Ray Carney Moment of the Day #2

June 14, 2011

American Madness

“This equipment fetish is part of the problem with production programs. Every single applicant I talk with wants to get his hands on a camera in the first week he is in school. They don’t want to have to read anything. Write anything. Think about anything. Study anything. All they want to do is hit the streets and start filming. These are people who, almost without exception, haven’t even seen the important films of the past. They don’t know the work of Tarkovsky or Bresson or Kiarostami. They haven’t even heard of them. They are cinema illiterates. But they are all in a big rush to make the great American masterpiece. How dumb is that? How arrogant is that? And the problem is that most film programs in America have given in to their demands. “We give you hands on from the start” is the mantra the professors stand up and repeat at every student recruitment event all year long. I’ve got news for both the students and the professors. Making art takes more than hands. It takes more than expensive equipment. It takes more than fancy editing suites. It takes more than hot-shot software. Those are not what matter. In fact, they’re a way of avoiding the important things. Art takes knowledge of what has been done by others. It takes study. It takes work on your writing. It takes knowledge of life. It takes thinking. The equipment is the least important part of the process. The equipment is a distraction from what really matters. It’s an avoidance of what really matters. All those tours of the production facilities, all that bragging about fancy equipment, all that pestering the Dean for more money for the latest this or that–it all just shows that the values of the production faculty are as screwed up as the values of the entering Freshmen or grad. students.”

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