James Gray on the Financial Reality of Being a Mid-Budget Filmmaker
Love this reality check from James Gray who has been working consistently for over two decades, who is recognized and acclaimed by the critics, who directs strong films with recognizable names and yet, who still rent an apartment and hasn’t, like everybody assumes when you cross a certain “level” in directing, reached financial security.
“You know, people assume that because I’m a director, I make tons of money. I am struggling financially. Now, I’m very lucky I get to do what it is I want to do. I’ve made, good or bad, very uncompromising movies, the movies exactly that I wanted to make, and that’s a beautiful gift, so I’m not complaining about that. But I struggle. I have a hard time paying my bills. I’m 47 years old, I live in an apartment, I can’t buy a house.
If I were coming of age in 1973, I would be in Bel Air. The whole reason for this is exactly what we were talking about, where the middle is gone. So now you have franchises, and you have, ‘I made a movie on my iPhone.’ This is the economic system in a nutshell, right?
Five directors make Marvel, and then there’s the rest of us who are trying to scrounge around to find the money to make films. And it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy: If the audience only gets to see Marvel, then they only want Marvel, and then if they only want Marvel, only Marvel is made. I don’t even have a problem with Marvel. The problem is not the specifics of each movie, the problem is it’s the only movie you can see now in a multiplex, and when it’s the only game in town, you’re looking at the beginning of the death throes of an art form.”
Source: Vulture “James Gray and the Struggle of the Middle-Class Filmmaker“