Sunday, September 11, 2005

And now, just to have something to post here, is the first entry from the "media journal" I had to keep for my Media Studies class at the Art Institute. Each week we were supposed to make a journal entry about that week's class subject. I fully deny that I banged all these out the night before we were supposed to turn them in.

Week 1 - 2002.10.10
First day of the three-in-one marathon class--Film Screening, followed by MS-Film, then Visual Storytelling, adding up to seven hours of movie-geek-immersion education. And that's always a good thing.
It seems to be a lively bunch, too--there are only three gaming students, as opposed to about twenty DFPs, but those three gaming students have plenty to say. During the discussion period, it was hard to get a word in edgewise.
As for the discussion topic, we started on "what is/are media?" and somehow drifted to "what constitutes selling out?" The consensus on the first seems to be that media is, loosely defined, communication. Or, more accurately, the means by which communication takes place. Could be a handwritten note scrawled on the back of a napkin, could be a fancy digital motion picture with THX sound, the point is, it's however the message is disseminated.
Which gives the aspiring Media Master a lot of leeway.
The second question, concerning selling out, is a bit more tricky. My take has always been that 1) even a brilliant artist has to eat, and 2) as long as you maintain your integrity, cashing in is not the same as selling out. But then again, everybody has a different level of integrity, so who draws the line? Take Britney Spears (please, rimshot). Her "music" is the blandest, most insipid bubblegum imaginable. But then again, that "music" is basically another accessory, along with videos, movies, clothes, etc, to the lifestyle she is selling. So how can she be compromising her musical integrity when she never claimed to have any?
I recently read an anecdote involving Kevin Smith (I know you're not a fan of the guy, but I am, so bear with me). When he pitched his third movie, Chasing Amy to Miramax, they were going to budget it at two to three million, but they wanted to cast Drew Barrymore, Jon Stewart, and David Schwimmer. Smith had already planned to cast it with his friends Joey Lauren Adams, Ben Affleck, and Jason Lee, all unknowns compared to who Miramax wanted. So Smith offered to make the movie for about 250 thousand, a tenth of what Miramax was offering, to be able to make it with his friends. And the result? For significantly less risk, Smith got to make the movie more or less exactly how he wanted, he got back some of the goodwill that he lost with the less-than-successful Mallrats, and he made stars out of Affleck and Lee.
I don't know if I'd go so far as to say that accepting the higher budget and casting Barrymore et al would be selling-out, but the story is a good example of what happens when you leave the creative decisions in the hands of the creative people.

Copyright 2004 Rich Bowen

Who isn't a fan of Kevin? That's just wrong.
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