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December 01, 2009


If you ask an audience to watch your film the least you can do is entertain them, or at least pay them a bit of respect. What you have described sounds very depressing indeed. I think you've just reminded us that one of the cardinal rules of filmmaking is to remember your audience and to cater to them, not to expect them to sit there and placidly admire your brilliance.

Thanks Karen - I wish you would have been there to see some of the films!

Just go this email from a writer I know...

Just had to say your last blog entry was really funny. Was watching a bit of that TV show, 'School Of Saatchi' the other day - like X Factor for modern artists. One girl got through for hanging a referee's whistle off a toilet handle. That was it! Tracy Emin was going on about how it had 'sexual conitations'. It actually made me proper angry. The worst thing about these 'artists', film or otherwise, is that if you say it's crap, they just dismiss your opinion as an ignoramus. For me it's a self perpetuating little clique of pretentiousness for people with no talent who want to pretend they have vast inner depth - The type of people who think David Lynch is too commercial. A bunch of souless 'high society' rich people give their support in the hope that some personallity will rub off on them and, hey presto, you have Damien Hirst and Banksy. Anyway, very funny. The 7 Symptoms is like something I could imagine Adam and Joe doing as a guide to making an art house film.

This blog entry articulates a problem with films so well. Chris, you write in a very balanced, considered way.

You write "They were too busy making a point, a point that all too often was lost in their over self indulgence." But I think Symptom One hits the nail on the head - too many "Art Films" (shorts or features)are pointless.

I'm not adverse to film as art. I don't have an automatic aversion to work which is abstract or experimental. What I do object to is self indulgent "celluloid masturbation" (can I say that?). Certain filmmakers, audiences and critics are all too keen to praise the Emperor's new clothes, than risk objecting to his nudity.

Which is easier: 1) cut together a series of unconnected (perhaps pretty)shots, perhaps linger on them, maybe have a confusing voice over, chuck in a provocative image or two. 2) craft a considered work where the images and sounds have some sense of form and coherence, the work connects with the audience and resonates with them, managing to elicit a variety of satisfying emotional responses?

FROM CHRIS - Thanks Jude, I agree with all your points. Been getting emails all day about it! Thanks for taking the time to comment.

Well, I'm ther lone voice of disagreement I'm afraid. Firstly, if you want people walking out of shorts try Raindance. Nothing wrong with their programmes, but everytime I've been at a shorts programme people have left after each short, leaving the filmmakers and a couple of people left for the last one (and the audience was pretty much just the filmmakers to begin with). Whereas Bilbao, as you said, had large audiences, so the fact 75% of a large audience stayed would, I'd suggest, mean they were doing something right.

I've been to festivals all over Europe, and yes, they do tend to be more serious than US festivals, but that's no bad thing. I prefer that kind of film, you don't. I really don't see why you can't just let them have their choices without trying to pick holes in what they do or find fault with the way they run it. I've seen your film, it was OK in my opinion, not really my kind of thing, but I'd never get you to try and change it, it's what you do. So why have a go at Bilbao? It's just what other people like, and what a dull place the world would be if we only had one thing to choose from. (and I'm just a filmmaker in the UK, nothing to do with Bilbao or their festival)

Hi Chris

I guess there is a place for these kinds of film to express themselves and they wouldnt be there if they didnt want to be. the one problem I have is when art filmmakers look down on anything that people want to watch. Or worse, judge you or hold you back because your not one of them while they enjoy getting grants help etc based on the fact its allegedly art. I really hate it when the judges start to show how clever they are by making judgements that show they have insight. It then becomes about them and not the efforts by a film maker who has spent endless months making a masterpiece only to be thrown out for being to commercial to mainstream or to normal. Someone smart can make a film that plays on this. Maybe a hidden point like a crossword puzzle may tempt the judge to spot and show the world how clever he /she is by awarding it first prize. I love it when a judge influences other judges to do the same as they're doing..

Prizes shoulf go to judges who could be awarded a clever clogs award by the audience. Maybe a reason to stay and watch after all.

I can see a film in this!


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    About Chris

    I am just like you. Passionate. Crazy mad. For movies that is. Can’t get enough. Watching movies. Making movies. Talking about movies. Drives my girlfriend Lucia nuts! So yep. Passionate, crazy and mad. And yes, I am a little schizo too. Thing is, I love making films as much as I do teaching film making. Hence, Make Film, Teach Film. I have spent my life making films and sharing what I have learned with those who, like me, have been infected with the 'film virus'... I've made three feature films, action thriller ‘The Runner’, serial killer thriller ‘White Angel’ and paranormal horror ‘Urban Ghost Story’. I also co-created and authored The Guerilla Film Makers Handbook series, and currently there are six editions! Most recently, I made the multi-award winning and Oscars shortlisted ‘Gone Fishing’. I run film making workshops and my offices are at Ealing Film Studios where I am currently plotting my next big adventure…

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    CONTACT - Living Spirit Pictures, Ealing Film Studios,
    Ealing Green, London, W5 5EP,  UK
    tel / fax +44 208 758 8544
    [email protected]


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