Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Obviously, we're going to be busy over the next month or so. Too busy for me to write new blog posts, so I've decided to serialize this article I wrote back in 2006. An abbreviated version appeared in the Dances With Films program that year. Here, for the first time, the entire, only-slightly dated, article will be presented over the next few weeks.

Of course, I'll still get notices when anyone comments and will reply to any questions, so fire away. Until then, enjoy:


A new age of filmmaking is upon us. Ours is an entertainment born and raised on technology. Without technology film wouldn’t exist, literally. As technology has changed, so has the art form, which goes hand-in-hand with the business. The latest change is digital. With digital, any savant, idiot or otherwise, can make a movie.

Of course, this is old news. Everyone knows the business is in the middle of a myriad of upheavals. Very few people know how these changes are going to affect the industry. There may not be one overall answer to that question, but I think I can offer some assistance into one small aspect of it.

The other day, I was screening shorts for the Dances With Films Festival here in Los Angeles. The 9-year-old festival only accepts competition movies from unknown filmmakers whose work does not have stars (working actors are fine). As such, we are on the front lines of the war on film – I mean; the digital revolution. I can’t speak for founders Leslee Scallon and Michael Trent, but in the 6 years that I’ve worked for the festival, the decline in movies on film has paralleled a decline in the quality of almost every other department. That’s a general observation. Another general rule is that a good movie is a good movie whether it’s on film, video, or cut in stone by the bird inside Fred Flintstone’s camera.

Making movies has gotten a lot easier – making good movies is just as hard as it’s always been.

So… while screening these shorts, we discussed a movie that was engaging but with many rough edges, and it occurred to me that the new technology has brought about a new style of film – or rather… "tape" … or… "data" … or "software" … or… screw it – Film now officially means "movie" regardless of what medium it’s shot on… there, I said it.

Ignoring the many new styles we have been exposed to by the fast & cheap accessibility of digital that would fall under the categories of: Bad, Piece-of-Crap, and Thank-God-One-Can-Tape-Over-This-Shit – I’d like to focus on one of the better new genre that I call PRIMITIVISM.

Yes, I know… I didn’t makeup the term. There have been primitive movements in painting, music, sociology, etc. but not so much in film. One reason is that film hasn’t been around long enough to be primitive. Everything about it has always been, "look at the new, hip, cool stuff I can do." But now there are cameras in the hands of people who don’t know how to do the new, hip, cool stuff. They don’t have any friends at FotoKem to give them a cheap color correction. They don’t have access to Hollywood actors – which can be a big plus, given that the "Craig’s List Actors" in LA know just enough about acting to be extraordinarily bad at it. They don’t have grip trucks, Chapman dollies, technocranes, etc. etc.

All they have is the story.

Wow. Remember those? Stories? It’s that part between the explosions and the long-lens shot of the hot model-turned-actress-de-jour flipping her hair out of the water as her wet white shirt clings to the living homage to her plastic surgeon which we once called breasts.

Rumor has it that, before they were based on package deals, scripts actually were derived from stories.

Over the next two weeks, follow this blog as we define Primitive Film and explore what it might mean to the digital marketplace.

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