By James Fair If I think back to the drunken bet in Dublin, when I said that I could make a feature in three days, I believe I have proven my point. I think the audience approval makes my point even further, as it was not only made in three days, but people also liked it. More importantly, I hope that we have helped demystify the production process and gone some of the way towards inspiring filmmakers to try different approaches.
However, the goalposts are now being moved, and people are asking whether it will have a life after the festival. I hope that it can, although it now competes alongside other films in the conventional fashion, jostling for distribution and exhibition deals. If we go back to the aims and objectives, we never designed a plan for what we would do at this stage, which was perhaps a mistake.
I believe there is currently a great deal of methodical examination of distribution and exhibition channels being conducted simultaneously by academia and by business. I have a constant concern that cinema is being marginalised in favour of more dominant screens, especially those of Internet and iProducts. As a filmmaker who fell in love with cinema in the darkened rooms of my local multiplex, I can’t subscribe to the loss of the collective experience of the big screen with no remote control. Whilst I am intrigued and excited by the emergence of technologies and concepts such as VOD and transmedia, I don’t currently use them and I don’t want to see their rise indicate cinema’s decline.
“Innumerable confusions and profound feeling of despair invariably emerge in periods of great technological and cultural transitions. Our “Age of Anxiety” is, in great part, the result of trying to do today’s job with yesterday’s tools – with yesterday’s concepts.” Page 8, McLuhan, Marshall & Fiore, Quentin (1967) The Medium Is The Massage (California, Gingko)
McLuhan’s quote may be 43 years old but I genuinely don’t believe we have exhausted all avenues in cinema. I believe that we rely upon technologically spectacular advances to constantly woo audiences, and whilst that may have worked in the last century, it won’t work as effectively now. I feel that if we altered some of the ways that we made film, the audience could capture a sense of quality that didn’t depend on 3D glasses or special effects. It is because industry defines these elements as quality that audiences are desperately expecting to feel it, but they aren’t necessarily detracting a quality experience.
“Quality in a product or service is not what the supplier puts in. It is what the customer gets out and is willing to pay for. A product is not quality because it is hard to make and costs a lot of money, as manufacturers typically believe. This is incompetence. Customers pay only for what is of use to them and gives them value. Nothing else constitutes quality.”
Page 206, Drucker, Peter (2007) Innovation & Entrepreneurship. First edition 1985. (Oxford, Elsevier)
We can find solutions to many of our challenges through action followed by analysis. I believe that academic analysis by itself is of little world value and can lead to paralysis of activity, therefore it is important to create as well as criticise. I believe that film academia should stop standing on the sidelines of industry and actively engage in helping out during this paradigm shift. Whilst they are not there to be the research and development department of the studio, there is little value in them simply analysing cinema from a distance. Being truly innovative is to think of something and to make it happen. Thinking about it and not doing anything is not innovative at all; it’s just creative thinking.
It is for this reason that I have found it a pleasure to guest blog for Ted over the last few months. I think the quality of discussion upon the Truly Free Film blog is a valuable contribution to our community. It is important that we keep our contributions constructive. Machiavelli wrote, “The innovator makes enemies of all those who prospered under the old order and receives only lukewarm support from those who would prosper under the new.” This has recently resonated with me, especially when I would receive criticism even though I never envisaged 72 as being anything other than an inspirational exercise. However, I’ve tried to see other people’s frustrations and loosen my own resistance to them.
For some on the outside, it appeared as if we were stealing a slot in a major festival without having made the film yet. It looked like we are saying that it doesn’t take three months to shoot a film, it takes three days. It seemed were ‘showboating’ and ridiculing the filmmaking process. We actually set out to create a transparent process that inspired other filmmakers, but I can see how that may have got lost in the message. Hopefully our continued presence here upon Truly Free Film, as well as Chris Jones and Randy Finch’s blogs, has meant that we’ve had a chance to get our undiluted thoughts upon the 72 Hour Movie project ‘out’ there.
Thanks to those that have supported us along the way. If you are interested in finding out more about ‘The Ballad of Des & Mo’ and the 72 Hour Project, please visit our website www.72hourmovie.com and join us at www.facebook.com/72hourmovie .
James Fair is a lecturer in Film Technology at Staffordshire University, UK. He has directed two features in 72 hours. The first film, ‘Watching & Waiting’, was shot in Galway, Ireland, as part of the 20th Film Fleadh in July 2008. The second film, ‘The Ballad of Des & Mo’, was shot in Melbourne, Australia, as part of the 59th International Film Festival in 2010.