Anyone with an interest in film, whether it is just watching them on occasion, a trip to the cinema or, like myself, have a passion for it, has definitely, at some point, suffered a turkey. This is especially true if you have a Netflix subscription. Really, where do they get some of those films from? It could be a blockbuster, tentpole movie – I walked out of Terminator Genisys forty minutes in. Nobody has enough life to suffer such a turd! – or a particularly bad made for television film when you see an unabashedly bad film it makes you wonder how it got made.
This is more true of major films than of television films I feel. A couple of fresh-in-the-memory car crashes of major films I can think of, the aforementioned Terminator monstrosity and the tripe that was the last instalment of the Die Hard franchise – incidentally, both films starred Jai Courtney, a coincidence? I don’t think so! – obviously got made because they were sequels and brought a readymade audience. Sequels get made because, for those in the business of filmmaking, it is exactly that; a business. Sequels make money. What about other less than accomplished celluloid efforts, the ones that aren’t sequels, that have no obvious audience and are terrible, how do they get made? How do they not know they are terrible?
I remember being an extra in a film in the early nineties. I was just part of a clubbing crowd, there to make up the numbers. I remember watching the proceedings and thinking, ‘this film looks awful.’ Unfortunately I turned out to be right. The film currently scores a middling 5.9 on IMDB. I was an extra, with no film experience, no knowledge of the process, but I knew the project wasn’t very good. If I knew, how did nobody else see it?
Of course, there is also personal taste. The BBC have produced and churned out mildly amusing, but sometimes god awful, middle England comedy fare for decades. It is like watching comedy by numbers, yet it has an audience. The same could be said for their obsession with period dramas. For me personally, their fare is highly repetitive, of not necessarily of a poor standard, it just is horribly, lazily, safe.
Personal taste aside, the question of dozens, sometimes hundreds, of people working on some mediocre project in the hope that it will magically turn out well is confusing. For any budding screenwriter, with their tenth polished draft at the ready, looking to get their work even read by a production company, furthermore greenlit is an uphill struggle if one does not know somebody in the industry.
There is that old staple, the cream always rises to the top, that is probably true. Unfortunately a lot of ‘cream’ is buried under vast volumes of crap.
Say a good script does get through, which obviously happens occasionally, if the ‘creative vision’ of the director or producer, perhaps both, doesn’t gel with that of the writer, a great story can become another straight to streaming non-entity. Many a good story or book has become a terrible film. Anyone who has suffered through We Need To Talk About Kevin can attest to that.
As the great screenwriter William Goldman said, nobody knows anything. Making a film, television show, short or even an advert is such a fickle and tenuous process. I have seen good films that have gained no real acclaim and bad films that have become almost classics. I have watched films and shows – as I am sure many a writer has – and wondered how such badly written things got made, cringing at cliched dialogue and lazy exposition.
I suppose bad writing and acting and directing are needed, just so as we can appreciate the good and the great by comparison. Also, with the sheer volume of media needing to be filled, it cannot all be filled with reality shows and game shows. It seems we need bad films, even if for no other reason that to give me something to bitch about.
Still, I not sure I’ll ever understand how a really bad film gets made when of all the artistic mediums, film requires the most collaboration.