Stuff People Say

Here’s a bunch of phrases, concepts and predictions that I’ve heard so often in the past few years that they no longer make any sense.

“Digital Projection will replace 35mm projections.”

Why hasn’t it yet? Because lawyers (for the distribution companies) and union leaders (for the projectionists) continue to argue over who should pay for all those screens to be converted, of course. If it were 1927 out (and I dearly wish it were), we would be saying the same thing about sound versus silents. The only difference between now and eighty years ago is that back then, with considerably fewer methods of speedy communication, thinks that got discussed actually became fact after a reasonable amount of discussion. One fine day in the late twenties, the pipe organs got thrown out and speakers got installed. And the changeover was complete. History can’t get made unless people make it happen.

“Digitial video will replace 35mm film.”

Why hasn’t it yet? Because it mostly looks like crap. Or, at its best, it is still simply not as good as film. I say this having shot two films digitally. One, ‘Tis Autumn’, the documentary that this site is devoted to, made perfect sense as a digital project. Shot reams of tape with no cost concerns. Looks as good as any doc needs to. The other, “The Thing About My Folks”, a father and son road trip movie with Paul Reiser and Peter Falk, would have been a hell of a lot better looking if shot on 35mm as it should have been. Faddishness on the producers part (and ignorance on mine) was responsible for wrongly shooting this on DV. Anyway, in spite of how much better it continues to get, video is video and film is film. Different looks, different pros and cons. And why does one form need to replace another? Co-existance is so much more civilized.

“With Final Cut Pro and DV cameras getting better and cheaper, everyone will make their own movie and post it on the web/youtube.”

But with so many professional movies being uploaded to youtube, why watch something you’ve never heard of? My favorite youtube watches are the really early Laurel and Hardy shorts that somebody in, like, Denmark is patiently providing for the five AM’s of my life. Also the loads of early talkie musicals which are mercifully shorn of their ‘book’ scenes (the drama
parts–which are always tough to get through) and reduced to their essentials–the tunes.

“We’ll all download movies and stop going to theaters.”

I don’t want to be flippant about this–but please. The theater is a habit that since its inception has been threatened with extinction–and I’m talking about the so-called “legit” theater, stage. The fact is, though, that communal watching of drama will never disappear entirely. And while I like my own movies to be seen in theaters (and I prefer to see certain movies with others in attendance) I can’t ignore the fact that the audience for the kind of movies that I make (i.e.–NOT TENTPOLES) has consistantly been found on cable. So maybe that’s just where that’s going. Besides: there are plenty of movies that I would be delighted to download. Indeed, my chances of seeing something like the new Costner movie (“Mr. Something”) would improve markedly it were downloadable and I didn’t dread so much going alone to a mostly empty theater to sit through something that sounds iffy but promising.. Anyway this is nothing new. It’s what’s known as the “I’ll see it on HBO” syndrome–only downloading the movie could potentially move the window up.

“Kids will grow up thinking watching movies on I-pods is perfectly normal.”

I grew up thinking watching movies on a black-and-white Zenith television with frequent interruptions for carpet commercials and Cal Worthington and his dog spot was normal. Did it harm me? Probably. But I survive.

“HD DVD will be the industry standard and will further boost the importance of the DVD market.”

Face it, this is the eight-track tape of modern technology. Indeed, the term HD has become as overused as “organic”–and as shady as the likeliehood that the salmon you buy at Whole Foods was truly “wild caught”.

What I find especially tiresome about all this isn’t the arguing, the wondering, the debating. It’s the lethargy, the slowness with which–in the era of the fastest communication abilities imaginiable–the actual change is occuring. So is it the lawyers or the technology that creates the drag?

Question: if World War 2 were to have occured with the technology and lawyers now availble to us available then, would it ever have gotten off the ground?


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