Thursday, 19 April 2012

Film: A Subjective Media

"There are no right answers in film"

How often have you heard that? The thing is: It's completely true.

During high school, this meant you could write whatever you wanted about film and, as long as you justified yourself properly, you were correct! So, if you were like me, you could write about how the French New Wave was simply a collection of pretentious idiots that purposely broke the rules that existed in the first place because they actually worked just for the sake of it, as long as you explained WHY you thought they were pretentious idiots.

"Point the camera at the actors? That's how HOLLYWOOD wants us to do it!"

Once you finish education and begin writing or shooting films, subjective nature of film can also create creative differences. What one person thinks is a correct lighting set up or a well composed image may not seem correct to someone else. That's not to say that one person is right and the other is wrong - it's just difference of opinion. On a film set this issue can usually be resolved by observing the chain of command. ie. the director will have final say over creative issues.

"The director said that you should suck my balls."

Creative differences aren't limited to the production of a film, they also exist once the film has been completed and exhibited. In the majority of industries, there is a clear and obvious indication that a task has been completed successfully. For example, if you pick up your car from the mechanic and it still doesn't work, the mechanic has failed at his job. You, the customer, are then within your rights to drive (or push) your car back to the garage and insist that they fix your car properly.

However, for the consumers of your product (ie. the audience) there is no clear measure of success. Film, like all media, is open to personal opinion, so there is no absolute way of gauging whether the film is a success or not. You could look at reviews, box office figures, online ratings, DVD sales, etc., but in there will always be people who don't like your film. The inverse of this is that you can't claim for their money back at the cinema if they don't like the film you just watched. You've paid to watch a film and you have watched it; whether you liked it or not is immaterial. Of course, you could choose to not buy the film on DVD and boycott any sequels, but that doesn't mean that the film has failed.

There's no way to conclusion that can be drawn from all of this, as you are never going to be able to change the fact that people have opinions and they will always differ. Just remember to listen to people around you: If everyone is saying your script is poor, it probably is. Equally, bear in mind that you're never going to please everyone.

As they say these days:

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