Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Film Trailer Trash

Minuetto Allegretto!

Delusions of grandeur, we all have them in moderation, sometimes they leak out during heavy drinking sessions, other times they lull us to sleep, or even break out during walks. One thing I don't understand is these Indie Filmmakers who go around acting like "biggish time" Hollywood directors, not only do I not understand, I also don't see the point. There is good reason to cultivate and promote an underground culture of film, and that is because the cream rises to the top ... eventually.

The thing that makes me giggle is the "writer, director, producer, actor" job description mentality. It is like finger nails screeching down a blackboard, like chewing on Styrofoam, it is like cracking knuckles.

Similar to the "singer/songwriter" label that has become so popular in the music scene. My advice, choose one. Are you a writer, are you a director, are you a producer or are you an actor? Choose one or two that you are best at. Two is probably enough, no need to be a megalomaniac in a lunchbox. Using four titles for a job description means you really want to say "auteur" but don't have the body of work or consistent enough vision to back it up.

Why settle for just four roles when with a little print you could be "writer, director, producer, actor, runner, casting agent, part time burger flipper, fridge mechanic and regular on the 915 Bus to Preston".

One last thing on that is that frequently the over labelling is mocked and spoofed by the mainstream industry. Don't these people recognise that? The very industry they want to be recognised as being a part of constantly sends them up.

The other ridiculous side to all this puffing of plumage is the "pitch" - it is done with such aggressive vigor that when you look at the finished product, one can't help but think, god, all that for that? What a let down. What is the purpose of going around babbling that your film is the "next big thing"? Fact of the matter is, no one really knows what the next big thing is until it, well, is. Please don't ask me to get excited, please, please, I'm too cynical for the regular thrill shrill.

Another aspect that signifies the filmmaker already believes he or she is James Cameron is the over done "production company" logo. The logo clip is often more pronounced than the trailer or poster. Alright already, we know you have a production company, it is not the production company we are interested in, it's the film.

"Ignored Productions Presents an Ignored Production Film from the people behind Ignored Productions Presentations" - once again this stylistic element is spoofed and I'm always amazed people still go straight out and do it. It wouldn't make a smattering of difference if your production company used the smallest font and embedded the logo as a tiny watermark at the very bottom of the trailer or poster, it is the film people want to be drawn towards.

Also, mock Hollywood posters to accompany the film, usually with tiresomely oblique and clichéd log lines like ... "Who knows when it will come" (Which means expect a lot of badly done dramatic tension), or "Nothing is what it seems or ever will be again" (Which means the shots we got didn't edit as well as we thought they would), or "It would be their last chance ... and only three will survive" (Which means everything rests on the climax). I can't stand these imitation Hollywood big budget poster mock ups, they really do look tacky. They try and make the actual film something it isn't, and usually because the film isn't big budget Hollywood material, it is like a kid trying to copy daddy by wearing his over sized clothes.

Also, why do they try and make some connection to Hollywood? They aren't Hollywood, they never will be Hollywood and it shows a lack of knowledge in other forms of cinema from across the world. It's like watching a crowd in a Pokie joint, all hoping to land themselves a quick success, and the only meal they ever think of eating is McDonald's whilst they run around reenacting Simpsons scenes to each other.

Be happy being an underground trash filmmaker, if that is what you are. I don't see the point in trying to talk it up. Why attempt to make believe you are something you are not, clearly when the work speaks for itself. There are plenty of really interesting Indie filmmakers who are just content in making their work ... work, without needing to take over the world. There is nothing wrong with a creative poster at the helm of a production. Here are some of my favourite film posters to prove it.

Brazil - Terry Gilliam.

Withnail & I - Bruce Robinson.

Barton Fink - The Cohen Brothers.

The Jerk - Carl Reiner.

Dr. Strangelove - Stanley Kubrick.

Sleeper - Woody Allen.

And the list could go on and on but I'll leave it for another time, but creative poster making is an art unto itself.

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