f a i t h * i n * f i c t i o n: The Ascendance of Message-Driven "Art"

f a i t h * i n * f i c t i o n

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The Ascendance of Message-Driven "Art"

Mark Cuban, a man I find fascinating, is a billionaire who blogs. He's got his hands in quite a number of pies these days (owns the Dallas Mavericks, HDNet, etc) and one of those pies is the movie industry. A week or two ago, he put forth a challenge: Figure out a way to GUARANTEE 5 million people show up at a movie and he'd give you a job.

His challenge got 800+ responses. (If you're in the promotion game at all, I encourage you to read some of them because the ideas of how to get people to a movie are not unlike, in the end, getting people to buy a book. The basics are all the same.)

Cuban's post today analyzes those responses and offers some rationale why many of the solutions don't quite work. One of his points was interesting:

(Here he's talking about rewarding people somehow for going to a movie. And all errors in spelling, punctuation, etc are his. He's the one person on the net who self-edits less than me. Or "less than I." Whatever.)
This has been done before, but isnt done often enough, including by our film companies HDNetFILMS, Magnolia Pictures and 2929ent. The perfect examples are religious, political and social groups who drove viewers to Passion of the Christ, An Inconvenient Truth and other movies that entertain or try to educate with a message that supporters of that message go out of their way to support.

Its interesting to me how supporters of the various messages feel they are having their message reinforced with boxoffice success of the movie they are promoting. That desire to do well at the box office as a message itself, often leads to a lot of hard work by the groups organizers and followers to get people to the theater. In fact, the grassroots efforts of these groups can actually bring millions of viewers to a movie. The problem is that this doesnt apply to every movie. Only a select few. Its an approach we will use with a new Mag Pictures movie we have coming out called Jesus Camp, but wouldnt apply to 90pct of what we do.

So many of the calls today (admittedly here and elsewhere) are for "less propagandistic message" and "more craft." But Cuban points out that there's real strength, real usefulness in having such a one-sided message. And that usefulness is that others will come alongside and say, "This is what I feel, too. And I want others to know I feel that way so I'm going to support this "art" with my dollars.

I don't really have any point here. I guess it just seems like another example of how we're all shouting at each other in various and sundry ways. "Christ is Lord!" "Our planet is doomed!" "Cowboys can be gay!" "$#&%# Bush!" "We love penguins!"

Is there even any room for conversation amid the din?