Studios Gamble on Untested Directors for Big Movies With Mixed Results ►

Josh Rottenberg wrote a piece for the Los Angeles Times comparing Colin Trevorrow to Josh Trank. The first few paragraphs make it read like it really is about the two of them, but then the piece goes in a more interesting direction and speculates about why studios want someone inexperienced for these big tent-pole productions.

Both directors were caught up in a trend that has gathered steam in recent years, as studios have been increasingly looking to untested directors to helm high-stakes tent-pole movies. Most recently, in June Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios hired Jon Watts to take over the “Spider-Man” franchise on the strength of his minimalist thriller “Cop Car,” which Watts shot in his rural Colorado hometown for just $800,000.

Sony did something similar already, when they hired Marc Webb to direct the Amazing Spider-Man reboot, and brought him back for the sequel. Sort of a mixed bag there. If you scroll down to the bottom of the LAT piece there’s a “Nine young directors who’ve made the leap from small films to blockbuster projects” list that even highlights Marc Webb in spite of the text above discussing the new fresh-face being brought in for the Spider-Man franchise.

So many factors but one that doesn’t typically get brought up is the fact that many films are made after the footage has been shot. The old joke “we’ll fix it in post” is something everyone’s heard before.

“The studio executives and marketers want to control the movie so badly, they don’t want a visionary director,” says one high-ranking talent agent. “They want to basically make the movie themselves. So much of it is made in CGI now anyway that you can fix it if it’s messed up, so they can get away with a lot more mistakes. And they don’t really care about deep performances from the actors — that’s not really what they’re looking for.”

I can’t speak to this from any tentpoles I’ve personally worked on, but it’s not unreasonable to assume that this is a possible explanation for entrusting unknown directors. Re-editing sequences, flopping plates, stitching two plates together, omits, reshoots, and completely animated shots that can be tweaked until 1 month before release.

Colin notes that he didn’t experience that on Jurassic World but Trank, in his deleted tweet, does lay the blame at the feet of studio meddling. It’s possible the executives at one studio don’t intervene like they do at another, or that they only step in if they (the suits) perceive a problem. (Whether it’s warranted or not.)

As an audience member, I frequently wonder how a studio went along with a director’s impulses, but I also condemn a studio interferring with the artistic intent and making a movie by committee. It’s kind of hard to reconcile these opposing views.

The article even touches on gender for a bit. Noting that inexperienced men are getting these offers, and there doesn’t seem to be the same happening for women. Colin chimed in with a theory that the many women are turning down the opportunities offered to them — LAT highlights Ava DuVernay turning down Black Panther. I’m not sure that I would really focus on her turning that down as an example that women just don’t want these jobs.

In any event, it’s worth thinking about what’s in Rottenberg’s article.

2015-08-20 01:00:00

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