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Thursday, April 22, 2010

The long, long shot?

In all honesty, this Blog was first created to keep Chuck and me on point. And to this end, it was successful. We finished shooting quite a while back and I edited the film and added sound and made a DVD and sent out dozens to festivals and peers.

In previous posts I tried to update the film's status in the festival circuit. Cannes was a longshot, as were TIFF, Berlin, and Venice. But, Chuck and I are surprised to find that no festival has accepted our short. This includes SF Intl., Annecy, and a few other small venues I felt certain would find Rung of interest.

What this means for animated independent short films that don't make use of CGI? I'm not sure.
What this means for stop motion films? I'm not sure.
What this means about our film Rung? I don't know

Both Chuck and I agree that a decade or two ago, a stop motion film like Rung would have likely been more attractive to festivals. But with the inclusion of more mainstream films in smaller and smaller festivals, and heavy reliance on CGI and 3D, the competition for independent films has become more commercial (especially with the inclusion of folks from Pixar and Dreamworks and all the resources companies like that provide for their employees.)

This is not to say that commercial short films aren't good. Or that they aren't art. But that a bully film like Logoland could win an Oscar is truly a disappointment. The 'golden arches' reach far and smother all...

So where is the niche for art films today? Where can independent films, the kind made by folks in their basements, find a home and an audience? This is tough to answer, even for an auteur of said art films. My gut tells me there isn't much more than Youtube, where you are lucky to get a handful of one line responses.

For the few folks who have seen Rung, the reactions have been positive. There is a powerful 'wow' factor, especially from those with a nostalgia for miniatures and models and shooting with actual film. But that 'wow' seems to be the pinnacle, and nostalgia doesn't sell unless it's geared around the self serving 80's. Consider Hot Tub Time Machine.
That's not entirely true, and my intention isn't to come off as bitter.
The best thing to come from Rung is the interest sparked in first time, and reasonably seasoned, animators working on their own films. A reminder of what you can do with some creativity and a low, low budget.

I teach in the Bay Area (computers if you can believe it) and several students have used Rung as a study tool. I field a lot of questions, but find myself encouraging less students to pursue stop motion - specifically for any project over 30 seconds long.

To those who continue making art films, I applaud you.
To those hoping to fashion a career from those kinds of art films, I ask that you tread carefully and pay close attention to which films the 'industry' is hungry for. My guess is that 'art' has less to do with it than say, technique du jour. As if the film industry is always in search of a cheaper and more efficient microwave oven. Seems that story is less important than product placement, or that story is only important if it illustrates simple violence and anger. But isn't that always the case?

For those of you who press forward regardless, who push the boundaries of creativity rather than their computer's processor, who research established techniques and masterworks, who pass along the craft and endure, for those of you who make films - my heart goes out to you.

1 comment:

Jack said...

great film! Keep your chin up friend, there's always someplace out there for us independies...