Jon Kilik, who has been producing films big and small from New York for as long as I can remember, gave Sunday’s keynote address to open the IFP Market. He makes some compelling points about the viability of film, countering warning cries from the likes of Steven Soderbergh, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas. I’ve trimmed it a bit, but here’s the speech by Kilik, who produced the Bennett Miller-directed Foxcatcher which bows December 20, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire which opens November 22, and the Spike Lee-directed Mike Tyson one-man show The Undisputed Truth, which airs on HBO next month.
“I live near the Film Forum and last Saturday I went to see Jean Luc Godard’s “Contempt”, on it’s 50th anniversary. In the film, Fritz Lang plays the director of a commercial treatment of “The Odyssey”. His line near the end of the film sums up the separate but related realities of both love and filmmaking. He speaks his final 3 words, “ONE MUST SUFFER.”
A couple of weeks ago I was on a flight from Los Angeles to New York reading recent speeches and statements by some of our greatest American Filmmakers. This time, unfortunately, their words sent out more panic than inspiration. Steven Soderbergh, in his “State of Cinema” address at the San Francisco Film Festival claimed that “Cinema is under assault by the Studios, with the full support of the audience. The reasons for this are more economic than philosophical but when you add an ample amount of fear and a lack of vision and a lack of leadership you’ve got a trajectory that’s pretty difficult to reverse.”
In a recent talk at USC, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg predicted that the film industry is on track to have a “massive implosion” because there just isn’t enough time in the day for people to support all the films released in theaters. Lucas complained that it’s getting so bad it is even hard for him to get a film in a theater and that this should make producers of films very nervous.
According to these great titans, CINEMA is in danger of disappearing from the theaters and MOVIES are to be relegated to a lurid sensational experience akin to a theme park ride or Las Vegas Dinner Theater.
Many people have predicted the end of the film business. Or at least a cataclysmic shake up that destroys all modestly budgeted films of quality leaving us with only 4D motion control Blockbusters. These End-of-Days predictions have come before in our industry. The advent of Color was supposed to eventually doom Black and White – in which case we would have never had “Dr. Strangelove”, “Manhattan”, “Raging Bull”, or “Schindler’s List”. Or “She’s Gotta Have It”, “Stranger Than Paradise”, or “Pi” – giving birth to Spike Lee, Jim Jarmusch and Darren Aronofsky. Television was supposed to doom the theatrical experience – why would anyone want to go out to a movie when they can get it at home. Cable TV and DVD’s were supposed to do the same thing. Video on Demand and companies like Netflix were supposed to do it again.
So my advice to us, all of us, from film students to Spielberg, Lucas and Soderbergh, all of us who make human movies that we care about, my advice is to ignore the prophecies, DON’T RETIRE, and keep on making films and showing films by any means available. Build and they will come.