THE PLIGHT OF THE MODERN AUTEUR
A MAJOR BLOW TO THE INDEPENDENT FILMMAKER occurred on October 1st, 2003, when Jack Valenti, head of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), issued a ban on the sending of “screener” DVDs to Academy Award voters. This decision would prevent the Oscar voters from viewing smaller films that have difficulty finding enough funding or distribution deals to hit theaters.
The voice of the independent filmmaker is dying and drowned out by major studio productions, yet through the turmoil at least one sees hope. My understanding of the plight of the modern auteur (director as the sole author of the film) has allowed me to recognize the importance of the independent filmmaker and pave the way for a continuing constructive and artistic existence.
It is the duty of the independent filmmaker to acknowledge that the tools used for reproducing visual perception and interest are the greatest that man has ever known. Marshall McLuhan, renowned for his contribution to late 20th century intellectual thought, certainly understood this as he introduced the concept that “the medium is the message.” In an environment of approaching and absolute corporate and commercial media control, it is vital that the independent filmmaker recognize that he is a divine bright light in a salty dark sea of increasing artistic and intellectual futility.
My first motion picture is a 6-minute digital video short, titled Mass Education. The story or, as I prefer, pictorial montage constructed illustrates the threat prevalent in society concerning the privatization of the most important resources available to the masses - information. I commenced production at the start of my junior school year and completed it just after the end of it.
It is a strong grip that the motion picture medium has on its artist, like a mind to a philosopher. Reminiscing about the process of creation and the resulting fruit, I must say: It represents the sum of my absolute determination to become an artist; a true independent filmmaker. While my first film took more of a realistic approach, my next (which I hope to begin principal photography on soon) shall have me exploiting the formalistic capabilities of the medium.
On the threshold of a new digital revolution that would allow nearly everyone to be a filmmaker, it is a refreshing thought to be among the pioneers of a new, easily accessible and wide-spreading artform. Though the profession of the filmmaker, let alone the independent filmmaker, is one fraught with financial insecurity, I am still optimistic that independent filmmakers such as myself will pierce through the hard reluctant husks of the mainstream audience and serve a great good. Nothing stops a filmmaker.