I look for those people [such as Phil Alden Robinson, director of Sneakers and Field of Dreams], almost 90% of those type of filmmakers are gone. Now, the filmmakers are making the DC/Marvel Comics, all of that stuff. The world of the director being the laser focus is very different now. I’m used to working with the director and producer and that’s my relationship, it’s very simple. When you deal on films now you have a director who’s coming in on his second movie, he’s unsure, you have four producers, and financiers, and they all want to have a say in the score, and there’s no way of doing a score. So, it’s easier to do something that’s huge and impressive each time, relatively the same each time. It sounds stunning… But just saturated and they’re happy, they’re absolutely happy. You can’t get eight people, on an emotional scene that’s intimate, to all agree. It’s impossible.
You might think this kind of pressure only exists when it's a bunch of producer-cooks all spoiling the broth, but in my current line of thinking, the pressure extends to the relationship between an audience and a creator. The door swings both ways far more freely than it used to; technology has allowed people to express their sense of entitlement to a creator's work all the more openly. Neil Gaiman did his own testy slap-back at this when he told us that George R.R. Martin was not our bitch, but I'm not sure the lesson has sunk in.
It's easier than ever to believe you're always going to get what you want, and that you're not obliged to simply sit back and receive something every once in a while, too. The end result of this kind of gimme-gimme pressure from audiences is the further denaturing of the market for creative work — one where the market doesn't exist to connect creators with likely recipients, but to give recipients the kind of leverage over the creator that doesn't serve either of them in the long run. End result: a market that has no midlist, that knows nothing but the creation of blockbusters, that no longer believes in the tastes of its own creators.
Time and again, it's been shown that audiences perk up the most, respond the most, are moved the most when they're presented with something they themselves would have never known they wanted. It's fine and dandy to give them variations on an existing, expected theme; when another Star Wars or another Marvel property comes along, well, you gotta say yes to another such excess. But it's easy to forget that Star Wars was itself once a maverick, a fluke — one so ill-regarded by its own distributors that they were considering everything from recycling the effects into a TV show to selling off its stake in the film as a tax shelter!
If creators are given all the less incentive to believe in their own work, there isn't much of a future for creative work as a whole, is there?
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Other Lives Of The Mind