Thursday, 24 June 2010

It’s not Size that Matters

I reported last Sunday on how the current economic climate has tightened the onetime unfettered reign of A-list directors. Directing a high-profile Hollywood movie is a serious commitment for any filmmaker and because movies are a director's medium you would think it essential for studios to perhaps cutback on other perks rather than devalue the status a great director by requesting they submit a multimedia presentation in order to convince executives they're worthy of the gig. A movie will take up at least 2 years of a director's life and they will usually shepherd the movie from development through to eventual release. While an actor or editor will accommodate more films within that two-year timeframe, a director will be slavishly devoted to just that one movie. Therein lays the problem when some young prick with a shitload of ambition comes along and manages to snag a gig merely because he was a more cost-effective option.

How are these cinematic wunderkinds being taken so seriously? It maybe economics but that's not the whole story. They're going to great lengths to catch studio eyes and investing a great deal of their own creative investment and money into creating platform products that illustrate their worthiness to handle more epic material. We all know that British short-film director Rupert Wyatt is directing RISE OF THE APES for 20th Century Fox off the back of a couple of calling-card shorts and a British indie feature that was merely a modest critical hit with even poorer box-office results. Yet, Wyatt is now making what promises to be one of next summer's major hits and will feature a pretty solid cast. There now seems to be a craze of late with short films/extended trailers like Patrick Jean's Pixels, Carl Erik Rinsch's The Gift or Kevin Tancharoen's Mortal Kombat reboot being used to generate interest in full-on features. Even Jamie Foxx has spent the past two weeks shooting a trailer to serve as a pitch for a potential drama series entitled Tommy's Little Girl. Sam Rami's Ghost House Pictures shingle acquired the rights to Fede Alvarez's 4-minute short sci-fi Ataque de Panico and signed him up for a seven-figure sum to craft it into a longer feature film. What's shocking is Alvarez made Ataque de Panico for an alleged $500.

Perhaps upon hearing what happened to Alvarez, Aaron Schoenke invested $27,000 of his own cash into a 30-minute short film called Batman: City of Scars. I guess the plan is for studios to consider Schoenke as someone worthy of taking on bigger projects for a fraction of the price. It is even being rumored Marvel Films is planning on releasing a number of 10 minute short films before its upcoming superhero movies in theaters in order to introduce secondary comic book characters that may end up with their own full-length feature films in the future. If anything it seems short films are now becoming a major commodity for anyone wishing to prove their stripes. We in Britain have never been fond of having to go the extra length by investing our own time and money into doing anything on spec. most writers here are unwilling to write a screenplay unless it's on commission. In a way it's understandable because the UK is, and will be, a cottage film industry. But you don't get something for nothing and to really break out one may have to seriously consider seemingly reckless moves that could potentially deliver greater dividends.

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