The Word is Out - Film and Video in Royal Rumble

From: jarrod whaley. (email suppressed)
Date: Fri Mar 03 2006 - 00:18:26 PST

Jason, et al.--

I'm certainly not advocating wholesale profiteering. Far from it. I'm
talking much more about cultural viability than economic viability. I'm
talking about being in touch with reality and keeping up with the times,
for God's sake.

I'd agree with you that work produced with a profit motive isn't likely
to meet any realistic interpretation of what constitutes art. But I also
don't think there's anything wrong with making work available to as wide
an audience as possible. If filmmakers don't want an audience, then why
make more than one print? Why do the co-ops exist? The vast majority of
us might like to have a few people see what we do.

I think you missed my point entirely. If you want to (or have the means
to) watch film prints exclusively, then have at it. Not everyone can
spend several hundred dollars to rent a print every time they want to
watch a movie. Are they to be denied the ability to become familiar with
any kind of work that, as you say yourself, isn't motivated by profit?
Even if it is made clear to audiences that video reproductions are just
that? Just what or whom is it hurting to make videos/DVD's available
alongside film prints? The geeks and aficionados will seek out the
prints, and everyone else will watch the videos (and be perfectly happy
doing so). Don't want to watch video? OK, don't. But most people want
to. I guess they can go to hell, right?

Here's where the "respect for the artist's intent" response crops up. OK...

Can you imagine a world where no photographic reproductions of the great
paintings existed? Isn't that the kind of world you're arguing for when
it comes to film? No wonder most people swallow Hollywood's bilge. It's
the only kind of cinema that exists in the public mind.

As you pointed out, many avant-garde films are available for free on
file-sharing networks. Is the quality very good? No. Why? Partly because
video isn't as capable a medium as film, sure. Partly because these
freely-distributed copies are third-generation copies of washed-out
bootleg VHS tapes (or crappy DV footage of an actual projection,
whatever). Because no quality transfers are available. Hmmm.

The point is that people already are choosing and will continue to
choose video, even when all they have is poor quality. Nothing will
change that. In fact, that will become more and more the truth as time
goes by. Would you rather viewers watch bad quality reproductions, or
high-quality ones? Because no matter what you decide, they WILL watch

I wish we could all sit around and watch film prints all the time, too.
I also wish I could fly. Wishes don't help me very much when I try to
bend the laws of physics to meet the demands of my desires. And you know
what else? I don't know about you, but I like to eat. And I can't very
well do that when I'm spending thousands of dollars on a medium that is
becoming increasingly archaic and irrelevant with each passing day.
Yeah, film's beautiful, and it's great, and it's too bad it's going
away, and blah blah blah. But its days are numbered. Just ask Kodak. So
what do we do now? Do we number our own days with it, or do we keep
working? I don't know about you, but I'll take option #2, please.

Finally, and again, I can't help but agree with you that a filmmaker has
the right to prohibit video reproductions of his/her work. I just don't
think it's very smart, whatever the reason for it. Video copies WILL
appear. It's just a question of who profits from those copies:
filmmakers, or bootleggers, or nobody at all.

I'm as romantic (Romantic?) as the next person, but I also know that
sometimes you just have to be realistic.

-->jarrod whaley.
filmmaker. videographer.
web designer. educator.

For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.