Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Stop complaining...

I hate looking at my blog after a few days and seeing that the last post is me complaining about something. I like using the blog to complain about stuff and it certainly helps, but it would be very easy to only ever use it for that. The internet seems to be mostly used by people who want to complain and I don't want to end up like the rest of the internet - except I'm now just complaining about the internet. Yesterday I even started writing a post about how much I loved The Social Network but it somehow turned into a complaint about script feedback. Sometimes not complaining about anything is really difficult!

I could talk about exciting real life things (instead of writing and film stuff which occupies a space that isn't quite in the real world) like the fact that my sister-in-law is getting married this weekend and I'm going to see Rob Zombie tonight. She's not getting married to Rob Zombie - those are two separate exciting things.

Actually the writing stuff isn't looking too bad right now. I'm working on two potentially/almost definitely paid projects at the moment so it looks like I might get some money for my writing this year after all. The trouble is finding the time to do the actual work, but I'll figure that out. I've spent a couple of evenings this week sorting out the line-up for next month's MovieBar which is looking pretty good. Sometimes I think I may have taken too much on with MovieBar, until I actually start organising stuff and I remember why I took it on in the first place. It's fun organising a mini film festival every month. What I'd like to do is figure out how to get more people to come, but there will be time for that.

So things aren't that bad after all and when I'm not angry and frustrated with film development problems and the amount of work people seem to expect me to do for free I'm actually pretty happy.

Which means I can now complain about the BAFTAs.

I like film award shows. I know it's all daft and incredibly self-indulgent, but I am the kid who grew up wanting to get an Oscar someday and I think they do a lot to inspire ambition. Plus its nice to celebrate the film industry every now and again. And I like the dead people bit.

Anyway, this isn't a moan about who won what. If it was I would argue that Christopher Nolan should win everything ever. This is about the televised BAFTAs themselves which every year becomes more and more celebrity orientated. On one level this is fine. The film industry needs stars, the star system has been keeping the wheels turning since the days of silent cinema and I appreciate that seeing the stars talking about how awesome they are in pretty dresses is part of that. The Oscars pushes this to the limit, but at least there is some sense that the less glamourous aspects of film-making are important.

With the BAFTAs the closest we get to this is the award for Cinematography and we're lucky to get that. Everything else unlikely to be collected by a star is pushed into a summary in the last 5 minutes. Yes, the awards are still awarded and I am only talking about what is actually shown on TV. But if you push Editing and Short Films and Foreign Language Films into that last throwaway segment when people are already switching channels it's like saying those things are not as important as Acting and...well mostly Acting - that seems to be the only one anyone cares about. And the kids inspired by watching this will all grow up wanting to be actors and we'll have a generation made up entirely of actors only there won't be anyone to make the films and they'll all be putting on one-man shows about the grieving process in the back rooms of pubs (I made that up - if you have a one-man show about the grieving process that you're putting on in a pub right now then good luck with it, I'm sure it's great. It would be less great if everyone was doing it). And yes, I'm exaggerating and none of it really matters anyway - there are already too many writers in the world so they don't appear to have been put off. But you can't present a world in which Editing is not as important as Acting. That just seems ridiculous.

And that wasn't even what I was going to complain about! The real problem is that after all this focus on celebrity and trying to compete with the Oscars, only a third of those stars turn up to collect their awards. The Oscars takes place in Hollywood, where the majority of them live and work. The BAFTAs takes place in England, where it rains a lot and no one is doing any work because no one has any money to pay writers with. I mean, no one has any money to make films. Because the system doesn't work here. We want it to be like Hollywood. We want to make films ourselves and show those films in cinemas. But we can't and we don't. Because ultimately it's still Hollywood that people will pay to see.

I don't want to turn this into a British vs. American thing because then it gets really complicated with money and talent coming in from all over the place. But I do think there's a real opportunity with the BAFTAs to showcase a few films that may not get the attention otherwise. No one is going to rush to see True Grit because it got nominated for a bunch of BAFTAs. They'll have already seen it because it got nominated for a bunch of Oscars. Meanwhile the more interesting British films of this year have to compete for attention in made-up categories like Best British Debut or Best British Film That We Think Deserves Some Attention But Won't Be Nominated For An Oscar Because There Is No One Famous In It. The BAFTAs can't compete with the Oscars in terms of star attendance so I don't think they should even be nominating the same films. Why not do something different with it that might actually help our film industry?

That said, I'm glad The King's Speech did win so much because they had actually turned up, it was good to see Aaron Sorkin win for The Social Network (my other favourite awards film this year next to Black Swan) and it was fantastic to see Christopher Lee being alive and stuff.

That's it. I'm done complaining for this week, I promise.


Blazing Modesty said...

Love this post. Might marry the writer...
Also, a bit disturbed by the idea of my sister marrying Rob Zombie. Would be cool but strange. Overall I think her choice is better.

Mark Moynihan said...

Agree with all Bafta comments, also convinced that your sister should marry Rob Zombie, or at the very least have her first dance to Dragula

Chris Regan said...

Knowing who she is marrying Dragula might well be on the playlist somewhere!