Life in Hollywood, below-the-line

Life in Hollywood, below-the-line
Work gloves at the end of the 2006/2007 television season (photo by Richard Blair)

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Just for the Hell of It -- Week Four

Apples and Oranges

These props from the kitchen set of my little cable sit-com look like they came fresh from the farmer's market, but -- like everything else in Hollywood -- they're fake.

The quote of the week, from producer/director Ed Zwick, on learning:

"It's really only in the humiliation and abject despair of making horrible mistakes that you learn."  

He's right.  There's an apples-and-oranges difference between the kid-gloves comfort of book-learning in school -- theory -- and the bruising, punch-in-the-face ordeal of actual learning, otherwise known as "reality." The former offers an intellectual framework to add depth and context to one's understanding of a subject, but the latter -- real-world learning --  provides a whole new dimension to the process. Making mistakes isn't much fun, but anybody who doesn't make mistakes just isn't trying hard enough. 

The lessons learned from those mistakes will not be forgotten, and just might allow you to make a living in this town.

Then we have this, from a recent LA Times interview with Matt Weiner, writer and show runner of "Mad Men," discussing his new film "Are You There," and the current popularity of TV over movies among so many observers of the medium.

"For Weiner, the distinctions and divisions between television and film that outsiders might get hung up on stem from engines more economic than creative. 'I have a less artistic view of that whole shift, when I hear about TV being the new whatever it is,' he said. 'I'm here to tell stories: I don't even think about it."

"That's all happening in a world of hype that's unrelated to anything.  It really is. There was an economic boom in TV is what happened. These small channels that were in a lot of homes but couldn't get any attention could raise a lot of revenue with shows that were very specific. At the same time, in a parallel universe, the movie business has gone so broadly international that it feels like silent film."

That's an interesting perspective, particularly the second paragraph. While a few cable networks specialize in dense, complex, edgy dramas that attract a small and very loyal viewership -- shows that would horrify much of the mainstream television audience -- Hollywood's movie machine now favors massive, vacuous comic book epics big on action and violence, but offering very little else. Consciously designed to appeal to the widest possible domestic and international audience, these tent-pole blockbusters really do have much in common with the silent era, when Charlie Chaplin was probably the most recognized face on the planet. 

There's one big difference, though. As products of their time, silent movies are considered quant relics by modern audiences, and thus ignored, but the best of them are infinitely better films than crap like the "Transformers" series.

Finally (and apropos of nothing in particular*), another short, amusing meditation from Rob Long -- more-or-less his version of a name is a name is a name.  In retrospect, I probably should have included the link in this postbut that horse left the barn a long time ago.

That's all for this week.

* In other words, just for the hell of it...

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