Sunday, April 26, 2009

Why do movies and TV suck?

DL writes: With so many great ideas out there, why do we still see horrible movies out there on the silver screen?

Movie studios are in the business of making money. They are going to make movies that audiences will see. You and I can bond over not wanting to see OBSESSED, but it doesn't really matter, because more people paid to see it this weekend than anything else.

If you want to get into this business with the intentions of making art, of conveying your vision, of being experimental and avant garde, go ahead. There are plenty of people making independent films and otherwise artsy things. But if you intend to make a living in the mainstream Hollywood system, you have to learn to accept that money and audiences matter.

I don't see why you can't try to do both. Make a good film (or TV show) that people want to see. I think this is the goal of most people, really. Even money-focused studio executives never sit down and think, "let's make a piece of shit." They think, "let's make something millions of people want to see." I think it was Scott Rudin who said something like, "With the privilege of making movies comes the responsibility of making them great." And something tells me he's not suffering through bowls of Ramen for his art.

DL, I think your question actually has a lot to do with attitude. If you think that all the movies and TV shows out there right now suck, you're probably going to have a career of frustration and disappointment. You're not gonna show up and change how it all works.

I think it's important to be informed and to think about the big picture - sometimes. Mostly, though, I think you need to worry about writing a great script. Write stories you're passionate about. Don't waste so much energy being a hater.

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Kristan said...

I love your response to this; what a positive attitude. :)

Dan Williams said...

Sounds good!

Another reason why movies and TV and also novels have poor quality is that the authors do not know the craft of story-telling. They are probably just feeling their way on instinct, which seldom produces good work.

Ian Fleming was not successful with his first four books. See a few pages from "Live and Let Die" and the quality is really poor. This was his second Bond book. Then read a few pages of "On His Majesty's Secret Service." The quality is super-excellent. He learned the craft, worked at it and success was the result. Any author who writes this quality will be successful.

Emily Blake said...

It's also because of the collaborative nature of filmmaking. You can start with an amazing script, and by the time it's gone through all the executives with all their various opinions, it's a piece of garrbace that used to be worth something.

LazyWriterOnTheTV said...

I write about one TV script a month. Write it, love it, deliver it, then let it go.

The high volume nature of the show (a 5 day a week serial) means I'm constantly being over-edited and rewritten. That's just network TV. It's got very little to do with my story telling ability. At least I hope it doesn't. Oh, now look what you've done.

It's what you sign up for.

You really can't be precious about your work in TV. Not if you want to keep getting paid.

Dan Williams said...

Lazy Writer On The TV, I'm sure you're story-telling is great, and it's great to have the ability to write a script a month, and see it produced.

But as you say, there are others in the process that can come in and lower the quality since they do not know the craft, don't know how the story beats have to fit together to make the story high quality.

But the craft can be learned, and even writers who get published or produced can greatly improve the quality of their writing by learning more of the craft as Ian Fleming did.

Eric Myers said...

Well put.

Even if the audience isn't in mind, sometimes people have different visions. Even if everyone is trying to be artistic, saying something meaningful, sometimes those competing visions can mess it all up...

Not that I'm speaking from experience or anything...