Re: Jonathan Marlow's "There are far too many people making movies that have no business picking up a camera" idea

In his follow up to the post about film festivals and indie film distribution, Jonathan Marlow says the following:

"About 20 years ago, David Thomas (frontman for the legendary Pere Ubu) suggested that there were far too many bands in the world. I think it's time to revive his appeal and apply it to the motion picture industry. There are far too many people making movies that have no business picking up a camera. I've said it on panels and now I'll put it in print - if you're a filmmaker and you suspect that you're not up for the challenge, please stop! We've had enough. The business of filmmaking, like the process of politics, often discourages our best and brightest. These days, the good ones generally give up on the Sisyphean hurdles and find some other practical line of work. Audiences are then regularly left with a particular personality type that continues to make films-about-nothing long after they should've stopped. If we can promote the former and deride the latter, we've done our part."

Read Jonathan's entire post here.

I will have to disagree with Jonathan's position on this matter. I do not think there are enough good movies around, and good movies come out of filmmakers making a lot of movies, even some not so good movies from time to time. Even if there is a ton of movies, there really is no problem with more being made, just look at the book industry; some experts (book sellers, dealers) I just spoke w/ think more than 20,000 - 40,000 books* get published in the US every year these days. In a similar way, in a country with 300 million or so people & a world with 6 billion or so people, I don't think there could ever be too many movies. The distribution system for the large number of indie films available now has not been fully developed yet, but many people are working on it, and in time it should be possible to get every film to its interested audience; just as thousands of books enter the economy each year, it should be possible to accommodate thousands of indie films each year, I think, eventually.

Distribution aside, people who feel inclined to make an indie movie should go ahead & do so. Because, even if the first few movies are not too impressive, it is possible that over time the filmmaker will develop his or her skills and will create some very interesting movies. For some support for this idea take a look at Jim Jarmusch's Permanent Vacation and compare it to his Mystery Train or Dead Man; Jarmusch's filmmaking skills definitely improved over time, in my opinion.

For over a hundred years only a relatively few (usually wealthy and or well connected and or assisted by the wealthy and well connected/Hollywood, or few INCREDIBLY driven and resourceful) individuals have been able to make movies. But now, with the availability of digital formats, it is possible for any seriously interested individual with a day job in a first world/developed country, with some sacrifices in time & spending, to create an indie short or feature over a long period of time. Now is quite possibly the best time ever for people who are interested in making movies to go ahead & do it.

And by the time they finish that movie & or improve their filmmaking skills a couple of movies down the road, the indie distribution problem may be solved.

*update: according to this New York Times article, 175,000 new books were published in 2003.

- Sujewa


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