We had a great first event for the Screenwriter’s Workshop with Actor/Writer/Director Keith Gordon who has been mentoring up at the Sundance Labs and came down for a Q&A with us. Keith was in some very popular films in the 80’s like Christine, Back to School, and one of I somehow ended up watching every time it was on cable because I thought the whole premise was so strange, The Legend of Billie Jean. Before the event, we had a private screening of his film Waking the Dead and then we also got a copy of the script to read so we could see how sometimes what is written on the page gets changed when it’s being filmed. This film was adapted from a novel of the same name.
He had some great stories about experiences as an actor as well as being an independent filmmaker and some advice about the screenwriting process. But after the evening I was depressed thinking about the state of film today. He said that it was a difficult time for film and also an exciting time. It’s difficult because many of the independent film companies of the 90s are long gone and it’s really hard to make a movie and get it distributed. Mainstream cinema is geared towards teenagers and they don’t take a chance on anything new or different. He also said that a lot of the complex stories are now making their way to television instead of feature films. The good news is that equipment has gotten so cheap and if you aren’t interested in the mainstream there are ways to get your product out there that were never available before. The fact of the matter is that people aren’t necessarily going to the theatres to see a film. They are watching them on their mobile devices or computers as well.
As a lover of the movie-going experience I was depressed by the first part of this equation. I am afraid I will find myself going less and less to the cinema because the things I am interested in won’t be portrayed there. Besides the Harry Potter films I never go see the summer blockbusters because they are sooo boring and there is nothing new there. I can’t help but think if people would stop going to see those films, maybe there would be a change, but in all honesty, it’s probably more complex than that.
I would recommend the film we discussed, Waking the Dead, with Jennifer Connelly and Billy Crudup. It’s one of those films that’s open to interpretation and pretty haunting. It’s available to stream on Netflix.