The story of getting a film made ........again!

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes!

Came across an interesting piece from the Tokyo International Film Festival over the weekend, you can check it out here. It offers an insight into the business of filmmaking from the vantage point of an Oscar winning Irish screenwriter and director Neil Jordan, and it’s not a comforting one. I’ve long since felt that change is now such a constant feature of how people consume their entertainment that finding calm waters is a bit like setting your course for a safe harbour in the middle of a storm with no compass, rudder or sail. Where ever we’re going, few can predict with any accuracy and the driving force behind all this flux is as Neil Jordan stated, the internet but not I believe exclusively.

Other factors at play are gaming and quality TV drama on our 50 inch LCD screens with surround sound (not to mention the endless hours of brainless gunk). The multiplex has now been staked out as the preserve of the “studios” who have the deep pockets to drive marketing campaigns that sometimes cost as much as the visual extravaganza they herald. It’s not that difficult to get a film into the cinema chain, especially now with the arrival of digital projection. What is enormously difficult is to get an audience into that film and if you fail to do that, it’s pulled.

Take a look at Entertainment.ie and you’ll find a list of 42 films now showing nationwide in Ireland. Filter that list to find films which are relatively low budget, non-star sfx driven, independent films and according to my count that amounts to maybe 4, non of which will make their way to my local 4 screen cineplex here in Kilkenny. When the cinema going demographic arrive in the multiplex lobby, the last thing they want to see is the quiet, contemplative drama made on a shoestring. Yet we shouldn’t lose heart, in recent years films like “Juno”, “Sideways” and “Little Miss Sunshine” have all done well at the box office. And what about the success of “His & Hers” and “Once”, both made for less than €150k.

The glory days of 1970’s cinema have probably passed for all time, never to return. A decade that gave cinema films like “The Conversation”, “Dog Day Afternoon”, “Badlands”, “Rocky”, “Chinatown”, “Taxi Driver”, “One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest”, “Day’s of Heaven”, the list goes on. All films I believe that would find it difficult if not impossible to get funded today.

So yes, there are I’ve no doubt many film directors who are unemployed, finding it difficult to get their projects off the ground. But many have migrated to TV and the gaming industry and that goes for writers too. Normally at this point I like to draw some kind of conclusion but find I can’t. We’re in the midst of a revolution and how that turns out is quiet honestly, a crap shoot.

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