Monday, January 9, 2012

Gatekeepers

I don't, myself, pay much attention to the Academy Awards -- okay, I pay no attention to the Academy Awards, and could not tell you who won what last year or even what categories exist, exactly.

Still, I find this specific latest development disheartening: The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is going to require that documentaries be reviewed in either the NYTimes or the LA Times before they are eligible to be considered for an Academy Award.

It's hard to read this as anything but an attack on the independent -- on the small -- film makers who have been proliferating lately, the film-making equivalent of the tiny independent presses that have also been showing up everywhere, now that the rules for media have changed.

In 1995, back when Dr. Skull and I made our first movie, making films was a hideously expensive proposition, even for tiny little movies like the one we made. $30,000 was a cheap movie. A couple hundred thousand, that was more like it -- and we're talking a very cheap independent movie, even then.

But now? With digital film and programs that let you do your own cutting and syncing? Not to mention SFX advances? Seriously, almost anyone can afford to make movies, and can make movies, and is making movies.

So how do we keep the serfs out?

Michael Moore, who appears to have engineered the change, says the process is meant to excluded "vanity" films, and television films. But surely if a movie is not good enough to win, it won't win. And the fact is, most small films, made by indie directors, lack the resources to get the wide distribution they will need to garner reviews in the NYTimes and LA Times -- the point Moore, who seems to have been ignored in favor of independent documentaries in the awards lately, apparently is counting on.

Michael Moore spoke up for the 99% recently, at an OWS protest. And he's famous for his first movie (an independent film) Roger and Me.

These facts make this self-interested movie even more disappointing.



1 comment:

  1. Wow. Having only limited access to the news any more (mostly what I glean from NPR as I go in and out of our bedroom in the morning and from glancing at the msn page before opening my email), I hadn't heard this. I'm very disappointed in Moore. I'm sure going through the myriad numbers of independent films to find those few diamonds had a lot to do with it as well, but word of mouth should work well to help the powers that be in finding said diamonds. :(

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