Tag Archives: Steve McQueen

In light of projected greed

This is an odd phrase, projected greed is not the same as greed, it is not. Projected greed is about speculated revenue, but greed tends to be a driving motive here, no matter how you stage your response. The salesman states words like ‘pipeline’ because it gives him a handle on quarterly bonus, he’ll tell you that it is about the continuity of sales, but it is not, it really is not. The CEO uses all kinds of terms for the ‘saleslife of his quarter’, but the stage of the quarter and their extra monetary incomes are linked to it. So how do we see this in movies? For producers it tends to be about the above break even point, even as it tends to be disrupted by visibility, but good visibility is movie momentum that a producer can push onto his next project. 

As I made mention before in ‘What is unintended discrimination?‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2020/02/07/what-is-unintended-discrimination/) we need to see that recognition of revenue and the missing of unadulterated vision and attention which drives down movie revenue, the stage of projected greed gets bitten by being the biter.

In the last few days we have seen all kinds of people critics, movie stars, directors and producers give voice to diversifying the Oscars and Baftas. 

Bafta

This is actually the simple one, the ‘mission’ of the Bafta is stated as “The stated charitable purpose of BAFTA is to “support, develop and promote the art forms of the moving image, by identifying and rewarding excellence, inspiring practitioners, and benefiting the public”“, all whilst the supported part is “Films must have been available to the UK public for the first time in the UK between 1 January 2019 & 31 January 2020. There is an exception for Films Not In The English Language (FNIEL) which are eligible if they have been made available to the UK public for the first time between 1 January 2019 & 28 February 2020” which we see at https://awards.bafta.org/sites/default/files/images/ee_british_academy_film_awards_1920_-_rules_and_guidelines_-_feature_categories_october_2019.pdf

As such a movie is eligible when it was available for watching in England, seems all very correct, does it not?

In 2019, a total of 786 movies were released in the United States and Canada, which implies that when we consider Bollywood and Nollywood that number goes up by a decent amount. At which stage can you diversify when we see that there are around 775 cinemas in the United Kingdom? Now we need to consider that some movies are in a cinema for weeks and that some movies are almost in every city for example, in 2019 Avengers: Endgame played in 682 cinema’s in the UK alone, as such when you see that there are 775 cinema’s, we see that ONE TITLE takes up a lot of space in the display area. As such there is no way that these 786 movies can be shown. And the British people want sensational movies (as do people in most nations), so tell me where does that leave a title like Lionheart?

 

Abacus

This was simple stuff that could have been figured out by a 5 year old on an abacus, it was not that hard and I like putting this out there as some critics requested the dismissal of HRH Prince Harry (or was that Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence and Avondale?), ah well that person (the critic) will optionally fall over his on words of misinterpreted denial soon enough.

And I forgot about one part that was actually obvious and clearly out there, but just for jollies “Films are not eligible when they have been previously entered into the British Academy Film, Television, or Television Craft Awards“.

So in all this in 2019 when we consider Avenger: Endgame (Robert Downey Junior, Chris Hemsworth), 1917, Once Upon a time in Hollywood (Brad Pitt), Joker (Joaquin Phoenix),  Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (John Boyega, Daisy Ridley), Bombshell (Charlize Theron), Jumanji: The Next Level (Dwayne Johnson, Karen Gillan), Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw (Jason Statham, Dwayne Johnson) all movies in multiple cinemas for multiple weeks, it makes the remaining space not spacious, it is the drawback of more and more film releases. I left the Marvel movies and Cats alone for obvious and opposite reasons. I also have not even taken movies with Will Smith and Angelina Jolie into consideration. As such, when we see Steve McQueen (the director, not the actor) give us “BAFTAs risk becoming irrelevant“, we see an optional valid argument, but the stage to diversification is stale and now almost obsolete, the need for greed took care of that part. His view of “After a while you get a bit fed up with it. Because if the BAFTAs are not supporting British talent, if you’re not supporting the people who are making headway in the industry, then I don’t understand what you are there for. If (film-makers) are not recognised visually in our culture, well what’s the bloody point? It becomes irrelevant, redundant and of no interest or importance. End of“, when we consider the rules, we see that the deck is warped through the need for greed (producers call it getting their investment back), we can push to change the rules, yet the environment of being able to watch a movie is not in sync with the needs of those good enough to win. Lionhart was merely one example, there are plenty more and whilst the filling of cinemas is set around the release of Marvel movies (not a bad thing) we need to consider that time is also a factor, income is a factor. I went to the movies at least once a week when I was young, bills and payments have set this back to once a month and from there to 2-3 times a year, Also limits factors in movie revenue because each trip to the cinema is $25 at least and that is when I bring my own bottle of soda and a pack of lollies. As such can you deny that Netflix had become a gift from heaven to millions of people?

The final rule for Bafta that matters is “An entry can be made either to the Film Awards or to the Television and/or Television Craft Awards, not both“, as such how did the Irishman get in? It is a superb movie, yet which category did it get mixed in with? In addition when we see ‘Andy Serkis to receive top honour at BAFTA for ‘revolutionary’ contribution to cinema‘ and we see him getting all that well earned credit, yet we saw no mention of him being a cut throat mercenary in two Marvel movies, odd is it not? 😉

Oscar

Here we almost get a repetition of the Baftas, although what I did not know (never looked it up before “to be eligible for awards consideration, a film must have a minimum seven-day theatrical run in a Los Angeles County commercial theater, with at least three screenings per day for paid admission“, as such we see a small bewilderment, he idea that the voice of America is based on ‘a minimum seven-day theatrical run in a Los Angeles County commercial theater‘, in light of this we see a larger issue, from what I am speculating (I could not get the numbers) we see that the Oscars are likely based on a much smaller sample size than the Baftas, with the previous arguments in sight, as well as “Voting on all achievements shall be restricted to active and life Academy members“, which we accept makes sense, yet as the movie industry goes on, as it intertwines with HBO, Netflix, Apple and Stan. How much time will a voter get? The rules could be found at https://www.oscars.org/sites/oscars/files/92aa_rules.pdf and even as it looks a little more ‘lawyeree’ than the Bafta rules, it is not unreadable. Yet in light of voters, how much time did they get (as well as interest) to watch 786 movies? Consider the personal diary of Adam Driver (or Tessa Thompson for that matter), how much time did they have to sit down and watch a movie they liked and a movie they thought had to checked out because the critics were raving about it? When we consider that, we see a shifting image and the movie list given earlier (we might think that Adam was biased seeing Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker), we need to consider a much larger stage. Oh and cutting down on Oscars and time on TV would not be a bad thing to consider either.

Yet how will that go over with the people cut from consideration? When we look back to the first Oscar, where the presentation ceremony lasted 15 minutes and had 12 winners, in this the most notable part is that Charles Chaplin lost out on three nominations, it is a big difference from the 92nd Oscars, is it not?

I do optionally not disagree with the ‘So White’ part of the outcry, but as I see it, there is a limiting factor in place that makes it hard to get distinguished here and in the 2020 Oscars we get to see Parasite, a South Korean movie (the distinction of South is important here) ending up with 4 wins and two nominations is pretty amazing. How excellent must this movie be to get that many awards (I did not see it yet), it is also amazing that it is the first non-English picture to ever win best picture. 

So until we change the premise of who is allowed to win, we will get a grey collection of movies that are in the running. In all this Parasite and Joker are already a larger step towards exceptional movies that are less mainstream than what mostly takes the slices of the cakes. And in light of all this, there is still the factor of projected greed; it is not the continuation of getting your money back. Avengers: endgame, cost 365 million, revenue 2,800 million. Then there is the real life Lion King with a cost of 260 million and a revenue of 1,700 million, two movies that took up exactly how many theatre rooms in Los Angeles County? That is part of the premise as well, because as they run, other excellent movies could not be set to the rules of being a nominee. Now I am not blaming these two movies, yet the premise of the Oscars is most easily seen when you consider that part of the equation. Projected greed might be the most dangerous part in all this, first of all because it is not actual greed, but it is closely related to its awful brother, and movies have become too much about projected revenues, in this, which studio exactly used to rely on ‘Ars gratia artis‘ (Art for art’s sake) before they (and all others) seem to have transferred it into ‘Ars pro reditus‘ (art for the sake of revenue)? It seems unfair on the directors, actors and actresses, yet they too are linked to their careers and they need to be the person who grows the income of the producer if they want to stay employed, in this I reckon both the Bafta and Oscar get to draw the short straw.

 

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Black & White are not colours

This time it was not the Guardian that got things started, it was actually a man from Birmingham, you know, the one city in the UK with an obscene amount of Ashton Villa fans. It was his sketch ‘How is this STILL a thing‘ (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XebG4TO_xss) that started it all. To appreciate what comes next, you should take a look at the video. It makes a few jabs, some actually hilarious. In the collections of laughs, there is one gem that is centre in all this. It is the mention of Ridley Scott. The quote “SCOTT: The short sharp crude answer is, I couldn’t get a film like that mounted for that kind of budget—we were $145 million, not $260 million, so that wasn’t bad– but to make Moses black and his wife Ethiopian? They never would have made the movie“. That is part of the issue, or is that part of the answer?

No matter who we want as a cast, there is still the director (the visionary) and the producer (the money man) and the producer is often not just putting his money up, but a ‘manager’ of several ‘investors’. I would like to be all in agreement and there is enough data, but is the entire issue this simple? You see, there is also something called a script and when you seek on Google, we get ‘Category: African-American screenwriters‘, which gives 80 names. Is that not part of the problem? Now, this list might be lacking in many ways, yet would any famous names be missing? Now we get something, my first step was to look for Alice walker, as I loved the movie ‘the Colour Purple’. She was not there, so I sought out the Oscars and found out that the adapted screenplay was written by snowy white Menno Meyjes, a Dutchman. Now there is no critique on that part, yet I wonder is this not part of something else? You see, my thoughts (which might be terribly wrong), was thinking that the USA has its share of really wealthy non-Caucasian people. What if they took a script, gave the option to a visionary African American director and let them rip out a true cash maker? Would it work? Let’s not forget that Hollywood is the stomping ground to a few visionary African American directors. John Singleton, Spike Lee, Melvin van Peebles, Will Smith, Forest Whittaker. There is plenty of talent there, and the list of really good African American actors and actresses would go on for quite some time. So what is stopping them?

I will give you an option, just an option, not a claim that this is the reason.

I believe that a great movie require the union of a scriptwriter and a director. If those two are not brought together the entire process sizzles from day 0. Which gets us back to the 80 African American scriptwriters. Is that truly the case? Why can’t others write about black heroes? Well, personally, from my own views as I am writing my novel, I am writing it from my point of view, my Caucasian point of view. There is no malice, no intent to stop African Americans, I have not lived as an African American, so how can I write about one, or a Mexican, a Japanese or a Chinese for that matter. I think that this is the first step in all this and it is just my view.

So what to do?

I believe that there are solutions for everything, if Will Smith can reforge I, Robot to be a success, he can pretty much do anything. Yet, how can this change the industry? This is where them billion thingamajigs come into play. A script is one thing, the money to make it a reality is another. You see, any form of visionary requires realism, it needs funding! In the set of three, the script, the producer and the director, the Director seems to be the easiest one, yet it will requires his visionary views to make the other two a reality, one that really pays off. Again, this is just my view on this.

In the first place, the American Universities. Why are they not trying to kindle the skill of artistic writing within their African American community? Perhaps they are, I do not know, but with all those Ivy leagues schools the list I saw of screenwriters is that limited?

Consider that the Writers Guild of America, East has well over 3500 full members and the Writers Guild of America, West has over 9000 full members. Now consider that (I know not the most reliable source) Wiki specifically the African-American screenwriters page shows 80 names. Now, I am the first to state that there is no statistical way that this is correct, but, the fact that not more visibility is an equal issue here. The Committee of Black Writers, part of Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW) gives us a decent amount of goods, especially when we read the report by Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA, Professor of Sociology. You see, this is not the laughing version John Oliver brought us, this gives us an academic confirmation “The familiar story of male and white dominance told in previous Hollywood Writers Reports still characterized industry employment and earnings patterns in 2012, the last year covered in this report“, in addition we see “The earnings gap between white male writers and women writers closed considerably by 2012, while the earnings gap between white male writers and minority writers remained large“, which gets me back to the very first thought, why isn’t African American America picking up the slack on their side, pushing and promoting the work of African Americans? Now, there is loads wrong with that statement, the fact that they have to do this is one, because there is no feasible way that the non-Caucasian population lacks drive, ambition, talent or creativity.

Evidence?

Alejandro G. Iñárritu (The Revenant, Birdman), Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity), Steve McQueen (12 years a Slave) and Ang Lee (Life of Pi). This is just the last 4 years, not all winners, but all amazing achievements and none of them are of a Caucasian disposition. I believe that this is only the tip of the iceberg, you see, my issue with #oscarssowhite is not the whether it is or it is not, but the fact that Americans forget that the bulk of their revenue is no longer coming from the US, they are coming from an international community. Just to give you an indication. The 5 most successful movies of ALL TIME had the following non-US revenue (72.7%, 69.9%, 54.8%, 61% and 59%). Did I say that clearly enough? That was the non US percentage of revenue, with the top 3 surpassing 2 billion. From the earlier list there is for example 62.1% of $723M (Gravity) and 79.5% of $609M (Life of Pi), so the money is there, even when we take the US market out of the equation. So, if it is just about #oscarssowhite, why are certain steps not taken? It can’t be ‘just’ the money, because Gravity costed $100M to make, so someone walked out with a clean taxable half a billion and Life of Pi left someone with $480M in the end. So there is a clear evidence that white is not the colour of money in the end (it actually tends to be green), but the stronger reality is, is that if we accept that Hollywood is to white for its own good, there is a market worth billion out there and it only requires the right person to pick up the profits.

In my view an achievable goal if the Money Man can unite the right director to the script he deems worthy. Have I oversimplified the problem for those people?

If so, feel free to make a contribution to my Clydesdale Bank PLC account on Guernsey. You see, whilst looking into this issue, I actually came up with 3 ideas for movies. That’s excluding the novel I am writing, which is written as is, with no mindset to either publication or setting it up for a screenplay. It is just a story I came up with and I surpassed 63,000 words last month. I reckon I am half way there now, could be a third, time will tell. This is not a twist to state how brilliant I am, because I am certain that I am not, what it does refer to is that #oscarssowhite implies that those at the top of the hill are not that bright at all, which only gives further weight to the utter need, for promoting what should be referred to as the #NonCaucasianMovieWorld, one that is very likely to bring in billions, because the names I mentioned earlier are surpassing that revenue with ease. Now in realistic light, not all movies made turn out to be a Gravity or a Life of Pi, but many of them end up having paths that lead to a situation where the ROI remains close to zero, making the chance of a cash cow at some point a lot better than most could conceive. Consider the source (http://www.boxofficemojo.com/), where the top 33 (Martin Scorcese being the lowest on that list, making $1B or more (over all their movies), gives only way to more opportunity for those who can see the right path (let’s call them semi-visionaries) and it is only when we get to position 122 when the gross revenue starts dropping below half a billion. Here is my view: ‘There is no black and white, they aren’t even real colours’. There is the colour green for $$$, profit and envy, there is red for anger of not seeing the opportunity and red for those betting on the wrong horse, yet even there the list is pretty long, because Director 771 on the list is the last one making $1M or more, which is more than I will ever make in my life. Now consider the other side of the spectrum. The Razzies gave us what some perceive to be the worst movies. In 2016 that was a tie for Fifty Shades of Grey and Fantastic Four (2015), 50 shades of paint made $571M, whilst costing $40M and Fantastic 4 made $167M, whilst costing $56M. Can you believe it? Making the worst movie of the year still gets you at least $100M, I am so in the wrong line of business!

So when you decide to fight #oscarssowhite, consider in addition the massive amounts of money you could be making. For those picking up that baton, I truly hope it will bring you the wealth you dream of. Good luck!

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