Sunday, July 21, 2013

Jon Jost vs Steven Spielberg

Years and years ago----was it 1986? Jon Jost did a filmmaking seminar followed by a workshop at the University of Oregon. I was working as a dishwasher and could only attend one. It started with a brief discussion of whether this was the seminar or the workshop and how one could distinguish a seminar from a workshop. I think the consensus was that it was a workshop, but we didn't dwell on it. One guy ran to 7 Eleven and got some beer.

This was before digital video and even before Hi8 or SVHS video. Jost said that if he were starting out making movies then, he would film on Video8. They were the first camcorders to have flying eraser heads for clean cuts between shots, which VHS camcorders didn't have yet. He said to film the thing in sequence and when you were done, push eject and there it was----your finished movie! If you want to add music, transfer it to one inch tape so you didn't lose quality.

One student muttered something about a tape-to-film transfer. Jost dismissed it. Just show it on videotape. If you want to, use a video projector.

The film students were aghast at the thought of making a movie that couldn't be shown in a cinema.

If it's your first movie, it probably won't be any good anyway, Jost assured them.

Today, it's hard to imagine film students reacting in horror at the thought of people watching their movies on television, never making it into theaters.

Which is why I found that thing with Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, warning about Hollywood's collapse, rather stupid.

They weren't saying that their movies wouldn't be made or seen, but they were horrified that Lincoln and Red Tails almost didn't make it into theaters. Lincoln almost went straight to HBO. They talked about Hollywood's potential collapse if five or six quarter-billion dollar films failed in a row, as The Long Ranger, $225 million, is failing now.

But when they said this, they seemed to be talking entirely about showings in theaters. Only the really big movies would make it onto the big screen. Everything else you'd watch at home.

I assumed that film students took it for granted that their work would be shown this way. Which seems fine to me.

It's kind of disappointing. You see the headline about Hollywood's collapse and you get all excited, then it turns out that's all they're talking about.

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