Filmmaking Studies

8 1/2. Picture courtesy Columbia Pictures.

8 1/2. Picture courtesy Columbia Pictures.

Once upon a time, after years filmmaking was established like a job and people were for years going to the cinemas for to enjoy movies, it was invented the trailer. The trailer and teasers were originated as a way of to create the expectation of the audience. Having in mind than on those early times not everybody in the world could receive the information by the press. It was hard to create this sort of emotive links which films create in our days. Knowing that it was created the trailer and teasers -respectively-. They used to be screened before the main film. Mostly after the news section or the cartoon short story. Of course, this happened all before television was invented or commercialised like a domestic must. Old times indeed.

Since those first trailers to the actual ones, the audience has changed considerably in storytelling tastes. If anyone is interested in this it is simple to check: take a classic trailer like Casablanca and any modern one. You will notice in the old trailer format they almost told for full the story on the trailer while, in our days, it is about to do not say so much.

There has been all sort of trends on the trailer telling format; checking several films in several periods of time, it can be seen this more clearly. However, it is surprising how, at my studies, I found people whom totally disliked trailers because they said they were a way of to brainwash. Wait a second! I was studying Filmmaking Studies and not psychology if you wonder. However, and from here I would like to make a call to the Spanish Government because with the years I have learnt is their responsibility to name the degrees. Please, do something. At Spain it is called to Filmmaking, Radio, Advertisement and Media Studies: Audiovisual Communications. If we send our CV outside this country they think by the name of the degree we are some sort of “human resources” and if we send it on Spain they ask us what we do. When we say it is about cameras, video… They ask us if we repair them. So, please, do something. Change the name, put an alternative name… I do not know… We are in Europe. That our fellow from other country does not have idea what is this degree about is quite discouraging but that the fellow in our own country knows it even less… Well, it is not nice at all. Do you know it? Fine. I had to say it.

Leaving aside this “naming” point and going back to the five-year degree… Yes, so many fellows disliked trailers. They said they were horrible and in most cases, they already told the film before to see it. Which in part it is true depending on the trailer…

Anyway, the issue here is simple: “if one person thinks a trailer is a way of to brainwash, how do people get connected to the new releases?” It is an interesting theory because on those times I am talking Zuckerberg had not made his invention yet. Those people did not like to watch tv because they said it was manipulated and they only trusted the certain paper press, each one had their own brand, but it seemed all of that faded when someone at my country created the “anti-smoking law”. It was then when it seemed both political parties had betrayed my whole generation prohibiting them to have fun and to enjoy.

Like most of my audience is from other countries let me explain you. Here, the tradition of my generation was since they had 14 years old to go the weekends to the public spaces, mostly squares, to smoke and to drink so much. It was called “botellon” which is like this sort of crazy Spring Parties but each weekend. Independently that I have been a weird and I had so much to study. Most of the people I met at college were raised with that sort of “party tendencies” and when anyone has those sort of unmeasured liberties… Well, they dislike when anyone tries to put the “norm applied” or to ask for logic and control. Quite impossible indeed.

The way those people had to connect with new releases was almost none because they disliked the traditional issues. So, at least it was one of this films which could expend millions on distribution and marketing campaigns they did not use to go to the cinema: A. They considered it expensive B. They preferred to expend that money for other issues C. Even to buy filmmaking books was considered expensive and it was better to invest that on a dinner or hang out when in fact they were their parents whom paid everything and not because most of them were working.

It arrived a moment in which they decided those films which were so advertised were not the cool ones either because there was some sort of “brainwashing” there too. So the only left were this films which mostly are independent but which they are oddities in filmmaking distribution. I mean, maybe the film is extremely good but there is a sort of deals, contracts, they cannot afford massive marketing campaigns… Conclusion: maybe they are only one week or days on the exhibition. That, when there was a “cinema” experience they wanted to have but in most cases if it was possible to download it for free and to watch it a home. Why should they have to pay for that?

And this was because social media was not invented but Napster was. Music, films… Anything… We know it. For a side, it gave the opportunity to “share” content for free: advocating “art must be free” and about the “free distribution of any artistic content”. For other, it causes millions of losses to so many filmmakers and musicians, in special, the smaller ones which could not compete with the huge titans or marketing campaigns that the Giants at the industry could afford.

Somehow, this turned in “it is great piracy” and people did not stop to think that they were studying to become the sort of people whom after, others will piracy. And when it happened and they discovered the time of the studies was gone and that if they made the “art for free” they cannot live on the air. It was simpler to blame the Titans whom could have afforded the marketing campaigns than to recognise their business model was wrong. Because people do not like to recognise their own faults.

I ran away from there after a gap year waiting to see if anyone decided to create content by their own but it did not seem quite frequently in some cases so I finished on a peregrine travel to the USA looking for answers. I schooled myself again and to my surprise, found people kept thinking alike.

They could not understand why do they had to pay for a software for to make the job when they could download it and to patch it for free. They even complained if the teacher convinced them to make the investment on the software because they said: “It is useless. If after probably I will hire a writer or an editor to make me this job why do I need these things?” And here is the point: “Why were you studying filmmaking then?” Not for anything, if people consider software is useless and a waste of money and they firmly believe on their first feature they are going to be able to hire everybody, even storyboard artist, not paying no one… Well, I must say that is not filmmaking if not to “believe so much”.

But the worst that they could not understand is why do they had to use the software the school recommended instead of any others which were free. Or why do they have to use the school facilities when they could be editing at their houses with a software which was patched and to do it when they wished to do it. Or why do they had to ask for certain cameras or materials to the college for to film when: A. It was available at the market all sort of digital cameras instead of reel ones. B. They could film with those cameras what they wished and they wanted without the college put them any restriction or they had a “tape/film” one. C. Even if the quality of the images was lower, they felt it was better because to have to ask for hours at the college facility for to edit or change the format -even if it was free- it felt to all of them a martyrdom.

It was shocking indeed to find the same sort of behaviour so many miles away but the most shocking was to find out most of those people did not want to attend any sort of event. Even if it was a free one created by the filmmaking school. There was always some sort of: “Who is he? No thanks, I am busy.” Or: “Sorry but I must do more important things.” I wonder: “if you are studying filmmaking which sort of things could be more important than to attend to free events with a well known: producer, director, photography director, actor…?” I supposed people were thinking it was more important to prepare or to work on their own projects. When, in fact, the surprise was that any sort of party was more important than all of that. Totally understood. We all know the important issues in life.

It is a fact, it seems in our days so many people want to feel special. They believe to have huge audiences online are the real path to make it in their filmmaking career. When the reality is not other than if one wants to be a filmmaker: he must film and if one wants to be a writer: he must write. To that, do not add any more complicated rule because it does not exist and if someone pretends to tell it exists. Well, it is a big lie. Other stuff is anybody would like to be a “successful filmmaker”. That is another issue because anyone could be successful in their profession but that does not mean s/he is famous or social media acclaimed. Maybe there are people who enjoy privacy so much and they are only known in their profession circle. It is another fact. For this reason, whom will confuse success with a large number or followers, to show up on newspapers… And those issues… He is wrong again. And whoever will tell you that is the “only path” s/he is lying to you again because the truth is there is not “one path” if not so many indeed. It depends on each one and the ways/he generates different opportunities how the things at the end will work better or worst but there is not any other “big secret” about anything of this.

Now, between all the films in the world. Why have I chosen 8 1/2 and Blow-Up for to make visual examples? For to share something which happened on those times too on filmmaking. Not only in Italy, there was a censorship if not in so many places of this world. Directors like Fellini and Antonioni were obliged to cut their work if they wanted to release it. It did not matter the script was about this, or about that. That there was a “not moral” scene… There was always someone at the censorship institute of each country who did not have an idea about art but who believed he knew more about culture than the director of the film. In some cases, full films were destroyed in storytelling terms because of the producer, directors… were obliged to cut scenes and to remove them from the final cut. To remove that implied the film did not have sense… Well, it was not going to be the censorship problem if not the problem of the producer whom probably will loose all that he invested. After all, it was a way of to control the art in some ways…

There is something you must know about real successful filmmakers: most of them are extremely creative, intelligent and they have a tendency for to break the rules or old norms for to create a new version of artistic mayhem. It is a fact.

So what they did those real creative people when some censorships annoyed them too much? To make films which not so many could understand to see if that way the censorship dared to ban a scene or the whole film. Most of them, in special at Europe, experimented with the surrealism techniques. There are so many films including 8 1/2. And some of them have a story, other are just a dream. Like any good dream, it does not have to have so much sense. But that was the trick for to see if they could fool the censorship. For the surprise, it was rescued an old tendency of to try to analyse and to “give sense” to all those films using all sort of metaphorical/Freudian issues. When the reality is they had not sense. They were made like that simply because they wanted to surprise, change the rules or to annoy the censors. And they were the censors the same ones whom created this “fake methods of analysis” which were made for to attack the artist putting him on embarrassing psychological situations than most of the times he was not sure about how to answer but which was the last ultra-conservative method to try to rid off of that artist who was annoying them. It arrived a point in which it seemed that way of “reading” was extended to some other sort of “filmmaking school” or something like that. And from here it has been a huge mental mess in so many heads about if this way of reading is the “progressive and the real one”, “that Disney is too bad for the sort of things they put on their films” -of course, if you read everything in so depraved ways I am not surprised Disney is bad, even Donald Duck wanted to get Mickey’s show… Imagine…-

In the end, it is all a battle against ignorance. It was Antonioni who said that if the culture was so advanced like science we should not have to worry about so many things. However, this does not happen and here is the problem that we carry on these days in which global popular opinion is moved towards any sort of ideology or opinion too quickly.

People have always had a defect which Vulcans do not. People like to talk a lot, in most cases without to know what they are talking about. Sometimes they do not even look for more information about that theme. And in 99% of the cases, excluding other species non-human living on this planet and with human appearance, they simply talk about an idea, event, opinion… Because any other is talking about the same and they cannot be less. It is all a matter of egos in the end.

Well, knowing these kids. It is important to remember how Blow-up was a revolution in the years which was screened and not only for the naked girls, the model issue or the photographer which was a murdered. It was for the Stg. Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club Band years issues. Everything was changing so fast, polarised: the artist was used by other people to try to drive them towards ideologies and if not those people messed with their works using the press in so many ways to make the artist feel bad… It is like now, actually, just that in our days there is social media and people believes “all the press” is the bad one when in reality it is not exactly like that. I will recommend to so many to make their own research before to be like the 99% of the humans.

Having all of this in mind. Do not limit yourselves, even less your stories. And do not give for granted that because you are not going to be able of to “hire” a crew or your pitch has not been accepted you are not going to be able to release your story. Maybe it was not the time yet for to make that. Maybe it was needed to learn more but… Like I am quite a Beatle maniac, I like to explain this with an old saying: “Don’t carry the world on your shoulders.”

Never let no one say your dreams cannot become true because they are not real. It is your mission to make them real. Work for them. Make them real.