Birdman took home Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay and Best Cinematographer. None of which were a surprise to me due to the current condition of the industry.
Hollywood was taken over by marketing and business years ago, which led to the increased production of sequels and hero films based on existing comic books. This movement generated large box office dollars due to the economy and Americas’ need for hope to survive. Unfortunately, it was at the cost of creativity.
The industry is filled with creatives who are desperate for something new and unique. They want to take artistic chances and explore their craft, but always fall short by being put on films that regurgitate the same stories over and over again.
How many times can they reboot Spiderman? Sony is working out the kinks on the third version with yet another actor at the helm.
Only 15% of the top 20 films last year were original movies. The rest were either sequels, adapted from books or superhero stories. For a group of creatives that thrive on making their own stories, three films out of the top 20 is a far cry from what would satisfy an artist.
I can’t imagine what it would be like for a painter to spend the majority of his day painting ad campaigns and only 15% of his time expressing his feelings on canvas. Nor can I picture a writer penning marketing copy for most of the day and only write a handful of words to fulfill his need to express himself within a novel.
But, some how people in the movie industry have become slaves to the business and marketing teams who have no need to express anything creative.
It’s no wonder that the past three years the top Oscars have gone to stories about the industry and the pains or the forced draught of the artists themselves. Birdman speaks volumes about the desperation for a story that is new, creative and risky. It’s a revelatory film of artists’ desperation in the new Hollywood.
Film is not about money. It’s about story and artistic exploration. Yes, some have turned it into a moneymaking factory, while others have forced it to be about political messages, but in reality it’s just another art form of heartfelt expression.
This awkward set of circumstances is what drove the majority of filmmakers to create independent films rather than studio films. It’s also what is driving filmmakers to macro studios and away from Hollywood. Even the best writers are leaving film studios for independent television projects that will be released in non-standard venues.
Today, if you want a great star to be in your movie, all you have to do is come up with a risky story that’s never been done before. If it has a character that has great depth and unique qualities, you’ll be able to get any true artistic actor to sign on. After all, Hollywood is bored and desperate for something new to explore.
You can say the same thing for Christian filmmaking, too. It’s largely about selling tickets, not being creative for the sake of the Gospel. Thus most of the well-known and marketed films aren’t very challenging to the targeted market, but often create strawman adversaries to fire up that market.
And it doesn’t help matters when people line up to see a film like “God’s Not Dead” but show little interest to actual creative and edgier films made by Christians such as “The Song” or “Believe Me”.