don’t fix it right???
Well apparently the way it works in mainstream media is keep the same formula till something eclipses it!
Just finished watching Singing in the Rain, you know with Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds! Fast-forwarded through the sappy parts and honestly the title dance sequence still stands up brilliantly! And the dubbing scenes with Lina Lamott, “No, no, no” “Yes, Yes Yes.” Are still hilarious!
(And the only reason I watched that was because I’d seen the same actress that plays Lamott in Citizen Kane just a day earlier.
She plays Kane’s second wife, Susan Alexander in CK.)
But anyway, there was one scene in Singing in the Rain that got me thinking. It was the scene where they were having the wrap up party for the latest ‘duelling cavalier’ formulaic picture with the silent film stars and they had a demonstration of a ‘talkie’ film.
Of course the irony that they’re portraying all this in a ‘talking’ film aside…it’s still quite obvious this is a sensation, but people at the party dimiss it as not a threat.
So the industry doesn’t change until another talkie film becomes a smash hit, and of course, as they say, the rest is history.
So remind yourself, that as long as a formula keeps working, as long as it ‘aint broke’ why on earth would they ever fix it?
And yet cinemas are crying out because, huh? Nobody’s going to the movies any more!
Read an article about how Peter Jackson had been credited with saving the cinema industry single handed with his new Hobbit franchise, because Lord of the Rings before it, it’s the type of picture that you really should see on the big screen.
And that reminded me of a fascinating conversation I had with an ex film producer, at breakfast, at the Asian Festival of Children’s Content in Singapore this last May.
I met this lovely lady from South Africa. She was a wonderful artist! Loved her portfolio, and she’d brought her husband who was dressed in scruffy khaki shorts and had a long frizzy beard, and who looked the furthest thing you can imagine from a TV executive, even a retired one!
(By the way, let that be a lesson to you! You never know what a person’s credentials are in this biz, so it behooves you to be NICE to everyone!)
I ended up joining the two of them for breakfast and then the lady told me what her husband did!
I had actually considered taking one of the novels that had been uniformly rejected, but which I still think is a fabulous story, and turning it into a screenplay. But when I pitched it to him, asking him for his honest opinion, first thing he asked was, “Who’s the audience?”
I said, “Mainstream.”
He shook his head. “Nope. It’ll never happen. There’s no parts for white actors.”
His wife looked embarrassed and tried to apologize for him. He shrugged and said, “I’m not trying to be cruel. Just don’t want to waste your time.”
For a second I just sat there dumbfounded, the truth of what he’d just said, reverberating right through me.
And then I thanked him for his honesty and for really, not wasting my time. But I couldn’t help saying, “But it’s a really good story!”
He dipped his toast in the runny yoke of his eggs and shrugged. “Doesn’t matter. As long as what they’re doing is still making money, still bringing the audienes to the cinema, why would they stop? There’s LOTS of really good movies that never get produced!”
Yup. Yup. Yup.
If it aint broke…
(By the way, I’m trying to be a lot pithier with my blog posts! I realize I’ve been rambling on way too long! Going to try to keep it to less than 500 words. Over and out.)