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My Thoughts and Ramblings.

Are You Watching Enough Bad TV & FILMS?

If you're not, then you may be missing out on some very important lessons in the craft of screenwriting, directing and cinematography. The problem, of course, will always be each person's perception of bad. But I'm talking low quality production pieces, not the eternal debate of wether or not Dark Knight Returns, Inception and Interstellar are three of the worst films of the past 20 years... but, seriously, is that even a debate... 

Take Studio distributed or produced films off the list. Those break bad for many reasons, and most of those reasons have nothing to do with the craftsmen and craftswomen involved, but more to do with the intricate and beastly machine of the current studio system. You have to go to Netflix or Amazon and look for the films with the low star ratings. Watch those suckers. Pop some popcorn, sit and REALLY watch them. Take in every moment. 

There was a time I averaged 200+ movie viewings a year. This was before I discovered the wonders of DVR and the new Golden Age of television. When I was at my highest consumption, I had no filter. No judgement. I would walk down the aisles of Blockbuster in reverse alphabetical order and grab two movies at a time... in order. I did this once or twice a week for years. My initial goal was to hopefully stumble on that amazing film that falls through the cracks and had the unfortunate tragedy of only getting one copy of it staring out alone on the shelves of the rental store. The more junk I was watching I noticed something: I was quickly able to distinguish flaws in the craft and technique. 

Sometimes these filmmakers would try new things, for example, like sticking a go-pro on the floor of a car for a "cool low angle shot" and it would just stand out as a mistake. The look, the image, all of it wrong. These films became a graduate program on "What Not To Do". It's important to also realize that you can't judge these folks' particular talents or skill levels. Being someone who has directed a low budget feature film, I have learned quickly that the circumstances that lead to the end result are sometimes based on a singular moment, and in a film, that singular moment gets stuck on the screen with a bright neon sign blaring: MISTAKE. 

I would say you can learn more from the "bad and the ugly" than the "good". When you watch a good film, or even a great film, you are sucked into everything and become an audience member who is participating in the film going experience. A good film doesn't let you notice flaws in execution or breaks in lighting continuity. These things do happen, but with a great film it doesn't seem to matter. All of the pieces work.

The pieces. That's what a movie is before it's served to the audience. It's a rough collection of pieces tossed into the air and then quickly put together under subjective scrutiny. 

My favorite thing in the world is finding those pieces.