It’s Only a Job

I took some time today to attend of the always informative Producers Guild sessions. It was hosted by Bexel, which was very kind of them, and their tech sponsors showed off some…well, not new, but at least current gear.

What really interested me were two discussions that carried a common theme.

The first was that with HD, 2K, 4k, even 8K coming soon, the technological advances continue to move fast. Moore’s law doesn’t only apply to consumer computer tech, but then this has been apparent since first producing with Sony’s VX1000 PAL for our groundbreaking little short “Sweet” only 6 years ago. The progression itself isn’t all that terrifying, but there is definitely a lot of people in the business who are really intimidated by the rapidity of the progress. There’s not a lot about filmmaking that changed from the mid-1900’s all the way through to 2000ish… so there’s a large number of people who still have a hard time adapting.

Then there’s the second part of the conversations where those adapting, or making the appearance of adapting, are doing so only when it maintains the superiority of their knowledge. They do so by putting largely artificial limits on what “they’ll allow” their teams to shoot with, or the tools they’ll “allow” their creatives to use. While this conversation would, at first glance, appear to be about making sure that “quality is maintained;” in reality it’s about making sure the jobs we do remain complex and costly enough that we can all keep our jobs.

Once again, we seem to forget that filmmaking as an art form is a form whose purpose is to serve a story.

How many crappy stories have we all seen that “look good,” but we forget them at our earliest possible moment… or we lament the time we wasted watching garbage entertainment.

The tech must serve the story. Period.

And if you have a story you want to tell, you now have the tools to go tell it. Figure out where your technological boundaries are and work within them to craft the best story you can. If you need to expand your tech to help out, the resources are all out there, and Hollywood no longer has a corner on the knowledge market.

Therein lies the greatest conundrum of this problem. Properly exposed, properly cut and color-graded film & television are all easily quantifiable and objective ways of assessing whether or not something is “good.”

Whether or not a story is good, is far more subjective. Stories that resonate aren’t necessarily the mass-media phenomenon we always thought they were. Maybe your story will only resonate with a couple of hundred viewers, a million, or the blockbusters of 20 or 30 million folks (usually at that scale, it’s the marketing that resonated with people, not necessarily the show itself), but story well-told all has it’s place, and it is a matter of taste for many people.

At the end of the day, producing well, technically, is something producers we all have to use in our business to keep our jobs. Producing well creatively is much more of a challenge for all of us and much harder to quantify.

But either way, it’s still only a job. And we can always adapt and grow into new places in our lives and careers in whichever manner we chose.

Which will lead nicely into my next post in a couple more weeks about the next big project in my own life as I prepare to leave Endemol Digital Studios in a few short weeks.