An Essay By Tom Beaver
One of too many old sayings goes something like this, “When the student is ready- the teacher will appear.” In terms of technology and filmmaking, this concept flip-flops into a righteous location upside the mass sub-conscious head. It is invariably a dare and a sharp blow to the skull. There is a red spot on every filmmaker’s face. This aggressive calling is the cosmic reverb (an assault on the flesh) of technology and its merciless advancements begging to aid and abet the fledgling filmmakers of the planet.
If one wants to make a film in this 2010 year of our Lord- one must simply have the gumption to “bake the goddamn cake.” Rise to the occasion. Gather the troops, build the army, wage war, read the headlines the day after…
Everything has changed. The way people think, act, react, dream, pro-create and interpret the world has forever been altered by technology. The efforts one might muster to pontificate on the duality of this age are immediately exonerated by the concise need for action. You cannot revolt against an immovable rock without seeming to be a fool. Technology is here to stay. And in the age of “Information Distribution”, the phrase “Actions speak louder than words.” takes on a whole new philosophical and moral meaning.
Between 1875 and 1890 the first motion pictures were being toyed with. Cinema is the youngest art form. It has been finding its way into the cultures of the world for merely 130 some odd years. That’s a faucet droplet into the Nile and it illustrates the excitement of an art form that has a power usurped solely by music.
The last 20 years have seen many exhausted avenues fill up with bloated bureaucracy and ill-examined box office receipts. The “Hollywood” film is no longer cutting it. The interest in this type of mainstream schlock (the sequel, the benign romantic comedy, the formulaic drama, the regurgitation of old scenarios, etc.) has waned in direct alignment with the idea of Capitalism itself (a concept that is literally gasping for air on its death bed).
The films I have made with my Independent Producing partner, Grant Stoner (THE NERVOUS SYSTEM, Elliott Sellers’ THREE DAYS OF SOUND, THE JUKEBOX MAN’S SON and AMERICAN NOCTURNAL) were made in the spirit of immediacy and inspiration. They were made as love letters to Independent storytelling. My desire to have artistic control over my projects and Grant’s passion for production value, creative development, marketing, film festival navigation and seeking distribution possibilities- couple to evoke and solicit varied (but immediate) responses. We make movies because we love movies and we have something to say. We make movies because we have hope for the future. We make movies because we are excited by life.
Our first short, THE NERVOUS SYSTEM (2009) concerned a female insomniac suffering from a slight mental breakdown. Our second short, AMERICAN NOCTURNAL (2010) was the story of a newly single father helping his young daughter with a report on an ex-president (Jimmy Carter). And the film THREE DAYS OF SOUND (2010) was written and directed by Elliott Sellers. I acted in this piece and Grant produced.
Grant and I have other projects we will execute in the near future. My screenplay, DESERT STORY is about a young female runaway who has a brief affair with a spiritually disillusioned man at a desert motel. This is our most ambitious project to date and would require significant funding as compared to our two short films.
As the future draws nearer and we approach the New Year, the filmmaking community may consider the banality of current trends in commercial cinema. I’m very certain that I am not alone in sensing the palpable exhaustion and sprinkled sighs of an audience when the trailers roll at the local multi-plex. There is a tidal wave on the horizon and it does not carry corporate monoliths lambasting intimate stories and shrugging off original scripts in favor of so-called “sure things.” You cannot create valid films by grinding them through test screenings. This is not a gamble (all true creativity is a gamble)- this is cloning (turn over a buck in favor of reaching the heart with artistry).
The approaching monsoon is alive with new and individual stories of amazing intimacy, precision, creativity and energy. They are films from the heart. The future is bleeding and ripe for cinema that can be created by anyone with the courage to pick up a camera and examine this life with honesty.