I know it’s hard to believe, but there was once a time in Hollywood when stories were original, well-written, and plucked straight from the imaginations of the screenwriters & directors. No one had to rely on already-existing IPs/characters, and storylines in order to come up with a movie idea that would put butts in theater seats. No, really…this was actually a thing once.
Recently, however, it seems that this notion of originality is going by the wayside.
Don’t get me wrong, I am pleased to see that some of the best characters from my childhood are getting their due recognition in great movies, and I enjoy seeing the continuing adventures of some fun stories. However, in my opinion, we’re veering dangerously close to a complete lack of original ideas in the world of film these days. I’ve talked before about how much I loathe reboots for the sake of reboots, and this is not much different. I’ve seen so much untapped & under-recognized writing & filmmaking talent out there, and it’s a real shame – in my mind, at least – that original ideas don’t seem to get much of their due.
Why is that, I wonder? Have we, as audiences, become so complacent in our movie-going habits that we’d rather not have new characters & storylines that make us think or identify with someone we haven’t seen before? Have we settled into such a comfort zone of familiar plots that we fear stepping into uncharted territory? I am starting to think so.
The same can be said for creativity. Sure, we all have genres that we know & love, and we typically don’t stray from those. However, when filmmakers (and Hollywood as a whole) get into this rut, it leaves audiences watching the same old stories over & over. Case in point (for those of us who are old enough), remember when we thought the Rocky franchise was never going to end until Sylvester Stallone died? Well, they ended up making 8 of those, and the franchise has run from 1976 to 2017 – yes, technically 2015’s Creed & 2017’s Creed II are Rocky movies. As another example, how many Pirates of the Caribbean movies are we on now? Five? I think it’s time to let actors & filmmakers step away from the same tired characters and branch out into new territory, don’t you?
Unfortunately, it’s this kind of thinking that also impedes creative progress of any kind. When we settle into what we feel is a comfortable & safe niche, we tend to not look outside that zone, as we’re pretty sure that everything within it is all we need. Look at it this way: think about what would happen if you never left your home, simply because you could have everything you needed delivered? Granted, I know that there are some folks out there who may prefer this kind of scenario, but it would certainly prevent humanity from exposing ourselves to new experiences. Wouldn’t you eventually get REALLY bored? I know I would.
This is one of the main reasons that I love indie films. They’re typically “one & done,” with no need to drag story out into multiple films. These are movies that normally don’t generate a whole lot of buzz, but many of them are quite good. They’re usually made on lower budgets, and it’s obvious that they’re not being made for the money, but for the love of – and belief in – the material being presented. There have been so many great indie films out there over the years, and it’s a shame that some people don’t seem to appreciate how stellar these projects really are. Many of these films are the direct result of directors and actors taking big chances, and throwing caution to the wind because of their passion for what they do. In my opinion, we definitely need more of that these days.
All of this being said, I want to take a moment to remind all of you, that without indie projects, we wouldn’t have such amazing films as Pi, Requiem for a Dream, and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (yes, that was actually an indie film). Without recognizing great indie films, we also wouldn’t have incredible directors like Jon Favreau (Made), Christopher Nolan (Memento), and Peter Jackson (Dead Alive). Think of where Hollywood would be if these folks hadn’t made it big following their indie roots. We may have never seen Iron Man, Batman Begins, or The Lord of the Rings movies.
I urge all of you movie lovers to check out some indie films. Go look at some of the underrated talent out there, watch something new that makes you think, and discover the stories that may not normally have shown up on your respective radars. I can almost guarantee that you’ll find something that reaches through your screen, grabs you by the jimmies, and screams, “LOOK AT THIS! LOOK WHAT YOU ALMOST MISSED OUT ON!”
“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far it is possible to go.”
– T.S. Eliot