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The story below was originally published on Theo’s Roundtable, for which I am contributing writer.
Last week, my wife and I watched the documentary Side by Side starring, well, most every popular or famous Hollywood director or producer who has dealt with digital cinema at some point over the past 30 years. Oh, and Keanu Reeves is in it too—a lot. Anyway, it was a fascinating film—more so for my wife as she tends to be in the dark about such topics despite also working in the film industry. At the end of it, I believe she said something to the effect of so is this kind of what you keep going on about with your blog? Yes, yes—it is. Nice to see that Keanu Reeves could explain in 90 minutes what I’ve failed to do in the seven years we’ve been together, my wife and I. If nothing else, it demonstrates the power of cinema and/or video content as a tool for more than mere entertainment. Not that the film wasn’t entertaining.
One of the interviewees was a gentleman by the name of Lorenzo di Bonaventura, who is most known for his work as one of the many producers on the hugely successful Transformers franchise. Anyway, Mr. Bonaventura says in the documentary that he isn’t a fan of the digital revolution, not because digital is somehow inferior to film but because it has given everyone the power to create. He then goes on to say that with digital there are no more tastemakers. What I took Mr. Bonaventura’s statement to mean was this: Because digital technology is so widely available nowadays, one doesn’t require a Mr. Bonaventura to aid them or even allow them to make their dream a reality. They can just do it.
As a filmmaker, Mr. Bonaventura’s statements throughout the film really stuck in my craw, for rather than reward creativity and expression and encourage others to experiment in the medium we simply call film, he seeks to suggest that it is a medium only for a select few. A select few like him.
I laughed when he referred to people like himself as tastemakers. Really? Really Mr. Transformers producer—you’re the last word on what is and isn’t in good taste? I’m half joking, of course, as I actually enjoy the Transformers franchise—or I should say my inner six year old does—but I’d hardly classify those movies as the peak of cinematic sophistication. Technologically impressive? Sure. But in terms of engagement through timeless storytelling? Go pound sand. Moreover, it was Mr. Bonaventura’s almost smug nature about proclaiming himself and others tastemakers that really irked me, for as an indie filmmaker, I’ve come up against my fair share of Bonaventuras. Hollywood is full of ‘em. So is specialty A/V, for that matter.
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