Wednesday, January 16, 2008

WTF is Pangea Day? ...and why I think whatever it is, is stupid.

I've been stewing about this post for a while and, originally, it was going to be more about ripping on Pangea Day, but now it's more about a point that I want to make. Either way, here's the link to Pangea Day's official site, so you can check it out for yourself and see what I'm talking about.

Pangea Day, as far as I can tell, is a four hour program of film submissions from all over the world that should "tell a story that someone else on the other side of the world will be able to relate to". Further, being subjected to this event will "help people see themselves in others – through the power of film". I would call this an interesting experiment, maybe an art project, at best... I really don't know why they even used film as the delivery mechanism, but because they did, I see this project having the same problem that a lot of indie horror films have. That problem is, you really can't be every film to every person... the more you try to cater to everyone, the less people you're actually going to reach. (Unless you're "Pirates of the Caribbean" or "Harry Potter", but they're designed like that for a reason. See my post from a couple days ago on PG movies) The reason is that this is a generation that knows what it wants because there's so much out there and they have access to all of it. You'll be far more successful if you are a great film in your niche sub-genre than if you're an average film that spans various genres. That's what I think the organizers of Pangea Day don't get.

Sure, they'll get a lot of interest from so-called scholars, a few hippies and that older, peace-loving demographic that's doesn't "get" this generation. ...and, fine, if that's who you're looking to reach, have at 'er. You can all sit around and talk about how today's generation is so lost. Quite frankly, I really don't care... but don't try to make this look like it's something for film fans. I don't think they'll care about some guy in Yakutsk who filmed a short about life in his village. Maybe other people in his village will care, but Sven in Sweden sure doesn't, he's got his own problems with his windmill to deal with. ...and I don't care what either of them are doing, I just want to see a good slasher flick. Trying to make something for everyone just doesn't work, especially if you're trying to cater to everyone in the whole wide world.

Now, for my point and, remember, this doesn't apply to the Hollywood blockbusters. If you're making a movie, figure out what genre it is. I mean really figure it out. Is it horror, drama, comedy? Is it about aliens, ghosts, a slasher? Is it a B-Movie, gore, boobie movie? I can go on and on breaking it down (Amazon has 21 sub-categories under "horror", by the way), but... say you're doing a straight-to-DVD gore film about a mutant slasher, running amok in the city after he was bitten by a hooker who was a government experiment gone wrong. When you're in pre-production, go out and find other movies in that sub-genre and take a good, hard look at the few that did work, as well as the ones that didn't work. (for this particular random idea, I'm thinking "C.H.U.D.", "American Werewolf in London" or "Mulberry Street" may make for good studying) Now, figure out exactly what you want to do, differentiate yourself from the others in the sub-genre where necessary and get to work. I see too many films that decided to lay off the gore, go easy on the nudity or make the characters more mainstream. Be extreme, be niche. If you can be really good or even just different in a very small, niche genre and impress that specific audience, good word of mouth will do the rest. If you're going to try to make a film that everyone in the world can enjoy, you're just going to get lost in the ocean of other films that tried to be every film to every person, like this Pangea Day project... which I'm not going to go see.

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