Friday, 25 July 2008

Hollywood Babble On & On #135: Harvey Weinstein, Blogger

Welcome Harvey to the wonderful blogosphere. Pull up a seat, I see you've got a blog up, is it your first one? Okay... Well, let's take a look at it. Oh, I see that it's about independent movies, and how hard it is to sell them. That's for sure. Let's see what you have to say.
There have been a number of recent articles accusing me of not focusing on films like I did when I was running Miramax. It's simply not the case.
I can believe that, you seem to be focused a lot on Fanboys lately. Perhaps a little too much. I recommend decaf. Okay, now you're talking a little about the critically acclaimed and award winning British film Boy A, and how you're having trouble getting the film the attention you feel it deserves. Well, that's tough to do when you release a small film with a niche audience in the middle of the summer blockbuster/starlet bikini season. Let's see how you got around that...
Believe me, I've tried to appeal to their senses, and even lied and told them that Tom Hanks is in the movie, but then they IMDB the movie and find out I'm kidding. So, you see, its not that I'm not focusing on great independent films, it's just that no one is paying attention to them.
Hmmmm.... Now Harvey, don't get me wrong here, but telling the press that an actor is in the movie, when he's not in the movie, is not going to help you convince them that you're "focused."

Especially when your whimsical jape is centred on Tom Hanks, who hasn't been exactly burning up the charts lately. Sure, he can still sell some tickets, but he's not exactly the king of the mountain he was in the 1990s.

Of course, the 1990s was a time when a lot of people were on top, who aren't on top now.
Anyway Harv, I can call you Harv, right? No? Okay, Harvey. Mr. Weinstein? I called you Harvey before? Fine. Let's get back to your blog Mr. Weinstein.
I remember a few years ago a critic for a very reputable paper said there weren't many interesting movies out, and I asked him if he'd seen Baran, an Iranian film we were distributing at Miramax, and he didn't know what I was talking about.

Let's face it--I know everyone has their job pressures, especially in media, where gossip reigns supreme. So why would the media want to deal with a tough-minded movie when they could write about the youngest young starlet?
Okay. You make a nice point, it is very hard to get people in the press to talk about your film, and not the artificially ample cleavage of the latest starlet to forget her underwear at home, but don't you know that the old dead tree media is, if not dead, definitely gasping as they go down for the third time, and not in a good way. There are new media outlets in the world now. Many of them quite popular, and much more influential than the old New York Times. Yes, I know all your friends read the New York Times, but your friends are not the rest of the country. You know, those folks who live in the unfashionable cities? Yes, people actually live in those places, and they go to movies.
Independent films still are the underdog, and I've been fighting for years to get them seen by audiences. People have been entertained, they've escaped the heat and reality in movie theaters, but have they been impassioned by a movie this summer?
Apparently The Dark Knight seems to be doing this with audiences, while at the same time being a crowd pleaser par excellence.
Have they talked about it long after it ended because it left them seeing something in a different way or questioning reality? And I don't mean trying to recall who designed Carrie's wedding dress--but the bigger questions.
That's what folks have been saying about The Dark Knight. They haven't been the sort of questions you might dwell over while trying to find a non-private profile on A Small World, but folks are talking, and apparently thinking about more than Heath Ledger's death.
Independent films have engaged in a conversation with society and have only made it stronger. That's why my brother and I continue to make films--to take risks on the little-known screenwriter with great vision and challenge the status quo of the entertainment industry. The industry and the entire society thrive when innovation prevails.
I admire that you continue to make films, my question is why don't you release those movies. For there to be a conversation, someone has to say something first. Just a thought. I know it looks good on the books to have a film on your shelves for 2 or three years, but don't you think that an independent company should put out an independent film when there's some momentum behind it? You know, striking while the iron is hot? Remember that little maxim?

And the films you do release, don't exactly challenge the status quo of Hollywood. More like telling Hollywood that they're okay, because they'll watch films no one else will watch. Too bad most celebrities and critics don't pay for their tickets... eh?

Anyway, I'll turn from your dirty look and get back to your blog.
You can blame the economy, you can blame conglomerates, but instead of pointing any blame, it's again time to unleash the passion, courage, and know-how to make smart deals that made independent films great to begin with.
Great idea, why don't you? You even started a company called Third Rail, to be a literal dumping ground for films. How can Showtime be expected to get any viewers from that deal you made with them, for a bunch of films no one has heard of?
The creativity is still there, and the movies are being made. Fifteen years ago, Sundance Film Festival had only 500 submissions, this past year there were 5,000. Just like in the industry, the competition between independent filmmakers has grown, and the dialogue their films created has resonated with the public.
5,000 films, and you'd be hard pressed to find one, outside of Juno, that captured the imagination of the public the way flicks like Reservoir Dogs, did back when Sundance only had 500 flicks. I'm afraid that little festival lost its cachet when Paris Hilton started hanging out there in her designer ski parka and skank-heeled snow-boots.

One of the biggest problems with independent films today is that they gave up trying to resonate with public, choosing the easier path of resonating with an elite clicque of critics, celebs, and monied types who like to fancy themselves as transgressive artists or subversive radicals as they sip Kopi Luwak Lattes in the back of their customized Escalades watching the beautiful people take over Park City.

In ye olden days, independent film tried to fill gaps that the big-studios were ignoring.
Yes, there are a lot of comic book films, and in some cases, good comic book films, being released, but not everybody like that sort of high concept fantasy. They are willing to pay to see smaller, more challenging films, if they know that they will be entertained as well as challenged.

Now they're just too scared of paying good money, only to be bored and lectured at.
What do you think Mr. Weinstein? Where did he go? He just left me all alone in the blogosphere.

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