Sunday, August 4, 2013

In Defense of Spike Lee

I will admit, I have never seen a Spike Lee movie in my life, which seriously needs to change. But in the past week, I have been a little disturbed this past week watching Spike Lee being talked down to on two separate interviews. Recently Spike Lee began a campaign to finance his own movie on the crowd funding website Kickstarter. The campaign has generated some controversy, considering the site is typically considered to be a platform for younger and unnoticed enterprises whereas Lee is one of the most acclaimed directors of his time.

This was the gist of both of the interviews Lee did. In both instances the gist of the interview was that since Lee is a successful, why would he need crowd-funding? The CNBC interview was particularly offensive when one of the interviewers quoted a website comment saying that if someone as successful as Lee could not get a movie funded then he might as well hang it up.

The absurdity of that comment shows a bit of cluelessness about the film industry. Name recognition does not warrant that their pitches will always get picked up. Conversely, just because film executives do not see a film as being worth funding does not necessarily mean the idea is poor quality.

It is not a mistake that both of these interviews, were on business channels. In both interviews, the seemed the most important aspect to define success is how much money someone has or how much money a movie can gross. However, ticket sales or revenue does not make a film successful. Sometimes quality does not translate to quality of output.

But also both of these interviews ignore the fact that there have already been attempts by people who would largely be considered successful to go the crowd-funded way. Louis C.K.'s Live at the Beacon Theater  was completely funded by ticket sales and by people buying the show directly online for $5. The venture was successful and C.K. won an Emmy. He could have easily gone through a large distributor and had a guarantee of a larger chunk of cash but instead went independently and had it pay off, not necessarily monetarily but with a quality production.

Similarly, Andrew Sullivan, the godfather of modern-day political blogging, went independent in February, relying completely on his readers to generate his revenue and go without advertisements or being housed by a large publication like the Daily Beast or the Atlantic. As the former editor of the New Republic, host of the Dish, the blog by which all other blogs are judged, Sullivan didn't need crowd-funding but rather has chosen to do it in the same spirit of the Dish--which is to promote a greater symbiotic relationship between Sullivan and his readers.

Similarly, Lee is attempting to directly appeal to viewers to say that if they like what Spike Lee does, then they can take part in helping him make a new film. In turn, there can also be the advantage of allowing for more devotion from those who watch his movies. If they give money to a movie, viewers are probably more likely to go see the film and tell those around them to check it out. Lee's attempts should not be misconstrued to his ideas not being marketable enough but he should be applauded for trying to venture into new territory in a film industry in need of changes.

No comments:

Post a Comment