27 April 2010

Marvel & The Modern Filmmaker

by Tyler Weaver.  Follow me on Twitter.

You don't need me to tell you things are tough for a filmmaker today.  Though everyone's talking, no one seems to have "the answer" for how to move forward (nor do I). It's the Wild West out there, and like it or not, we're all in it together, both as colleagues and as competitors.

The phrase "never before seen in the film industry" is bandied about endlessly regarding the current state of affairs.  Film is to the teens as music was to the noughties.  And yeah, it's an uncertain time - though a quick look at history might help - just not film history.

It's called Marvel Comics in the 1960s.  The Fantastic Four. The Amazing Spider-Man. The Avengers. Iron Man. Daredevil. Doctor Strange.

Marvel EIC Stan Lee sought to distinguish his company from the "Distinguished Competition" (DC Comics, home of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, etc. through a focus on audience engagement and the careful crafting a familial attitude.  Readers were given glimpses - mostly comedic - into the inner workings of Marvel; the writing, the artists, the characters in such staples of Marvel Comics as the "Bullpen Bulletins," home of his "Stan's Soapbox" column.

In a way, the Marvel guys -  particularly Stan Lee - were the first DIWO filmmakers - a masterful mix of creative and marketeer, focusing on creating character-driven comic books (in contrast to DC's then plot-driven tales) that brought their product into the hearts and minds of their target audience.

This whole comparison came to me recently, after watching the Kevin Smith-Stan Lee interview documentary, Stan Lee's Mutants, Monsters, and Marvels - with Lee making another apt statement: "I didn't make these stories for kids - I made 'em for me."

All of that brings home the lesson -Don't pander.  Stay true to your vision, target your audience, and engage.  It's been around for years - just not in the film medium.

Until now.

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.


eyamie said...

It's also no coincidence that TV's resurgence has been due to its character-driven content.

Great post, Tyler!

Tyler Weaver said...

Thanks for reading!

I said something similar in an article on TV reviewing - pick a genre, and fill it with watchable (or readable) characters that you want to let into your life. Then figure out how to get it out there, and you're golden.

Easier said than done, but the equation is pretty simple.

Thanks again!

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