The Being Cultured Myth

What an exciting world we live in where we have access to so many movies. Ugh I can only be that positive for a sentence long- and even that was an effort.

Most movies and books suck, there’s no doubt there, but we do have access to a butt load of them. In making SPIDERS WILL EAT YOUR FACE the documentary, I realized that perhaps I take my literacy in film for granted. The opening of the film is a horror homage, there are some Busby Berkely references, and good old fashion Marx Brothers rip offs. But most importantly, I feared my ecclectic interest in movies may give the wrong impression. There seems to be a trend in all my movies of pulling from opposite genres to prove my point ( In HAMSTERS: THE HISTORY i do a full Dragon Ball Z style fight scene with buff hamsters to talk abojt territorial practices).

When I was about 16 I made a vow to watch all television ever. This later turned into a more mystic vow of a story teller to “Never turn away a story and always find new ones. In addition to the mission to watch all tv.”

What I find concerning is that this vow should appear to others as the statement of a crazy person. I am not concerned I am crazy- I am hence why I’d make any “vow” involving tv; clearly nuts. What is strange is that the public seems to believe this is normal. Let me explain.

The current myth about culture, to my impression, is that to be cultured is to take in as much and different culture as you can. THIS IS THE EXACT OPPOSITE OPINION OF THE ART WORLD.

In art education, there is nothing that says you should take in everything. In fact, I frequently meet people who spend their whole artistic education learning about 1 artist.

I also think despite me having seen a lot more than most people, most of you would be shocked to learn how many films I watch DOZENS OF TIMES. Futurama for example- I have watched both the episodes and audio commentary uncountable times. If I am not with people, I’ll watch a documentary I like for an entire day; playing it over and over again until I go to sleep.

Let’s analyze this in simple math. Animation is an easy way to explain this…actually too easy. Let’s use a live action narative film ( that means fictional film with a conventional plot- meaning the classic radio play story. Essentially all movies you watch are differnet version of The Lone Ranger- a bastardized conversion of morality plays onto the radio. Really.)

So lets take a scene (I am also going to assume your are watching studio films and not independent films). Two people drinking coffee. Well that scene was likely not in the original draft or a version of the dialogue wasn’t the same most likely. Either way it had to be read over at least 20 people before a final script was handed to the actors to be rehersed(minimum 6 hours of reading and work on this scene alone), rehersed (minumim half hour), story board (1 hour minimum with edits) props setup and bought for that scene (minumum 1 hour work before shoot), logistics for the day (1 hour), setting up room ( lets divide this for just the thing we are looking at because set dressing can take days but lets say 1 hour minimum plus at least 20 min on a particular shot), move camera and lights (hour if you’re lucky), they do it in one take, exported, formated edited, taken out of the movie, put back in, sound foley, adr, color corrected, screened, and then finally you watch it.

Someone add the time up I am not gonna…ok fine. A minimum of 14 hours per one shot in a movie. To be so arrogant that you think you can understand the entire movie (again im talking about a maybe 10 second shot) by watching it once is insane.

I actually get really angry at podcasts and blogs that see a normal screening of a movie- not for critics- and think they have the film figured out. I mean were you taking notes? Pause the film to get an understanding of the framing (mise en scene is you wana sound like a jerk)? Were you privy to an interview with anyone who worked on the film? Those are my questions before we even get to the fact that YOU ONLY WATCHED IT ONCE.

To be cultured is to understand the culture. You make tv a boob tube by sitting there and just having it blasted at your head. Special features are a blessing for the movie lover YET when I talk to movie lovers they seem to want to talk about what is new rather than getting an audio commentary track, making of, or watching interviews.

This myth of the many movie person is strange to me. Especially to someone unitiated in filmmaking. If you love a movie and you do not know how every shot was done, I argue you don’t really love it. You just want to tell people you love it.

Mike Fallek
Big Weasel Lil Weasel

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