Saturday, May 18, 2013

Quantity is important, too

I don't know if this is true but I heard that Will Ferrell developed the theory on Saturday Night Live that there was no point in spending more than twenty-five minutes writing a sketch. Putting more time into it didn't improve it or didn't improve it enough that it mattered.

Probably right. I remember being surprised to learn that most novelists did little or no re-writing. They would write the thing and when they got to the end, they were done.

And it was noted that Will Farrell has done ten movies in the time that Mike Myers has done nothing but a couple of Shrek movies.

Woody Allen has said that he knows there's now pretty much no chance of him making another great movie. But his father lived to be over 100, and didn't he have a job when he was 90? Allen's mother was in her late 90s when she died. And he's 77, so he could well have another fifteen productive years left in him. Some people have attacked him for making a movie a year and thought he should put more time into each one, but should he spend five years developing a movie at this point?

You'd think Allen would be like Sidney Lumet who did his last movie, Before the Devil Knows You're Dead, on digital video because he'd worked on celluloid for sixty years and, as he put it, it was a pain in the ass. Or like Eric Rohmer who used smaller and smaller crews as he progressed. His last films were just him, a camera operator and a sound man. Allen has less and less money to spend, but there are things he could be doing to cut costs and speed up production even more. If he cut back to a crew of three working on digital video, he could make movies as fast as he could write them. He could do thirty movies in fifteen years if he applied himself.

In other art forms, perfection is undesirable. Flaws are part of the aesthetic. Filmmakers like Guy Maddin intentionally make their films look primitive. Jon Jost has complained about people adding film scratches to their digital videos. Why intentionally add flaws when you can work really fast and have them occur naturally? There was a time when jump cuts were done out of necessity.

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