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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Perseverance key to future of film

    Zachary Vito
    Zachary Vito/ Arizona Daily Wildcat Juniors Derek Passmore and Jorge Rodriguez work with Lisanne Skyler, a professor in the school of theatre, film and television, to take a creative approach on documentary-style film.

    Jorge Rodriguez, media arts junior and intern for the College of Fine Arts, leans intently toward his computer screen.

    He’s locked in, trying to meet a deadline with Lisanne Skyler, professor in the School of Theatre, Film and Television and award-winning film writer and director.

    The two of them are a cohesive team as they discuss where to place different parts of their current project and why. It turns out cutting an eight-minute trailer down to three minutes is no easy task, a task made more interesting by the type of original, compelling content thrown up on the screen every other second.

    Rodriguez and Skyler have different, and sometimes conflicting, ideologies when it comes to creating original and unique content.

    “Movies are all about taking ideas that have already been done, and remaking them,” Rodriguez said. “But that’s kind of the process, just remaking concepts that have been done in the past.”

    With the recent overload of Hollywood remakes flooding local theaters, those concepts appear to be as tired as ever to the average consumer. Of the movies currently showing at Century 20 Theater in El Con Mall, eight are either direct remakes of pre-existing films or based on existing franchises.

    To some, these types of recent trends indicate the process of creative creation has slowed. But Skyler said she doesn’t see it as an overwhelmingly large problem.

    “There are 20 stories. They come from Shakespeare, they come from Greek myth, and it’s all about how we get there,” Skyler said. “We go to movies expecting certain patterns to happen, but what we’re looking for is something to make it feel like a different journey.”

    Skyler added that we’re living in a complicated world right now, which leaves people feeling nostalgic when they come to the movies. As a result, recent remakes (for example, of comic book movies) have been successful because they follow the satisfying patterns that take us back to a comforting place.

    Such an established pattern of following used storylines for the sake of nostalgia and commercialism, begs the question: How do filmmakers avoid seeming lazy and complacent, without taking away what works?

    2008’s “Slumdog Millionaire,” despite winning eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture, grossed nowhere near the amount “Transformers” did just a year prior. If new and fresh films aren’t getting financially rewarded, the trend looks unlikely to change.

    “In Hollywood, it’s common to hear ‘Oh, that’s profitable, let’s make that again.’ It’s very dangerous to try to make something profitable,” Skyler said. “That’s why it’s important from a business perspective for students to develop their own new, fresh ideas.”

    But escaping the financial reality of the situation isn’t as simple as just having ideas.

    “I’ve had meetings with producers who have also said, ‘That’s a great idea, but people will never buy that so we’re not going to do it. We’d love to make that movie, but we have a deal with XYZ studio, so we just can’t.’ And it’s difficult for students when that temptation to just ‘sell out’ is there.” Skyler said.

    So, is it even possible for a UA student to go out and change it, or is it necessary to accept the cards you’re given in terms of the commercial atmosphere fostered by Hollywood executives?

    Rodriguez explained that up-and-coming filmmakers must challenge themselves to bring something new to the table, which will distinguish them from everybody else.

    From the artist’s perspective, that means being versatile and adaptable, according to Rodriguez.

    “You have to speak your ideas with other people, you have to collaborate and show that you can learn by failing. It’s probably the best thing you could do,” Rodriguez said.

    Skyler agreed that the odds are low in any art form to change the status quo, but said students must ask themselves some questions, like “What do you have to say that’s fresh?” It’s about using those thoughts to generate original content, she said.

    But ultimately filmmakers and artists do not necessarily control what consumers want to consume, Skyler said.

    “This is a business. If we, as consumers, want to see work that’s fresh and interesting, we can’t be lazy and not go see that movie that’s showing down at The Loft or wherever,” she said.

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