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David Poland

By David Poland

A Thought…

It’s funny…
I am perfectly happy for studios to do whatever they want with their movies. Screen ’em. Don’t screen ’em. Whatever.
But I must admit that, really simply, if they send something to Austin, whether for Fantastic Fest or Butt-Numb-A-Thon, my honest reaction is, “Check!”
Of course, many good movies have gone down there. A lot of great talent has gone down there. Huzzah.
But if studios decide that they are going to lead with that as their focus, in simple terms, I am clearly not their market and my relationship to that movie just doesn’t matter much.
I know that a certain contingent will take this as me bellyaching about something they have decided is an issue for me… but I am being honest here (and not naming names on any side of it). There are plenty of people who could care less what I think, how I feel, or whether I care about their movie. This is not a surprise to me. This does not keep me up at night.
The only time I have ever put myself into in a position to force studios to choose me over someone else with the first dibs on a movie was when MCN was doing screenings for the award season… and when the whole thing became something everyone wanted to get into (slammed by the LA Times with a lie, as we made no money on the screenings… and now, even they are trying to do a screening series), we got out of it. Unlike, say, Variety, I don’t feel compelled to prop up my business by trying to muscle studios into giving MCN… well, anything, really.
And this isn’t an issue of seeing something early or first.
People in that community are part of our MCN community. We are happy to have them read and participate. But we don’t serve that community, primarily.
You know, I didn’t rush to see Kung-Fu Panda either. In that community, I was “wrong” about Eli Roth. That was where Mel Gibson decided was safe for The Passion, right after evangelicals and right wingers.
FF/BNAT is where you go for The Boys. And God bless

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7 Responses to “A Thought…”

  1. jeffmcm says:

    ‘Check’ as in “check it out!” or “This gets a check mark!” ?

  2. Wonder17 says:

    When “There Will Be Blood” screened at Fantastic Fest last year, I would say that was in the 2 percent.
    Also David, you’re right not to chase movies that you feel aren’t aimed at you. I don’t usually want to see thrillers or violent films, but when I hear that it’s good, my ears perk up.

  3. Alan Cerny says:

    C’mon Dave. I’m not sure what movie you’re specifically bitching about (my guess is CITY OF EMBER) but FF is really for genre fans. You should go sometime and I’d bet you’d be surprised by how much you enjoy it. And before you trot out the THERE WILL BE BLOOD card, I know that particular audience (I’ve never been to FF but I’ve been to BNAT many times) and they really do devour film there. They’re genuine fans. I’ve seen movies tank at BNAT, and I’ve felt the audience turn on them with vitriol and anger. It’s not automatically a safe bet. As for FF, reading the reviews of the littler films has made me adjust my must see list for the year (LET THE RIGHT ONE IN, JCVD) and that can only be a good thing.
    Seriously. You should just go to FF, if you can get a ticket (I’d bet that next year’s are already well on the way of being sold out).

  4. yancyskancy says:

    jeff: I took Dave to mean “Check, please!” As in, “I’m done.”

  5. jeffmcm says:

    That would make sense, but then his metaphor is kind of mixed. If he’s asking for his check, he already arrived in the restaurant, ordered, and ate, right?

  6. leahnz says:

    that little problem would be solved by the proper spelling of ‘cheque’…(ducks the budweiser beer bottles and genetically modified tomatoes) 😉

  7. anghus says:

    you know, i’m always on the fence on things like this. On one side, i completely agree that the intentions of an FF or a BNAT (I’ve intended one) are always honorable, a slate of films that will be absorbed, devoured, and enjoyed by a particular demographic of filmcentric geeks.
    The assertion that these screenings are handled with critical kid gloves is true, but i think to lay any blame for those throwing the festival just because the studios use them as a marketing opportunity is kind of misplaced.
    The fact that the studios don’t want “you” or “your group” is more a reflection of 21st century marketing. Critics have been removed from the equation for some time, studios have found other outlets to peddle their wares. The fact that the FF/BNAT crew gives these guys an opportunity to screen their films is good for film culture.
    As for film criticism, well, i think there’s little anyone can do to stop the rapid decline of their influence and importance to the process. If the studios ever wised up and stopped spending so much money on awards season, it would be the final blow to the conventional critical template that has existed for decades.
    the film business these days seems to suffer from the same malady as the government. they keep spending and spending and spending and no one ever stops to ask why or whether the result of that spending helps the film in question. Most times, it doesn’t.
    Back to the point: the media created this monster. the mold has been broken, different outlets are used to help promote product. Marketing departments are showing their hands less and bluffing their way through a number of different outlets.
    If anything, i would think that a website you have had issues with over the years giving studio films legitimate places to screen and promote would be seen as a positive step in the right direction.
    Between the lines, it feels like you’re on the roof of the theater screaming “You fools, you’ve all been used!”, when the reality is, whether they are or not, no one seems to mind.

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon