Story: And the myth of Art vs Hollywood.

Posted: October 13, 2009 in Movies
Tags: , ,

Do you grow weary of “typical Hollywood endings?” Do you crave the “art” films in all there indy/eccentric non-english glory? Are you, like Alan Moore, bemoaning the death of imagination? (See my blog on Death of Imagination) Not so fast, says, Robert Mckee, author of Story.

Story is one of the most acclaimed entries among countless books on how to write screenplay. I won’t be talking about his screenplay advice, but will address his theories on Story in modern society.

Mckee points out what most of us know, but maybe never thought of. Every year Hollywood makes over 400 films,  and buys thousands and thousands of scripts that will never be made. During the 1990 s, Hollywood spent $500 million dollars a year on script development. 3/4s of that were for movies we never saw.  (McKee 13) As much as critics hated Transformers 2, for the most part there are no better movies than those produced. “The hard to believe truth is that what we see on the screen each year is  a reasonable reflection of the best writing of the past few years.” (14)

As far as Hollywood” vs “art” films are concerned, consider this. The Fisher King, Blue Velvet, JFK, Dangerous Liasons, and Do the Right Thing are all succesful “Hollywood” movies. 1988’s, The Accidental Tourist made 250 million world wide, more than most action flicks at the time. (2008’s Benjamin Button made 332 million, which was more than say, John Rambo)What the artsy snob calls “Hollywood films” are the 30 some FX movies, usually released in the summer. These are far less than half the films that come out each year. (39)

The “Art Film” typically means non-hollywood, often narrowed to do foreign, and more specifically European. This of course does not include gory Italian horror/action films or hardcore German pornography, but rather the few good European films that are shown stateside. (39)

Finally he addresses a cliche we all know, you have to learn the rules before you break them.  It’s ok to want to make something “avant garde,” but before first master the basic craft or else the results are just a bunch of weird stuff. Eccentricness is not creativity, it’s just odd.

That’s all I’ll cover, but he has many fine points on screenwriting.  I included myself among the cultural snobs once, but as I become a grumpy old man I see their pretentiousness. Plus some of them are just weird, and that’s something coming from me.

It was easy to be a snob 10-15 years ago. The blockbuster type movies of my college days were terrible; Batman and Robin, Independence Day, Armageddon, Fifth Element, etc.  My last semester I flocked to the downtown theater that started showing indy-flicks, and I saw some real good stuff like Bufallo 66 and Smoke Signals. (They also showed Pi, but I saw that later) Of course it didn’t last, being it was a small town and all. But anyway most blockbuster type movies nowadays are actually good, Iron Man and The Dark Knight for example.

Anyway to our art snobs, stop whining about Hollywood, get your nose out of the air and get cracking on the craft.

Good writing

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