We Must Rescue Cinema!

Posted in Diary of a Directrix
March 30th, 2010 by Devi Snively (The Directrix)

3122525698_fd8e8f8e00_oMy dear director friend J texted me from Australia in a mad frenzy.  He was on a bus en route to Melbourne and being “forced to watch Four Holidays.”  He wrote:

Oh dear, Devi, it’s one of the worst movies ever made.  And yet it’s filled with great actors.  What the hell?  Why?  How?  This is why we have to make (title of project we’re collaborating on).  We just have to.  There is a moral imperative involved.  We have to rescue cinema.  Think of all the poor kids who’ve never seen “The Breakfast Club” but God help them they have seen “Four Holidays.”

voltroncamera_1I nearly wet myself from laughing.  What a delightfully arrogant concept from this amazingly humble artist.  It is up to US to rescue cinema.  But what a fun quest.  Why not try and become a Cinematic Superhero? I accept the mission.  And so should we all.

Thursday was a momentous day.  Circus and I had a writing meeting to address some final issues with this project we’ve been working on since January.  It’s gone through the oddest evolution.  I wish I could remember how he described it – some analogy involving taxidermy and rearranging bones, skin and organs I seem to recall.  Whatever the case, it was an apt one.

butt_faceSee, we’d gotten a bunch of feedback and others, as well as we ourselves, had agreed – it’s compelling, it’s well-written, it would make an entertaining film, but…

Ah, the ever-present “but.”  However, it was true.  There was a big ol’ but staring back at us from the page.  My solution?  Apply a hatchet to it again and again.  Shake it up, mix it down, throttle the damn thing and see what happens.

enlightenmentWe killed more darlings than ever before.  We saved the cat, went on the hero’s journey and even took a romp through Syd’s field.  I was beginning to think we’d hit the point of no return when suddenly, as we sat tinkering, the solution came to us like a beacon of light – at last!  It was so simple and yet we both knew, by jove, we finally had it!  On Friday I applied our ideas to the page and knocked out what is nearly the end of this long haul (and the beginning of the next which is already off to a promising start.)

5 drafts ago I believe we still could have made an entertaining, non-suckie film.  But who wants to aspire to merely that?  By pushing on, we “rescued cinema” in our own tiny way.

2168036I wish more people would take the time to do this.  In the urgent rush to crank out a movie or perhaps merely an arrogant delusion that one’s early, sloppy draft is, in fact, “good enough,” bad (or at least mediocre) cinema is produced.  If it’s not working on the page, it will not work on the screen – plain and simple. superheroes2And the only real way to know if it’s working on the page is to take the necessary time, get plenty of reliable feedback and be as honest with one’s self as possible – does this really work, or is it still in need of improvement?  Is there a giant “but” staring back at me?

Our efforts are paying off.  I will head into some upcoming meetings with far more confidence now.  This is a project I can sell because I truly believe in it.  Join me, Superfriends.  Let’s all rescue Cinema one page/frame/edit at a time, eh?

And that’s it for today’s coffee break rant.  Now, my “moral imperative” beckons…

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