Friday, November 03, 2006

The test of time

John said, "I'm glad you had fun the other night hanging out with this younger generation of filmmakers. But are they changing the world? When was the last time a young filmmaker changed the culture? Not in awhile." So the debate begins, "Myspace, videogames, cable." Where will the new narratives come from? How will they exist? Lately John is obsessed by how even the lesser films we were involved with, way outgrossed many of the current indie darlings. Not including the mega grossing indie darlings like Little Miss Sunshine, or the Weinstein Company crew. The upside is way larger, the downside miniscule.

More than the actual details of the conversation is the skew. I get interested in the people around me. John looks through the prism of history. What will stand the test of time? They're very different perspectives.

First time someone helped me understand this difference was via a handwriting reading by Ann Mahony. We met one midnight outside a radio station in SF on John's booktour. We were coming out. She was going in. We talked for five minutes, and quickly exchanged books - John and I scribbling a few words in our copy for her. A year later she mailed a cassette with surprising insight and assessment.

"John likes to give information to people," she said. "Janet actually likes people."


Joe Swanberg said...

I would have to say that a young filmmaker changes the culture almost every month. Every few weeks there is a new video that goes online that is viewed by millions of people. It is copied, talked about, spread around, and becomes a cultural reference point. A few weeks later, something else comes along that takes its place. Nobody makes any money from it, there are no box office receipts to prove the effect it had, but nobody can forget that they saw it and were changed by it.

The idea of staying power isn't an issue anymore. Everything moves too fast. You either stay plugged in, and connected to the new culture, or you choose to be outside of it.

grainyms said...

Well, this quote I just came across isn't the answer. It doesn't address much of what we're talking about but it still adds an interesting element for further discussion:

"...centuries from now our great-great-great-grandchildren will look back at us with amazement at how we could allow such a precious achievement of human culture as the telling of a story to be shattered into smithereens by commercials, the same amazement we feel today when we look at our ancestors for whom slavery, capital punishment, burning of witches, and the inquisition were acceptable everyday events." -- Werner Herzog

Joe Swanberg said...

One thing that the Herzog quote makes me realize is how idealistic and pure Internet culture is. There is a whole movement toward open source information and the free sharing of everything.

Most of the major cultural events that happen online are relatively anonymous and given away for free. There's something beautiful about that. Nobody's charging ticket prices to come see what everyone's talking about.