You’re a filmmaker working on original projects, and you’re looking at the misery of the international financing market, and you’re looking at the marketplace and its near-psychotic dependence on remakes and sequels and brands and widgets, and you are filled with despair.
The reason some people break through and some people don’t comes down to something as simple as presentation. It is absolutely still possible for a good original idea to take root and bloom and even succeed wildly these days. Possible, but incredibly difficult. If you want to get people to pay attention to your idea, you have to be professional about it, but you also have to think beyond the basics. You have to take initiative, and if you really believe in your idea, you find a way to tell that story. You do it because you have to, not because you’re looking to get rich. You do it because it’s a compulsion.
I love it when artists take it upon themselves to kickstart something, and when they do it using limited resources, on a small scale, somehow creating things that don’t feel like they were created by committee based on market research.
This week’s been a good week for this type of story, and two of them deserve to be highlighted. The first is a major new Dreamworks animated film called “Alma,” based on a short film by Rodrigo Blaas. Guillermo Del Toro will be working with Blaas and Dreamworks to turn Blaas’s award-winning short film into a full-length feature, and it’s obvious that Blaas has made a huge impression on Del Toro, since they’ll also be co-directing the animated film “Trollhunters”.
Del Toro’s one of the consultants on the new Dreamworks animated film “Megamind,” and he’s a passionate fan of animation who brings strong opinions to the table. I’m dying to see what he’s going to do as he gets more comfortable working in animation, and I think this is an excellent place to start:
It’s great if you’re an animator and you’re working at Pixar and you’re driven enough to take these tools at your disposal to craft something personal that you can call your own. Live-action shorts are a separate industry, and there are certainly plenty of cases of people making a jump from shorts to features. Just yesterday, Jason Eisener was on Twitter talking about how he was putting the final touches on his first cut of “Hobo With A Shotgun,” the feature film based on his grindhouse trailer, with Rutger Hauer playing the lead for the feature. I’m dying to see what he’s done, because I suspect he’s deranged enough to make a real movie.
This week, a fake trailer for a film called “Clown” appeared online, and it’s gone viral in a huge way. The titles at the end of the trailer have Eli Roth listed as the director. Within 24 hours of the trailer breaking out, Eli was discussing it on Twitter, saying how much he’d love to see the movie. So what started as a joke by Waverly Films (the group behind the trailer) ended up getting the short in front of the filmmaker, and all of a sudden, this joke isn’t so much a joke as a question. Will someone hire the people behind this trailer to make a full-length feature out of “Clown”? Because it’s just creepy and strange and weird enough to work:
What I love about both of these things is that they are perfect examples of the way the Internet has permanently changed the development of intellectual property, and the distribution of an idea. Making a short film to get attention in town is not a new idea. But in the past, in the days before we could just send these films back and forth and embed them and share them so easily, they were videocassettes or actual film prints, and it was not easy to get these things seen. You’d have one screening at a time, for a few people at a time. Now, something can be seen by millions of people within days of its creation if things work out right.
It’s an amazing new world, and the filmmakers that we’ll be paying the most attention to in the years and decades to come are the ones who figure out how to conquer this world and make the most of the opportunities it affords.