Sometimes I feel like I’m one of the only people in Hollywood who doesn’t care about money.
Let me rephrase that. It’s not that I don’t care about money; I have no choice but to care about money. Apparently you need it for everything. But when I look at what money does to people, it makes me think about whether or not I’ll ever be able to pursue it the way most people do. I recently came across a quote by Dorothy Parker that said, “If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to.” I know I’m opening up kind of a can of worms here, but what I want to talk about specifically is what money does to creative fields. What money has done to the film industry. And it’s so ironic, because people will tell you that money is what it’s always been about, right? But at what point did film shift from one of the greater art forms to a bottomless pit in which millions of dollars constantly (and often mindlessly) circulate?
I feel like within the first 5 minutes of a movie, I can tell the difference between a film that was made with the primary focus of making it’s filmmakers wealthy and/or famous versus a film that exhibits the desire to make something thought-provoking, creative, artistic, worth watching. Now, the thing that I LOVE about this sort of project is that, every once in a while, a film will get the best of both worlds. The quality of the film will be rewarded with heavy audience interest, and in turn, a sizeable profit for the artists. Even more satisfying is when a movie of this sort blows another exorbitantly expensive fifth sequel to a franchise out of the water.
A very current example: the soundtrack to the film Drive is NUMBER ONE on iTunes right now. If you’ve seen the film, you know that the filmmakers did not for one second ever plan on that happening, did not fathom it in the slightest. The music is all very under-the radar stuff (although, little known fact: Cliff Martinez, the film¹s composer, was once the drummer for The Red Hot Chili Peppers)
But the music in that film is greater than the music of most films I see these days because it was incredibly consistent with the message of the film itself. It’s easy to compile a bunch of songs by big-name artists that sound cool if you have the money. It isn’t easy to create a soundtrack for a film that matches the action of the film almost perfectly (both visually and sound-wise) and that aids in telling the story so subliminally. A truly narrative soundtrack is hard to come by, and Drive accomplished this in an original and most fascinating way.
The attention to detail was exquisite, and the audience noticed. They’ll buy a soundtrack like this, even though all I ever hear is “No one buys soundtracks anymore,” “There’s no money in soundtrack albums,” especially when they include artists no one knows/cares about (yet). But if a film and its soundtrack are this type of quality, and they make it into the right hands, they will find support.
Tying in to what Chace was talking about in her article, what this does for me is gives me hope. Hope that if I pursue projects in this industry with the right mindset, I could end up with the best of both worlds, quality art that actually turns a profit because it’s just that: quality. And quality should always be rewarded. That hope is what will keep me in this industry, be it ever so fickle/insane/unstable/exciting/fun/beautiful.