POV - Inferior technology

By , posted 4 December 2006

I can easily understand why most of the libidinal guys would inarguably prefer a technically sound Pamela Anderson to a Miss Plain Jane next door with a 31-32-33 figure. But most of you work it out with Miss Plain Jane. It's the same with technology.

We all strive for the best, the biggest, the brightest and the loudest things in life. But we utilize technology according to our budget, availability and production techniques. Any filmmaker worldwide loves to work on 35mm. One solid reason behind this is distribution or in other words, a wider-bigger-larger target audience. And of course this is consequently related to more profits. Other than the aesthetic & technical finesse 35mm photography offers, working on it also confers a status symbol in the filmmaking circle. Less privileged filmmakers who struggle with digital or inferior technology are considered second class. This is the general psychology.

But does it meant that inferior technology should be discriminated, shunned like dead meat?
I would like to asses the different wise ways small, cheaper technology can be put to use.
In the Stone Age era before digital technology arrived, an upcoming filmmaker has to wait for ages to make her first short or feature. This is because everyone needs a good resume to prove herself to any prospective investor or the craft of filmmaking. Even the daughter of Bill Gates should get acquainted with the craft or the business before she could toy around with all the billions she commands. There are also a number of talented or experienced individuals who couldn't find a frugal producer. The arrival of digital technology has in fact changed all the rules. This days, a novice filmmaker with a budget as less as a few dollars can fool around with a DV handycam and make any short of films she wants to make. This provides a good training ground to hone her craft. I heard Manoj Night Shyamalan made a few hundred short home movies in his handycam before he became rich and famous with THE SIXTH SENSE. Steven Spielberg grew up with his 8mm camera.

Secondly, digital or even Hi-8 gives a chance to prove yourself in the market that would eventually draw in producers. These days every city in the world hosts a digital film festival on an average. A good work is a good work regardless of technology. A good digital film is enough to convince any prospective investor or distributor to realize your celluloid dream. More importantly, for those film fanatics it is better to make a Hi-8 or a digital film than to wait for ages to make a film on 35mm. It's smarter to make hay with your Plain Jane than to wait to shine with Pamela. And who has seen tomorrow anyway?

Thirdly, inferior technologies substitutes as the oxygen of the regional filmmaking industry. In the entertainment industry worldwide, the invincible clout of multi-million budget production techniques and excessive obsessive marketing strategies of the conglomerates has maliciously grabbed the neck of the regional filmmakers. Big Daddy Hollywood leads the hound followed by the Chinese and Bollywood from India. They have killed the market share enjoyed by the small ethnic language films to a great extent. The low investment blessed by the inferior technology helps them to survive.

Based on my experience in watching and studying films, I have always believed 'content is king'. And most of the production techniques and strategies are designed base on the screenplay. There are lots of examples to illustrate that inferior technology lends authenticity to a particular content. 'The Blair Witch Project' looks authentic, convincing enough because of the use of Hi-8. 'Dancers in the Dark' looks fine on the small canvas. I strongly believe and any master filmmaker would agree with me that we use technology to enhance our story telling style; because the real mission behind every film is telling stories in convincing ways.
A lot of films flop when it's the other way round.

In the end, I would like to affirm this gospel that it's better-bigger-brighter-louder-smarter to be a super digital or even Hi-8 filmmaker than to be a flop 35mm filmmaker.

*the writer is a filmmaker / writer based in New Delhi, India. You can share your feedback at cinema.india@hotmail.com

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