If John Cassavetes, my friend and mentor, were alive today, he would certainly be using all the equipment that’s available. But he would be saying the same things he always said – you have to be absolutely dedicated to the work, you have to give everything of yourself, and you have to protect the spark of connection that drove you to make the picture in the first place. You have to protect it with your life. In the past, because making movies was so expensive, we had to protect against exhaustion and compromise. In the future, you’ll have to steel yourself against something else: the temptation to go with the flow, and allow the movie to drift and float away.
The same goes for just about every art we make these days, I think. It's gotten easier than ever to not only write but publish, to not only draw but assemble a portfolio, to not only create music but produce it with a degree of polish and technical perfection that our predecessors would have never been able to buy at any price.
For a while I believed the problem with all this was that it made things too easy, that it removed from the act of creation all the building of muscle and refinement of strength that used to be an inevitably by-product of mastering the art in question from the ground up. But it took Marty's words here to put the right perspective on it. It's not that it's become too easy to create, but that it's become too easy to simply give people what they want rather than what they deserve.
Drawing this distinction is hard enough that many people have not been able to do it over the course of their entire careers. I'm constantly torn up about it myself. If you give people what they want, then they know they can go to you, and thus you have an audience. But if you give them nothing but that, you're starving them of all the other possibilities that can only be known to you. Like Brodksy talking about Dante, there are things only you will ever be able to give any audience; neither the person you are nor the creation you could produce would ever be conjured up by anyone else.
While Flight of the Vajra was still under wraps, I mentioned to a good friend of mine that it seemed downright scary — unfair, even! — that I was the only one who could ever finish such a thing. I didn't like that, if only because it meant we lived in a world where real creativity was the exception, not the rule. Then again, if it was the rule, odds are it wouldn't get called "creative" in the first place. I came out of that conversation knowing all the more that I owed it to both myself and the world to work on the things that I could safely call irreplaceable.