Anyone for revolution?

Whatever happened to the DSLR Spring? ☛

1960: a film called Breathless was released that revolutionised cinema. It was shot on 16mm film, a technology previously only used for newsreels.  The French New Wave that followed inspired the counter-culture movies of the next decade, and left a mark still visible in the films we make now.

Five decades later: I, and many others, predicted that DSLR cameras (also designed for journalists) could stimulate a digital New Wave that would continue Godard’s revolution. Finally the prohibitive price of filmmaking had been swept aside – the basic technology to make a film could be bought for the cost of a second-hand car – and a new generation of filmmakers could go wild. I anticipated trends I’d love and trends I’d hate. I expected Peter Biskind to be gleefully gathering dirt on a new generation of Easy Riders and Raging Bulls. I waited for movies to be turned upside down.

I’m still waiting.

Cinema technology is moving at missile speed, but the creative innovations you’d expect to accompany the new cameras, sound recorders, editing, grading, mixing and projecting devices are yet to explode. Why?

Andrew Haigh’s “Weekend”: the spirit of the Canon 5D

It’s not that DSLR cameras haven’t been used for feature films – they have. They have even been used in a number of good films such as Like Crazy and Weekend. But such films are few and far between; most DSLR movies are utterly unremarkable. Ironically, a greater number of edgy, experimental films were made during the DV era of the ‘90s. That, far inferior, technology was embraced by directors such as David Lynch, Harmony Korine, Danny Boyle, Michael Winterbottom, Mike Figgis, Lars Trier and Wim Wenders. I’ve not heard of any of the above so much as touched a Canon 7D.

“28 Days Later” the first wave of the digital revolution

One reason up-and-coming filmmakers are failing to embrace the experimental potential of the cameras may be because we’ve got cannier financially. Go to any Q&A or seminar where a fresh-faced filmmaker is talking about their newly released debut, and they’ll tell you one thing: completing the film is only the first hill they had to climb. Getting the film to the public, in any form that would make money, was at least as hard.

In fact, you can make the job of getting your film to market considerably harder if you don’t first find out what the market wants. If you’ve chose to make a drama (i.e. non-genre story) with no stars and low production values you’re doomed unless you take the festivals by storm. And sometimes not even those elegant little laurel wreaths will guarantee paying off your credit card bills.

Quite reasonably, a lot of filmmakers have got real and now mean business. They’ve found stars… well, starlets… well, faces you’d half-recognise on a poster. They’ve picked a genre that has a following. They’ve spent as long on their business plan as they have on their script.

This careful preparation means that their films make it through the system: they have a brief domestic cinema release followed by run on DVD. The film makes a reasonable slice of bread and butter for their distributors, a modest return (perhaps) for the investors and nothing for the filmmaker. But that’s okay: the filmmaker has got to boss everyone around and see their vision come to life. Not exactly their vision: a compromise between their vision and market forces. But basically everyone’s happy. Except the crew, who were on deferrals and never see a penny. Or the critics – who are tired of watching the same film over and over again. Or the audience, which is wondering where its evening went.

I have nothing against cheap genre films. An inventive use of genres – combining them, relocating them geographically or chronologically, changing the gender or the race – can be fun, and can lead to unexpected creative ideas. However the business model I’ve just described doesn’t rely on a movie being inventive… or being ‘good’ in any way, it just has to be made. And made so that it will fit into a ready-made box.

In the business plans of these films lies a clue to their mediocrity. All such documents include a section where the success of the project is predicted by the past performance of similar movies. There’s a list of usual suspects that appear in this section: The Blair Witch Project, The Full Monty, Primer, Paranormal Activity, Once, Monsters any film that turned a shoestring budget into ruby slippers.

Most producers know that they’re pulling the wool over investors eyes a little here: success stories like these are few and far between, and cannot be guaranteed.  But still they diligently reverse engineer these success stories, looking to find out what made them hits.  Few producers, however, spot (or they don’t acknowledge) the most significant common factor that was at the root of most of those successes.

The secret of these runaway hits reveals a flaw in the basic business model, which is founded on an incomplete understanding of market economics. The real runaway successes in any field are not those products that follow the market: they are those that lead it. This is doubly true when what you’re selling is a story. Few films on that list of usual suspects would have been able to find comparators to settle investors’ nerves; they just weren’t that similar to anything that had gone before.

In some ways movies are still a circus sideshow. The vaudevillian cry “Roll up! We’ll show you something you’ve never seen before” still works. Novelty alone is enough to get your audience excited. And afterwards they want to have that experience again. But if a film is made that’s similar to your story, that very similarity dictates that it won’t be as fresh. Too many films that trade off the success of an original, even if the follow-up is made by the same filmmakers, soon meet with the law of diminishing returns.

Statistics back this up. The 10 films offering the highest returns on investment since world war II were all original stories, in the sense of not being adaptations, many of them were genuinely unlike anything we’d seen previously.  Despite being a genre film, Paranormal Activity’s approach was new, and it was rewarded with a staggering 1.3 million per cent return. That figure should surely be enough to get any investor excited.

“Paranormal Activity” terrifyingly successful.

Surprisingly, however, this is not what investors want to hear. They want success to be more predictable; they want to see steadily rising bar charts, rather than wild spikes and inexplicable troughs.

And this is where the DSLR revolution fits in… or could fit in, were it to exist. The greatest disincentive to experimentation is fear of failure.  Ours has always been an expensive art, the most expensive aside from architecture. Mistakes are costly. The ability to make movies with little more than available resources means that cautious investors can be removed from the equation, and with them a lot of the nerves about risk-taking projects. There’s little to stop micro-budget filmmakers from embracing novelty and make the boldest, most original movie of which they can conceive.

Needless to say, a lot of these films will be dreadful: amateurish and incredibly misguided, but such films will not get picked up. They will only bother film festival programmers (sorry guys) and the friends and family of those who made them. Besides, a lot of low-budget films are already awful. Awful and derivative. At least the awful films of the digital revolution will be dire in new and unexpected ways.

The upside, however, is that those films that aren’t dreadful will be fresh and unexpected. Like the French New Wave before them, they will rejuvenate cinema. And, boy, does cinema need it! Genre has been interbred for so long that its DNA has grown weak. Even mainstream cinema won’t last long without new blood in the gene pool. We need fresh ideas, or the very future of the species is bleak.

But the window for a DSLR revolution will not last forever. Right now the quality difference between the cameras used on Hollywood features and those available to new filmmakers is the smallest it’s ever likely to be. Hollywood is pushing new technologies – 3D, 4k and HFR, and the cameras to make such films are well beyond the purse of emerging filmmakers.

So what have I been waiting for?

What have you been waiting for?

If you’re a filmmaker and you, like me, were bewildered by the poor crop of films in 2012, the answer lies in your hands. We’re the only people who are going to make films of 2013 worth watching. Let’s take up our cameras and set out to make the movie we want to make. Forget compromise with what we’re told that the market wants. Study that list of usual suspects and commit to making a film that’s unlike any of them. Let’s use the resources we have to hand to capture our own unique vision. We need to get Breathless again; we need to start our own New Wave.

xxx

Copyright © Guy Ducker 2013

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Comments
17 Responses to “Anyone for revolution?”
  1. aaefilms says:

    Though there have been some great efforts on DSLR and it is an absolutely amazing tool for the no-budget film maker, it is limited in its ability to make that revolution that was heralded.
    For the “weekend warrior” with a dream, a script and no cash, DSLR film making unleashes before undreamed of potentials. With an affordable camera and a pack of lenses, you can make a film. Brilliant. You can ask your friends to hold the boom, set the lights and crew the camera and dress the set or have their moment of stardom in front of the lens. All for a pizza and a beer. Brilliant!

    But I have found in the next higher level of film making, you might get real, talented actors for deferred or even free if you have a quality script and they see a value in having the clip for their reel. Some of the other creative staff might be committed for some promise of deferred pay. But at this level of production, if you do not have trained professional crew, the quality will suffer and it will slow down the speed of production. And coordination of the schedule is perhaps the most critical element in film making, because if you fall behind, you add days to your shoot and go over budget or make the film impossible to complete. So the cost of the crew, gear, transportation, wardrobe location, fees, (set construction if any ) and props as well as costs of feeding this burgeoning army and it all starts to rapidly dwarf the cost of a professional film style HD camera. This does not even get into the post production costs which can easily dwarf the entire costs of pre-production and production.

    Those successful features shot on DSLR were often doing it for the “edgy-ness” of using DSLR rather than financial impact and had a full camera crew to use the DSLR. This is another issue, when you are doing a low budget production without a fully staffed and trained camera crew, it is hard to get the best results from a DSLR. The razor thin depth of field can make great shots but make it hard to follow cinematic action. I am already tired of seeing DSLR films that have moments of soft focus or totally out of focus filming. Also even though these DSLR have the ability to receive top quality cinematic lenses, many are using cheaper photography lenses. Let’s face it, it comes down to the glass. So even once you look at the photography department being a relatively small line of the budget, the cost of renting great lenses may be more than the cost of renting a camera body like a RED.

    There are so many factors that go into making a quality short or feature film marketable, watchable and enjoyable, that by the time you have the budget, the camera is the last thing you want to skimp on.

    If you are that talented amateur or low budgeted professional with more dream and drive than cash and an army of (hopefully talented) friends willing to come along and support your dream then you can shoot on DSLR and edit on your laptop and make a great no-budget film. And there is a revolution happening there. Sadly, in many of those videos , the picture quality far outweighs the script, the talent in front and behind the camera and the overall production values. There are great films made in this way, but they must contend with the “white noise” of and endless stream of “youtube” videos and so most will never be seen except by those involved, the network of friends and a few internet surfers.

    You do not need to wait for the revolution. It has arrived. There is a revolution, but it remains grass roots. The people getting the most out of this revolution are below your radar and mine, as their productions will never require your talents. They will be editing it on their laptop while downing a latte at their favorite coffee bar and posting it on web video sharing platforms hoping to be the next internet sensation.

    – Richard Trombly is an American film maker and journalist based in Beijing. You can tell him how wrong he is about DSLR, film making or life in general at : richard@trombly,com

  2. joeteevee says:

    Brilliant post Guy. I could not agree more. (Also smiled at the phrase you’ve coined: `DSLR Spring’.)

    And – in support of / further to, all your points here, and with reference to the digital editing revolution, it was fascinating to see the “almost exactly every 2 years” pattern, be broken by the four Top-20 ROI films that emerged in 2004: Primer, SAW, Open Water, Napoleon Dynamite.

    if it’s of interest, there’s a graph here, that shows what is (arguably) a remarkable `market correction’ (given the prior ten-year gap in *any* Top 20 ROI films from 1983-1993)…

    http://storyality.wordpress.com/2012/12/23/storyality-53-patterns-in-the-top-20-roi-films-frequency/

    Anyway – thanks again for a great post Guy. I agree – we absolutely are due for another New Wave/Arab Spring in feature film culture.

    I also can’t wait for: http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118064707/

    ie …the new feature by Shane Carruth, who made `Primer’ – ie – one of the top 20 ROI films, & also possibly the most intelligent – and coolest – and low-budgetest sci-fi time-travel movie, most people have never seen
    (um – unless of course, you’ve seen it… 🙂

    Cheers
    JTV

  3. Ivan Noel says:

    Amen.
    The story above, is mine exactly, and my baby revolution is here!:

    Taken the vampire theme and turned it on its head, with near zero budget, and 300 actors!

    Thanks for post, man.

  4. The reason the DSLR revolution hasn’t happened is really a simple case of the fact that when making a movie, the type of camera that you use is the smallest part of the equation. There are too many people who think that having a DSLR means not having to be concerned about lighting and crew, or even story! Making something look good on screen doesn’t demand any less effort or expertise just because the camera is cheap. In fact the opposite is true because the cameras are less capable.

    A few years back there was a German movie called Kampfansage. A martial arts film shot on a Canon XL1s with a 35mm lens adaptor on the front. They spent a lot of time on cinematography, lighting, effects, and sound. As a result it looks and feels like a “proper” film. It took them a few years to make. And therein lies the problem. Making a decent film on a small budget with an affordable camera is far harder than making a fully financially supported film, and there is an even higher requirement to have exceptional talent to pull it off as a result.

    • guyducker says:

      Simon, you’re right in a way. The percentage of the budget spent on camera and kit in general is a tiny proportion of the budget of a movie… a big movie. However, when you get down to the more current microbudget level of about £50,000, the cost of the camera starts to become quite a significant line item.

      But my claim is not that people aren’t making films on DSLR camera; clearly they are. It’s about the sort of films that are being made. My contention is that the possibilities these cameras present to make movies that are personal or bold or experimental are currently being missed. We need to stop trying to remake Hollywood fare on a microbudget and kid ourselves that anyone will be interested by the result.

  5. Matt Jamie says:

    Interesting thoughts. My view is that the cheaper the cameras get, the less good (on average) films will get, because more and more people will be able to make “affordable” films, and, as other people have commented, the camera is only a small part of the equation. In a similar way, there are now more and more “actors” out there, desperate for some screen time, with less experience and more likely to do films for free – so the overall quality of work on screen and behind the camera is less and less, as more and more people make their own films with their pals on screen, using on-camera sound and a script which was “improvised” or “shot in 24 hours” as if that’s supposed to make it good! As the skills (cinematography, acting) which used to be only available to trained professionals become apparently accessible to everyone, it leads to a false expectation that making a good film is easy. Sadly that’s not the case – and having an original idea does not arrive in a box from amazon. (I say all this myself as an actor and photographer, and now DSLR film maker – all the films I’ve made have been works in progress where I’ve developed my skills, but never made anything I think is “it”. DSLR cameras have been revolutionary for me, as I already understood the technology and now can make films where I can get the look I would want to achieve without spending thousands. But I’m well aware that I’m not going to make a revolutionary film without a lot of thought and preparation before the record button is pressed…)

    • guyducker says:

      Matt, certainly many DSLR movies are dreadful and will continue to be so. This is the inevitable result of democratisation: quality falls. There are a lot of people out there who want to make films, but don’t want to spend time getting the the training or experience to make good films. And God forbid that they should actually have something to say!

      However, as I observe in my piece, most if not all of these films will never see the light of day, and probably better that way.

      As for story, anyone who reads my blog will know that I’m a passionate advocate of Hitchcock’s dictum that the most important thing in any film is “the script, the script and the script”.

  6. dylan says:

    Several of the people above have highlighted some bigger issues with low budget filmmaking. While I agree completely that the canniness of independent filmmakers has led in some ways to increased derivativeness, that’s not the real problem. The real problem is twofold: 1) as noted in some of the responses above, camera is only one aspect of a film. Locations, (good) crew, props, etc all cost money, and lots of it. 2) Story, story, story. The fact is that commercially successful filmmaking is without exception good storytelling. That is not to say that there isn’t room for deviation and invention, but there are many strong basics of storytelling that are not being learned, either by independent self taught filmmakers or those who come out of high end film schools. There are a few filmmakers who do understand storytelling well, just not many of them. And those who do, and ever get enough access to materials to put a presentable film together generally make at some level or another. This is perhaps the place where most of the low budget independents mentioned as models in the article lead us further astray – few of them have compelling stories – Once, Blair Witch, and Paranormal Activity are all borderline storyless (the Full Monty ist he exception here). They all rely on innovative concepts or techniques, in the case of horror, to get the job done. But even in the horror genre, a good story that is scary is always better than is only scary. That is why people will keep watching and learning from Jaws for years to come, where most all the myriad Halloween clones have already faded away in our memory.

    • guyducker says:

      Even though in this article I’m not really talking about ‘commercial filmmaking’ (there’s another whole article to be written on that phrase), I would of course agree that that a good script is vital if the film is to be good. I take that as a given.

      I would disagree, however, that many of the ‘model’ films have bad scripts. “Once”, for example, has a beautifully plain and simple story. It doesn’t have much actual plot, but that doesn’t make it storyless. “Blair Witch” starts with a very strong narrative set-up and develops well, but does admittedly end up with a lot of aimless running around. But so do many Hollywood horror films.

      The point is, that if you’re to make a film that’s remembered it needs to be more than just good storytelling. There are plenty of competently told stories out there, but so often we’ve seen the movie a million times before. I’d like to see DSLR filmmaking being the petri dish in which new strains of narrative inventiveness are developed.

  7. well said guy. I think we all procrastinate for many of the reasons you cite. We (as film-makers) are far more educated about the film business and he more we know the less we want to throw caution to the wind. Making a film is not enough, it has to be seen and at some point someone has to pay so we can all continue to justify what we are doing to our peers, or sadly join the rest of the world and “get a proper job”. Of course, we don’t want to do that and ultimately, in order to live in the privilaged world as an artist or film-maker we must take chances. The script is king but then we all need to find willing accomplices who are prepared to take the ‘risk’ with us and share the spoils.
    Please free feel to drop me a line at paul@starfishfilms.co.uk
    good luck eveyone.

  8. fluidfilm says:

    Great article. Got me thinking. Narrative features is the hardest place to push the envelope. The experimental film making IS happening. It’s on Vimeo. It’s in music videos. It’s in TV ads. It’s in school projects and Summer explorations. It’s in travelogues and animations. It’s at interactive and computer graphics festivals. I think the tough thing is to sustain an audience for 90 minutes with something really innovative. The key feature is that it has to be brilliant. DSLR is a small part of that. Nobody cared what camera Slacker was made on, or Catfish or Paranormal Activity. It’s good ideas for innovative features that will always be the diamond in the rough. The camera is just whatever those innovators can get their hands on at the time.

  9. lesbutchart says:

    Great article! I’ve been wondering the same thing. I made a feature that I believe offers something different and fresh, and will soon be self-released, so I have been pondering the same question you so eloquently pinned down. But I think other factors are at work, cultural forces, and a dumbing down of culture in general. I think the issue may come down to a need for original, fresh voices more than fresh visions. Filmmakers who have something to say that’s worth hearing and seeing.

  10. Guy, you are partially correct. Certainly about the business model. But you’re missing a bit of a piece of the puzzle here. The DSLR revolution is happening, but the market hasn’t caught up yet. Put very simply (and ignoring a lot of detail):
    In year one, you manage to scrape enough cash together to actually shoot your film;
    In year two, while eating Ramen noodles and maxing out your cards, you post the film and start submitting to festivals – but not all at once, if you’re smart; you have apply to the “high end” ones first, so more time goes by while waiting;
    In year three, you actually get into some festivals, maybe get the attention of a distributor or rep, and maybe make a deal;
    In year four and five, the rep finds a distributor, or the distributor puts it out to various channels (cable, VOD, DVD, maybe a tiny theatrical).

    So there you have it – it takes four-to-five years to really finish an indie film. Given that the Canon 5D is just about five years old, expect a batch of films to come out in the next year or so that are (a) experimental and daring, and (b) are shot on the 5D or similar camera.

    The other issue is that a LOT of people are making wonderful, fresh work, but it’s not getting past the festival circuit, because either it doesn’t resonate with buyers (who are looking for more commercial fare), or the filmmakers are completely broke and can’t do much about it.

    Lastly, as others have commented, the revolution promised by the DSLR was always overhyped. You still need to pay for insurance, crew, cast, transportation, food, sound recording gear, locations… it doesn’t really help anyone get their experimental vision off the ground unless that vision is dirt-cheap or they were on their way to raising the money anyway. What these cameras do offer is: * a way of shooting while remaining practically invisible; * innovative camera placement; * low cost for production value; * great low-light performance; * reduces your camera-related transportation and media costs to almost nothing; * gets the director closer to the actors (which is always a good thing).

    And yes, I directed what I’d consider to be a more experimental sci-fi film, “Found In Time,” and we shot it on a Canon 5D Mk. II. The camera gave us a wonderful degree of freedom from common production constraints, and held up really well under some less-than-ideal lighting conditions.

  11. mauricespees says:

    Love it! So true. While artists are nowadays also the producer, they might loose their creative ideas by focussing on the money part to much. At least that’s what I see.
    While in big productions everyone involved has their own focus, even while they have no idea about the big picture. The bigger the production, the more details, the more people are involved of course.
    I am into DSLR filmmaking too, but after seeing the fake world that is created in the mainstream noadays, real life and real things become far more interesting. Because it almost seems that we forget about how beautiful the real world actually is. A world were today we have to learn to play it together.
    Most amateur filmmakers don’t base their films on real life, but on other films. It’s all the same! They all involve fake guns, and all that shit, just because it’s cool.
    I love films but the formula which is used in films, is really overused. Everything is predictable. The more budget, the more predictable the movie is! I don’t know when but I am sure people will become to socially intelligent to still watch movies.
    We want something in which we can recognize something of ourselves, like a mirror of hidden parts we normally would not give attention, learn something, actually experience something in a film that is as unpredictable as real life is.
    What is predictable is:
    People are probably going to look for a completely different form of entertainment. Which involves more interaction with groups of people, not sitting in an individual film experience. 3D will die soon again, the same as it did in the 80’s.
    So eventually the making of a film together, can be far more thrilling then watching the end result. That means filmmaking is becoming far more social then it was in the past. And the way of interacting as makers, like musicians, can be felt in watching the film.
    It’s a social happening. And that’s why everyone can buy a camera nowadays.

    We don’t need fights who is going to shoot or direct the film, who get’s the mainrole etc. Now we are all into it together and all want our film to be made, because the world is asking for it. Our awareness that we’re all tapping in the same infinite source of creativity is at play here. There comes a time that we don’t put our names on things, but just put it out there, because it’s time.
    If we don’t base films on the things that we’ve seen in the movies before, but on real life, we start to live more consciously and that involves losing the ego. So we actually witness we’re part of the most beautiful movie, that is life itself.

  12. Ken Barnes says:

    Thoughtful and well-written article! Good stuff!! So many things have changed since The New Wave that the comparison to 2013 is tricky. For one thing, access to equipment in the 60s and 70s, even 16mm, was neither as easy nor as cheap, relatively, as access to kit is today. What this means, as others have pointed out, is that the floodgates are open and finding quality in the deluge is probably a lot more difficult than it once was.

    However, there was also a cultural revolution going on during The New Wave which was inspired by an intellectual and philosophical outburst. One can argue the merits and legacy of it all but, for better or worse, there was definitely a movement/revolution that captured the imaginations of a lot of people. It was a time that will be remembered for its ethics of ‘liberation’ and I think helped bring about great changes, if not the ideal society imagined at the time. Such energy no doubt inspired artists and filmmakers like Godard and Truffaut to create some of their most notable films.

    I don’t see any such movement going on at the moment. The only ‘revolution’ that gets talked about is digital (read: non-human) and we are all kept in awe of so-called ‘advances’ in social networking, while spending more and more time with cyber friends and less with real ones. It will be argued that social networking led to the Arab Spring, especially in Egypt, and that is not to be discounted (although it’s a mess at the moment). One might also cite the Occupy Wall Street (and The City) protestors as evidence of a new social movement. It remains to be seen whether it can become a definitive force; perhaps as economic chaos gets worse, the protests will increase. However, the power elite and its capitalist cronies have learned their lessons well and are much better equipped to crush any resistance, it seems.

    I might be wrong but when any movement arises only from protest, and without a great deal of philosophical weight behind it, it’s not likely to create any lasting changes. Without touching the human spirit and soul, social movements are flashes in the pan. The same can be said for art in general and film in particular. And while there have been a few films that have touched on ‘new revolution’ themes, have there been any that have touched us so deeply that we are changed?

    Its becoming a bit of an old chestnut, but I think the most touching moment in recent social movement history was the iconic image of that man with the plastic shopping bags standing in front of the tanks near Tiananmen square. There we saw courage in the face of overwhelming power. We all felt like that little man and for a brief time felt hope for the freedom he represented. Then hope was crushed. Again.

    Most of the films mentioned in this discussion so far have been ones that, while perhaps innovative in style or structure, are made to entertain, and not to inspire or further any deeper exploration of what it means to be alive in the twenty teens. And much of the discussion circles around at some point to how to fit into some economic model(s). I worry that such thinking ends up serving the same political-economic system that is, mainly, responsible for dulling our souls and the source of true innovation. It would be great if indie filmmakers could transcend that.

    There will always be a few artists who find ways to work from the callings of their soul, without too much influence from the ‘reality’ (economic or otherwise) that they might be criticising. That’s what makes them rare and important (and perhaps obscure). And there will always be millions of others who want to make ‘the next big thing’ and become well known, perhaps even rich and famous. Very, very rarely comes a filmmaker who makes a work of art that both touches the soul and becomes commercially successful. I suppose that’s the way it should be. I don’t think our souls could take being touched by every work we see. We’d implode.

    A lot of filmmakers (including me) have probably thought, ‘If only I could win the lottery. Then I could make a truly independent film, sky’s the limit budget, and say exactly what I want to say free of the system’. In my opinion (and I could be in the minority), we would need to ask ourselves: Would that film inspire people to think about their lives? Am I sufficiently sensitive and aware of the most important issues of our times to create a film that touches a great number of people? Without asking those questions, I’m afraid we’d be creating more cotton candy floss.

    I’ve been rambling, but my main, admittedly biased, point is: No matter what your budget, no matter what kit and technology you use, if you’re not reflecting (or advancing) the spirit of the times, not touching people in a deep way, then you’re not making best use of your time and creative energy. There will be no DSLR or other film ‘Revolution’ until the filmmakers are revolutionaries.

  13. guyducker says:

    Ken, you raise a great many interesting issues. I agree particularly with your last sentence, and inspires a realisation in me that one reason why we’re not seeing more specifically political films from the DSLR revolution is because we’re looking in the wrong place. Those films are there: they’re documentaries. The rise of the feature-doc has allowed politically motivated filmmakers to make their statement in a more direct format.

    But I’m not just talking about revolution in a strictly political sense. While Godard was very political, “Breathless” was not explicitly so. It expressed a spirit of the times, possibly even inspired it. Remember, it was shot in 1959, some years before the sixties were seriously swinging and a full 9 years before the Paris uprising. Movies can help encourage social change, rather than respond to it and comment on it. Goes back to leading the market rather than following it.

    Bottom line for me: ANYTHING a bit different from micro-budget filmmakers would be so welcome!

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