15 December 2009

Cult Classics By Committee


Paramount's decision to launch a production wing dedicated to micro-budget films in light of the stratospheric success of Paranormal Activity has been (and is) the subject of much debate and discussion.  Here's my two cents.


The euphemisms "came out of nowhere," "a surprise hit," etc. which are now indelibly linked to Paranormal Activity's success are more than empty phrases.  It really did come out of nowhere, and was made for next to nothing.  It is a testament to the creativity of the filmmakers that the film succeeded as well as it did. 

Paranormal Activity and a slew of other no-budget/micro-budget features didn't become hits because they were designed to be hits.  They became hits because of three key elements: Necessity. Creativity.  Story. 

It was necessary for PA to be made for such little money.  There was none!  Creativity comes from solving problems creatively - how does one make lemonade out of potatoes?  And, at the end of the day - it was a damn good story and entertaining ride.

The point is that PA (I reference it frequently because it's the catalyst for this change) and its ilk succeed because they are not designed by committee.  It's a combination of right place, right time, creativity, and a good product.

When an product (film, business, service etc.) that should be run as a scrappy underdog is run by a huge entity or people with business degrees and their eyes forever on the bottom line pretending to be the scrappy underdog, it is destined for failure.  Ingenuity and creativity cannot be faked.

The age of bland corporate facades and marketing spiels is at an end.  Anything less than genuine is shoved aside as spam.  Twitter, Facebook, etc. brings the artist and audience close together.  The audience roots for the filmmaker, one that they have gotten to know - not a film made by a studio pretending to be genuine.

It's only when one stops searching that they find what they're looking for.  

If I'm wrong, I'll eat my words.  Maybe this is a good thing, but for the reasons I've mentioned above, I'm leery.

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