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David Poland

By David Poland

Things I’m Thankful For 2012

Every year that passes, more of my history in this business floats away. Death, firings, retirement, fashion. Things keep changing. Some of the changes are great. Some aren’t.

When I started writing The Hot Blog, née Button, 16 years ago, I was the only daily columnist on movies in any medium aside from Variety’s Army Archerd.

In those 16 years, we have seen the first mainstream DVD release, Twister… and we’re nearing the end of DVD as a major delivery format.

We saw the first $1 billion movie, Titanic… and only one more (in first run) in 2003, another in 2006, and 8 in the 4 years since.

We have seen the end of the daily trade magazine, the creation of web logs (aka Blogs), and the deterioration of entertainment journalism – for better and worse – as we knew it.

We have seen five owners at Universal, the first DreamWorks-distributed release, the last DreamWorks-distributed release, the rise of the Dependents at the major studios and the fall of 4 of those Dependents (leaving 3), the birth and death of subscription DVD, the birth of streaming, and the resurrection of 3D.

And through it all (and a lot more), I have been lucky enough to be here, on the internet, doing work that I love or like, and only rarely hate. Whether I have earned your indulgence or simply been in the right place at the right time to receive it, I appreciate the opportunity.

I AM THANKFUL above all for my wife, my son, and my health. I don’t work the insane hours that I worked in 1996, but I work a lot and my family makes that possible.

I THANK everyone who makes DP/30 possible, from the talent to my camerapeople to the gatekeepers who have embraced this 6-years long project along the way, trusting me with their time, their goodwill, and their clients in an unformatted discussion program that could “go bad” at any time in an era when everything is being done to limit exposure. I can count the “bad” moments on two hands after around 700 interviews (I really need to nail down a number) so I feel I have earned myself some trust… but the first few hundred were sticking their heads into a lion’s mouth on faith. And i am thankful to work with almost of those who were so generous to this day/week/year.

ENDLESS THANKS to The Young Masters, who keep pushing the boundaries of American cinema. I love the foreign masters as well, but I don’t see it as much as an act of bravery to let your freak flag fly elsewhere, where artistry is praised and box office isn’t such the obsession. (Of course, there are those who are literally persecuted for making art that does not conform… true heroes in a world of the brilliantly self-indulgent.) But where would cinema be without the filmmakers who make the films that are routinely said to be unmakeable in today’s commercial environment? Regardless of the success of the artistry, the pushing of the envelope is the greater achievement. I don’t care so much why Bob Zemeckis made a $31m film this year… just that he made it. Don’t really groove to Wachowski/Tykwer or PT Anderson or Sally Potter or Carax? Who cares? Dive in and you can’t drown. If you love film, you can only see more deeply, even if the surface sends you screaming.

Can I thank the people whose names I cannot mention… people who would be embarrassed to be singled out, but who make my work and my life a pleasure? I am fully aware of “movie friends,” but I have—at least on my side—something much more profound with many of the people I work with. I have real feelings. I guess that makes me look dumb, especially after you lied to me that time earlier this year. But that’s your job. I get it. Still, I am not a big bullshitter. I can be courteous. But if I really seem to be interested in you and am making an effort, I am pretty likely to be being sincere. I don’t take it all personally. But after all these years working together, it gets to feel pretty personal. And even if we don’t have much time for one another, I wish we had more.

Thank GOD for documentarians. You are the literal to the great figurative of art… and often blur that line. Sure, there is plenty of mediocrity in the form. But no part of cinema seems so alive and ready to keep growing to me. I have been saying for years that any deep subject is now 3 – 5 documentaries from a rich understanding. The mosaic is what matters, each tile painted by a passionate, hardworking, tireless filmmaker.

I thank Dawn Hudson for doing/allowing so many iffy things at The Academy that it is reminding more and more people that the organization needed a paint job, not a teardown. I really like Dawn and I appreciate her passions (and her team), but there are good reasons why The Academy is THE ACADEMY and not Film Independent and they need to move back to the other side of the line ASAP.

Thanks to The Cannes International Film Festival for the generous welcome after years of me skipping the party. Apparently, I got a good badge color… and I really enjoyed one of the easiest, deepest festivals in the world. It is still insanely expensive and not a good bargain for any non-film US news outlet that wants news that will matter to its readers. But a tremendous, beautifully managed film experience.

My shocked thanks to all my Twitter “followers” who put up with my space-eating diatribes. If I didn’t think it was worth saying, I wouldn’t say it. But some days, I want to unfollow me. Still, the number of you still rises, slower than it used to, but it rises.

I seriously thank all movie journalists who really like to think about what they are writing. You are a dying breed. If you ask yourself the hard questions, you are even more endangered. And if you don’t ask yourself the hard questions you surely won’t ask anyone else.

I backhandedly thank Nikki Finke for continuing to make the low bar for journalism so crystal clear. You have done what every playground bully seeks to do… lower the standards of living so that you can have perceived control of said playground while adding absolutely nothing to the experience except unpleasantness and fear. Those who protect you seek advantage. Those who accept you without question are already in the deluded position of The Bullied. You are now and, sadly I suspect, will ever be a blight on this industry, making cowards out of those more powerful than you… which is almost everyone who has ever showed any honest passion for their work, whether in the industry or journalism. People don’t really understand where your “scoops” come from, why, or at what cost. I’m not saying that what you doing isn’t very hard work. It is. And you are a very hard worker. But not much of a journalist.

My endless thanks to the hundreds of DP/30 guests who enlighten me every year… no so much about their films or the art form, but about human beings. Whether it is a master who I have spent time with in the past or a rising actor I am meeting for the first time or a below-the-liner whose job is often not noticed fully, there is something to be taken from every person. When I started DP/30, it was to gather the experience I was having of meeting these people. Now, I wonder how to better capture the moments we share before and after interviews without taking advantage of that odd intimacy. And I wonder how I can grow from those profound scraps each time I get them. I can’t explain, for instance, what I get from Haneke before or after a filmed conversation. But I know it informs as much as or more than the interview, whether that is his intention or not. It’s another layer of listening.

I am thankful for the Hot Blog readers who have gotten less than they deserve from me this year. Besides shooting 100 hours of video in multiple cities and countries, I am tweeting much of what I used to blog, I have a 2.5 year old son, a wife, and in 2012, a presidential election that really disturbed me for months. I am not the guy who wrote 2,000 words a day for The Hot Button column for years, nor the guy who started blogging 8 or 9 years ago. I am spread out. Some of the things I used to write about frequently that were very popular are just not that interesting to me anymore. I am not as anxious to fight every fight. And I apologize for that. I’d like to be more focused… and I guess, in a way, I am. Just not on the blog. I will endeavor to better in 2013.

I am so very thankful to filmmakers who keep paying attention to all the formats I deliver content through… and to publicists and executives too. I have always lived multiple lives. I get attention from different groups in different ways. This suits my temperament. But I have to be reminded of how my voice does connect sometimes and, sure enough, I am often reminded in unexpected ways… for which i am very thankful.

My daily thanks to the YouTube community and the many outgrowths that now have DP/30 up to over 10,000 views every day of the year. I’d like to ramp that up and get to over 4 million views of these interviews next year, but given how crappy my promotional skills have been, I am very pleased for the consistent incremental growth. And thanks to the many commenters who offer opinions of all stripes every day… even when the comments are stupid as hell (most aren’t).

Special thanks to Team Movie City News. It’s been a time of evolution, this 2012. But we keep pushing out a valuable product every day. And I certainly couldn’t do it without you all, especially Ray Pride, who is our headline master, and my founding partner in MCN, Laura Rooney, who is less involved in the day-to-day now, but who made the existence of this site possible.

The world has been incredibly generous to me, this year as it has in many years past. There is nothing outside of my family that stirs my soul, still, after all these years, like a movie. Even when I don’t love the film, when I feel like I am seeing someone’s vision come to life in the way they intended, my heart leaps. I am lucky to have that. I am lucky to be able to indulge that passion.

May you have a wonderful Thanksgiving and a glorious year to come.

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10 Responses to “Things I’m Thankful For 2012”

  1. samizdat says:

    In all seriousness, what’s MCN/the company worth after 16 years? If a mogul comes calling what price would put the business in play?

  2. Snrubbers says:

    Ugh, I hate to be the guy who does this, but ROTK broke a billion in its first run back in 2003.

  3. Keil Shults says:

    Rise of the Kardashians?!

  4. David Poland says:

    Yes… mixed up the two years with billion $ movies before they became a norm. Fixed now. Thanks.

  5. sanj says:

    hey DP – thanks for the 50 + dp/30’s that got a 8/10 from me…on a weekly basis i still get surprised by the stories
    people tell in the interviews .

  6. David Poland says:

    For the holiday record, Don Murphy has already sent a couple of nasty, in some cases libelous comments… really, the same comment repeated. He remains an unwelcome voice on this blog, not because he disagrees with me about anything, but because all he adds is bile.

    I am, actually, thankful for people who challenge or correct my ideas. I am not thankful for people who hate for no reason and have nothing of value to add to the conversation.

    I will deal will his crap on another day.

    Happy holidays,

  7. cadavra says:

    And a Happy Toikey Day to you as well, DP.

    And as the resident Grumpy Old Dude, allow me to give thanks to The Old Masters–Eastwood, Scorsese, Spielberg, Burton, Woody, et al–who continue to create movies that challenge and entertain us despite the “baggage” of stationary cameras, shots that last more than 12 frames, performers hired for talent instead of hotness, and scripts written by people who actually know how to construct a complete sentence.

  8. Lex says:

    Let me give thanks to Kristen Stewart, Keira Knightley, Chloe Grace Moretz, Amanda Seyfried, Rachael Taylor, and Emma Stone.

    The most talented people in the business.

  9. Bob Burns says:

    Thankful for your voice, reporting and commentary… have read nearly every Hot Button/Blog.

    would be especially thankful if you took an extra half hour to edit and untangle your writing.

  10. Theschu says:

    I’d love to know what some of those “bad” DP/30’s were.

The Hot Blog

Quote Unquotesee all »

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