Friday, September 08, 2006

Harvest of the dreamers...

A successful producer was telling me what he'd heard about a director I like very much who has fallen out of favor recently. "He's a dreamer," was the word around town. I knew right away that this was code for "he has impractical ideas," which also could translate as "we don't get him." I'm not naive when it comes to the way Hollywood works, but this struck me as particularly sad, especially because I think this director has so much more to say.

Did you know we invented a machine that can record dreams? It's true. Over one hundred years ago. It's called the movie camera. Because these things were expensive, this potent mythmaking technology became industrialized very quickly. Our instinct to explore our dreams was immediately stunted by economic reality. The dreams that would be captured on film had to be ok'd by committee. The dreams had to be popular ones. If they were too weird or too scary or too sexy or too anything another scissor-wielding committee would block their passage. The players in the dreams grew powerful as did the dream backers. Agendas were hatched, profits were made, formulas revealed themselves. The actual stuff of dreams, to which this technology had such rare access, was sidelined to a very large degree.

Eventually, some brave souls set out on their own, found independent backers, and began to put the technology to its "proper" use. But again, economics ruled the roost. Creatives could dream but getting them down on film and out to the people would most likely kill you. Then new technology arrived. Almost anyone can afford it. But the dreams have been obscured, overshadowed. The new cameras are largely used to make porn and cheap imitations of the big budget movies. But still there is hope. The dreamers are getting ahold of the equipment and using their skills to find ways of getting their dreams out. These new methods may lack the singularity and the public splendor of theatergoing, and for now that's a problem. A two inch iPod screen held in a jostling sweaty paw does not necessarily do a great service to unleashing the power of dreams. Interesting times though. Hats off to all the functional dreamers.

(Check out Jason's new video for Clinic called "Harvest.")

(photo by Joel Sternfeld )


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