Alejandro Gonzales Iñarritu on the Real Cost of Making Films.
“It’s never been easier to make films.” Ha, the line everybody loves repeating over and over. Really? Techonologically speaking, yes. But it’s never been harder to get your film seen and to recoup.
Mexican filmmaker and producer Alejandro Gonzales Iñarritu, whose first film is one of my all time favorites, is aware of that reality and doesn’t pretend that making films is still not the most absurd medium one can use to try create Art.
During a short talk at the PGA, Inarritu debunks three myths that have developed along with the idea that “it’s never been easier to make films”.
Drop Denial Part 1: Making Film Is Not About Control
20 years ago, making films was not a career option. It was limited to a few lucky ones within a specific gender and race group. That’s democratized a bit. And becoming a filmmaker has definitely become one recurring option entertained by today’s youth. This leads many to think making films is less of a crazy life choice than it used to be. It’s not. Filmmakers are still trying to create substance within an expensive and complex equation:
If we, as producers, we pretend as these crazy people that don’t believe in Global Warming, that we can control Nature and that we are the masters of Nature, I think we will hit the wall.
If we think that we can control the Beast completely, what the film starts demanding as a creature, as a living thing that starts developing itself, if we are not humble to listen and sometimes go to the extremes to serve that, then we become just toothpaste producers, or shoes producers.
Drop Denial Part 2: Making Film Is Still Crazy
Everybody tries to figure out the recipe to make a film that works. But if there’s a dose of skills and experience necessary to make it work, making film is about the art of adapting and being humble in front of the process:
What we are dealing with here is a very complex thing, it’s not a controllable product. It’s not a shoe, it’s not a toothpaste. We cannot pretend that we control everything and that’s why I truly believe that we have to be a little crazy, and I’m not saying this lightly.
Crazy in a way that you have to bet a lot of money in something, that you have to feel incredibly passionate, you have to have an incredibly clear vision and mission with a great team, embark yourself in that, know that you can fail badly, that most likely you will fail, but if you succeed and you surrender to the process risking almost all, you probably can get a little bit of the beautifulness of transporting people to another level of consciousness and emotion, and you will reveal something about life in a different way.
Drop Denial Part 3: Making Films Still Comes With a High Cost
Yes, production costs have dropped. But the price tag of filmmaking is the sum of many lines. For Iñarritu surrendering humbly to the complex process of trying to make a great film comes with an equally complex cost:
It costs money, it costs your life, you have to get out of your family, you have to get out of your comfort zone. Let me tell you, nobody will go see a film because the guys were on schedule and on budget. Nobody gives a shit. What people give a shit about is how good the film is. Nobody understands the complexity of what happens to make a film, and nobody can judge that lightly.