22 April 2010

I'm a Filmmaker with Karate Chop Action - Redux

by Tyler Weaver.  Follow me on Twitter.

(This article originally appeared on Maria Lokken's website on February 8th, 2010. )

I hate remakes.

Well, OK.  That’s not a hundred percent true.  I love some of them – Huston’s MALTESE FALCON, Carpenter’s THE THING, Scorsese’s CAPE FEAR, Cronenberg’s THE FLY, and Hitchcock’s remake of his own THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH (of which Hitch said, “the original was the work of a gifted amateur; the remake the work of a professional”).

All that said, I’m doing a remake of one of my own works here.  No, not a film. I’m not going to remake THE FOURTEEN MINUTE GAP (though I don’t deny wanting to tinker with it again).  I’m going to remake – revisit – an article I wrote for my MULTI-HYPHENATE blog, waaaay back in the day when it was a Tyler-exclusive site (OK, September 2009).

When Maria and I discussed me writing another article for this wonderful site, I brought up the idea that she was more than welcome to take any article I had written and republish it on her site.  I put forth the article, I’M A FILMMAKER WITH KARATE CHOP ACTION, which I figured would be a good one, extolling my belief that the filmmaker is the product – and the films they create are parts of that product.

Looking back on the article, I realized I wanted to change some things, and alter a few ideas according to my development in the past six months.  And here we are…

For those who follow me on my Twitter adventures (how I met Maria, and how 95% of the contributors to the new Multi-Hyphenate came about), or on my Facebook pages, or on any litany of social networking accounts, a question may be posed:

“You’re a filmmaker, right?  Aren’t you supposed to make flicks?  It seems like all you do is run your mouth about hating remakes, cursing Fox programming decisions, sickeningly talking about your dog like she’s the greatest thing in existence, and/or promoting other peoples’ movies.”

Well… yeah.  But.

Social networking, blogging -  the internet in general – have all torn down the wall between the consumer of the product I create (movies) and the creator of the product (moi).  Why on earth would I want to keep them at arm’s length?  Why would I want to hide from that?  I enjoy conversing with them, and I enjoy letting them see a more complete picture of the brand that is me.

And that’s the idea.  The filmmaker is a BRAND.  Like Apple.  Like Microsoft. Google.  Gerber. Hershey’s. Jack Daniels. Johnnie Walker. GAP.  The films we make are the PRODUCT.  People buy the product and in doing so, remain faithful to the brand – if they like the product.

Alfred Hitchcock was (and is) not only a master filmmaker, but a brand.  When you watch a Hitchcock picture, you know you are watching a Hitchcock picture.  And this was very much by design – Hitch was a master filmmaker, AND a master marketeer.  Hitchcock was the Apple of filmmakers.  Without the floors in his stores flown in from his own mountain.

In today’s ADD-fueled, hyper-active lack of attention, anything you want in a single click world, a year or two between movies is a long time to let your brand fade into obscurity – no matter how good the product is.  And especially if you’re a filmmaker in the DIY world, where technology has given anyone – professional or schmuck – far easier access to content creation than before – “here today, gone tomorrow” is a very, very real phenomenon.

We’re in an age where films come and go at a breakneck pace.  Nearly everything is available at the click of a button – through legal or illegal means.  It is no longer enough to focus on one film, but a body of work that is built throughout your entire career.  And I don’t consider my films to be the end-all-be-all of my body of work.

Everything from the corporate interview spots to the non-profit fundraising videos, to the historical documentaries, commercials, feature-length films, short films, blog posts, television reviews, articles, photographs, random doodles, music videos, and music I write are all part of the brand I’m creating for myself.  I am a filmmaker, yes.  But I’m a human being first, with broad interests, fascinations, and peculiarities that I like to share with people.

As filmmakers – content creators – we are storytellers, yes,  but our greatest story is the real-life tale of our creative journey through the treacherous waters of our career; our successes, our failures.  The story of the filmmaker, of the visual artist, of the creative – is the script I could never sit down and write.

We are the protagonists in our own script.  The films (or books, or music, or quilts) we make are the products, and the success or failure of those products are the turning points in the script of our careers.
It’s the audience that helps write it, by fueling our successes, by staying with us through our failures (if they choose to).  Without the audience, the script of our career is never fully written.  Without their interest, our script is relegated to file 13.

It’s of paramount import that we content creators not only join in on tearing down the walls between content and creator, but to smash through with our own sledgehammer.  It’s only by doing this – by expanding our brand, and continually letting our audience into our creative world – that we will succeed.

They say (and I say) that a film script is written three times.  When it’s written, when it’s directed, and when it’s edited.  The script of our careers is continually re-written; it’s now become a live document, written by our audience the world over.

The movie is no longer just on the big screen.  It’s in the lives we lead and the image we project to our loyal fans and followers – who are no longer nameless, faceless box office receipts, but rather real people living their own script.

Our brand must be part of their lives, we must become the character in the script of our careers that they root for.  It’s by doing so that the products we create will be defined as success or failure – positive or negative turning points.

Give the audience a protagonist to root for, and they’ll want more.

Tyler Weaver is a filmmaker, writer, contributor to the pulptone.com website, and is the founder and EIC of Multi-Hyphenate... which you're reading right now.  He's currently making new things and yaks about that and more on Twitter under the creative guise of @tylerweaver.


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