Wednesday, July 20, 2011


I finally bowed to public opinion.

Overwhelmingly I was told I needed to get healthy. To exercise. To lose some weight.

So I joined a basketball team.

Two months later and I felt a slight difference, even though my pants told me that very little had changed. It turns out, you need to eat better too.

And then, last Sunday, I sprained my ankle during a game. Badly.

Now, I can't even take the stairs.

The worst part is that the injury happened against the worst team in the competition, who acted at times like they believed they were the best team in the competition. These days, anyone with a basketball and enough spare time can convince themselves they are good at the sport.

It is the benefit and curse of the post-modern age: the 'democratisation' of dreams.

It started many many years ago with sports, the most democratic of all. All you needed was a ball and the right playing area and you could dream that you were on the way to being Lebron James, Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan, etc etc etc......

Now, with the pace of technology, even the 'unreachable' dreams have become democratic: film and music.

There is an abundance of cheap cameras that shoot cinema quality films (google "Tiny Furniture", shot on DSLRs), cheap editing set-ups and software (thanks to Apple), crew and actors willing to work for free to get a break, and even direct to consumer video-on-demand services popping up (making it ever easier to reach an audience directly).

The result?

A sea of content. A media tidal wave that leaves the modern time-poor consumers bamboozled by options. Some of this wave of films is very good. Others very very.......very.......bad. Anyone for a screening of 'The Human Centipede'?

But that's the point. There are no gatekeepers anymore. The new wave couldn't find a way in, so they forced their way past the gates instead.

Is this necessarily a bad thing?

A friend and I chatted about what this glut of films means for our future as filmmakers. The answer, for me, is a simple one. I wish I had come up with it myself, but the credit very deservedly belongs to actor/comedian Steve Martin:

"Be so good they can't ignore you."

(He says it, 52:10 into this interview

So many people worry about what it means to have the tools of filmmaking democratised and their number of competitors dramatically increased. I keep reading this theme in blog posts and comments on indie film news articles. The truth is, though, that for years anyone could pick up a basketball and start playing. Despite this, there is still a world famous professional league and only a handful of players who have become household names, in spite of the millions who try.

Anyone can buy a camera and call themselves the second coming of Kubrick. Then there are the ones who work harder, sweat the little details and make tougher sacrifices to be considered the best at what they do. They race to the top instead of diving for the bottom.

Those are the kind of filmmakers that get noticed, that build an audience. Those are the kind of filmmakers we gravitate towards.

Except me. I'm at home. Icing my ankle.

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