Chesanek's Counterpoint (Part 3 of 6)

Personally, I was initially resistant to social networking for a couple reasons. One was that it feels like a celebrity culture or popularity contest. I can see that my friends have hundreds and hundreds more Facebook friends than I do. So I see their friends count and think, wow, they should make a movie instead, since they have more people who'd go see it. Only it's usually superficial friendship, just as popularity and celebrity appeal is. So then I think, is this person I'm asking to be friends with really my friend, do I really want to catch up with them after ten years out of high school, or am I only requesting their friend status because I know that once my film comes out I can put a message on their Facebook wall? If I want to be honest with myself, then how do I come to terms with having to strive for superficial popularity, something I jettisoned in high school as I was, well, coming to terms with not wanting it and forming my artistic temperament? Is this still a world where the most popular people are offered the widest financial rewards and/or avenues of self-expression, just like Hollywood, television, and high school? Is art film no longer a venue for the introverted artist seeking personal expression in a way that maybe socially he or she could never achieve? Isn't that the core of art and artistic language? Aren't a large amount of artists poor with social skills--choosing to express themselves other ways--probably for a reason that manifests itself in their work? Do we not care to hear their voices? Of course we do, but if this audience building is truly as it is shaping up to be, how do these artists with less than impeccable social skills compete?

As a viewer I'm not a populist. I seek out artists and works with dexterous intent, control over form, style, and content that shows the artist knows his or her stuff as well as has a distinct individual voice. How do we preserve and embrace our individuality if all we're doing is becoming advertisers who seek popularity? If auteur-driven films is one's passion, audience participation in their creation is a tough sell at any meaningful level. I'll see Lance Hammer film or a Bresson or a JP Melville film, but not a crowd-sourced film because of what it will lack: a singular honest soul.

I guess the point here is, how do we clearly, firmly, and concisely establish that the net should not be determining the content nor the artist's temperament, that films like Ballast will always have a market, that artists are always needed and appreciated for their individuality? The fear and resistance comes when feature length art-house filmmakers start hearing their content must be dictated by a market and then their film is only valid if they're famous in some way.

-Brent Chesanek