TECHNOLOGY VS STORY – YAWN
You’ve heard this argument, you know the one, that narrative nerds fire at tech heads: it’s not about the camera it’s about the story. I hear this debated endlessly on Twitter – knowing ‘filmmakers’ taking the high ground over those still enjoying that childlike phase of discovering the technology, forgetting in the process that this is exactly why we were all drawn to DSLRs in the first place. We’re all magpies to a certain extent, and while many filmmakers would claim not to care how their film looks as long as it’s a good story, well I just don’t buy that. Film is a visual medium and so much of the storytelling is done with the camera that you’d be an idiot if you weren’t at least somewhat interested in understanding how that story will play on different lenses and how resolution or grain affects the emotional impact of your film. Unless that is you’ve got a blog to promote and being controversial improves your page stats.
The fact is, technology does matter, and so does story, and it takes a lot of talent in both departments to do anything vaguely worth watching. But all of this frustrates me so much because it’s completely ignoring the whole frickin point of film in the first place. More than anything else this is a medium that depends on people. It takes people to make a film, people to experience them, people to give their talent to wrestle words off a page and into a well-worn visual language that resists innovation these days. The effect we hope to induce is an overwhelmingly human one.
Why everyone labours so hard over this debate is beyond me. The great joy of social media, blogging, the DSLR community in general, is that it’s brought together diverse and otherwise disconnected talents together and made collaborations that would not have been possible otherwise. Filmmaking is not a solitary pastime, it’s best done as a group. I’m never going to deny anyone the right to call themselves a filmmaker, but for me, two things define the filmmakers I admire: firstly, their ability to move me, and secondly, their ability to get the job done, marshalling their troops and bringing everyone into line for the execution of their vision. Most filmmakers fail on both counts. And that’s no indictment of filmmakers in general, it’s just the job is really really really bloody hard. A lot of DSLR films I see fail to move me, and yet that’s what you should concentrate on most when you’re starting out. It’s simply not possible to learn the skill of wrangling a team until you can persuade people that your ability to move them is worth people pitching in on.
So, when you hear this seemingly endless needle between tech-heads and narrative nerds, just remember that none of that really means anything on its own. In the hotel industry the call the physical building the ‘hardware’, they call the service and the staff the ‘software’ and I think that view could be taken on filmmaking as well. Your computer’s kind of useless without software to run on it. You might be investing in cameras but think too about investing in relationships with talented people who can help you be better.
Or don’t. Just a thought.