clear, and for the better of all of us, be real.
Those of us who pay attention will thank you for it and there are more of us then you realize.