Monday, May 19, 2008

The Formula for a Great Movie

There is none. Not even the media mecca of Hollywood knows what it is.

Studios didn't want to take a risk on first-time filmmakers Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris when they pitched an idea for an indie movie called "Little Miss Sunshine". But whoever did now has two Oscars. This led to more studios investing in similar movies like "Juno".

Hollywood spends millions and millions every year to try and find it. And more often than not, they're unsuccessful. Here are a few examples:

You can have great directing like Darren Aronofsky in "The Fountain" and Danny Boyle in "The Beach" and not even make a blip on the radar.

You can have top A-List actors like Robert Redford, Tom Cruise and Meryl Streep in "Lions for Lambs" and people still won't flood the box office.

You can have a huge budget topped with special effects like in "Lady In the Water" and it could disappear faster than it arrived.

You can have a great writer like Paul Haggis write "In the Valley of Elah" and still not get any play.

You can have a great editor like Jill Bilcock in "Romeo and Juliet" and "Moulin Rouge" and still get snubbed by the Academy.

You can have a great vision like in "The Libertine" and people still won't get it.

And you can have it all - like writer, director, producer, editor, musician Robert Rodriguez and still not be a top-tier name to the general public.

This is why so many movies feature the low common denominators of car chases, explosions, guns, good looking faces, sex and money - because they are basically the safest and financially proven movie ingredients that are needed for the masses to get up, go out and see a film.

As a filmmaker you have to realize that filmmaking is a risk. If it's really worth it, you just have to do your best, believe in yourself, your project and in the people you work with and take that leap of faith. When all is said and done, movie making is a HUGE risk. But it's a risk that might work just as much as it might not. You're really never going to know until you do it. So just take a deep breath, take the risk on yourself and go for broke - literally and figuratively. ;)