Juan Carlos Oganes' film-making and work blog.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Media Bullshit

The other time I was talking to a good old friend of mine from my theater school days. I have always admired him for his talent to transform onstage but also for his ability to impersonate people. His gift of mimicking with all gestures, voice, and body moves was so amazing that he would defintely win any contest of impersonations on TV or elsewhere.

We lost contact for quite a long time and happened to talk again thru a common friend. Catching up on our own lives I discovered he wasnt into acting anymore, and although his passion was that, he couldnt get enough gigs to live and support his daughter and family. It was a sad thing to learn and after asking him how much he tried and waht doors he knocked I realized it was the very same idiosincracy and complex this fucking TV and media has: racism.

My good friend happens to be dark-skin indian type looking, and though standing no more than 5.5 ft he just doesnt make the cut for a leading man, no matter how good his talents. He would merely get roles as chouffer, robber, drug junkie or one of the yes man of the bad guys. Nothing higher than that. I feel sorry not for him but for this stupid peruvian and worldwide media ways who relies on looks more than in talent.

Time ago, when at production meetings with PR and A&R media executives, I always had to play the part and of course play the game as everybody does, and although I -a personal hater of the "system"- needed to play the cards well and not be soaked in media bullshit, it was hard at the same time stay afloat and make a living. In other words, be good while getting my hands dirty. That's why I chose since day one to lead my own life with my company and be able to make my own decisions from investment to casting and themes. Independent productions give you a freedom that Chollywood (our own peruvian Hollywood in slang) doesn't give. Of course you have tighter budgets but the freedom of expression is the good price you receive. You then make a name of yourself and people just call you.

In my own work I have always chosen not only friends that do their parts well but also the people that have what it takes to bring life to the character, regardless of looks or race. Yes, it's true that some races are associated with certain attitudes and doings but typecasting is to me a live animal left open wound waiting for it to die and not doing something about it. The real delicious feeling of seeing a story come to life is much better than just putting a good looking guy or a curvy model and expeting it to sell. Of course it sells in a way, but the creative process and trascendence requiered to leave a good message in the audiences mind is lost for a more inmediate bubble-gum pop seudo-called expressionism where feeding beauty ego is more important than giving a good teaching message to the public. Sadly, the public has learned wrong so then...expects more "wrong" from the media producers. It's a vicious circle.

Media meetings we had between executives were essentially deals on how to push a project alive and see a good thing come out of it not only money wise of course but also message wise. Most of meetings in the media are not done that way. Most are real-time deals of making the connections, getting a story together with know faces in it and walking at the end of the month to the bank to reclaim your money. Usually the way to talk business with top TV or film executives is to speak their lingo, and their lingo is definetly legal and financial. Sad but true.

The success of a film or TV series relies soley on the damn rating and people hate messages or be told soemthing valuable or to see reality and media executives know that. That's why they "feed" people with what they ask for: entertainment that makes them escape their damn reality with supernatural heroes, over the top digital effects and cheap sentimental moments put there just for the sake of not being told that it wasnt human. Sex sells says the saying. It does because it feeds one of the main basic needs of humans but it also degrades the message if not done in style. Executives dont care, thats why we get to see so much crap on the screen. The power of money distorts the real intention of what communication sciences (where film and TV rests upon) are all about: sending a message. That's why TV or film executives are 99.9% lawyers or administrators and none or little of them have a communications background or media degree.
Our ability to make a good damn film with a good script is basically the main drive for the independent filmmaker, but if you send the script or try to pitch it to one of those executives you simply wasting your time or looking for rejection easily. And that's because the TV stations or film studios dont make stories much anymore.....they make money deals (with a facade of the fakest slogan ever of "supporting national values").

So, scripts or screenplays are reviewed not by art people or filmmakers but by lawyers or corporate magement persons (MBA's so to speak). They dont understand what doesnt bring them money so they reject them. As typical as retarded people: they reject what they dont understand. They are not capable of comprehending deep interpersonal relations between humans. They see artmaking thru their distorted filters. Sadly, they run the show and they are the decision makers of what the whole wide world sees on TV or on the big screen. They measure success not on how many lives can be touched but on how many numbers can it bring to their pockets.

The "playin'-safe" attitude of those people has really made the media world what it is today and has given us a bad reputation of being cold, egocentric and pleasure-driven, when that's actually a choice not a fact of many involved in this beautiful field. They rely on "proven formulas" that will sell and that's why we get to see the same faces again adn again and I'm persoanlly tired of that. Like if those faces were the ONLY ones around. There are more....much more....they just don;t take the time to dig deep or be around.

That's where independent filmmaking enters the picture. We might not have sometimes those exorbitant budgets Hollywood (or Chollywood) has but at least we have integrity and a voice to make ourselves be listened. Yes, of course we care about money also and we expect our film to win us enough to make a living out of it, but it's NOT our main goal if really genuine on our craft and field. Success is just a result and should not be a goal. The process of making art is valuable by itself. Entertaining is soemthign inherent in any film, but should not rely solely on scandals or cheap filthy stuff just to sell because those cliches are what actually bring not only us filmmakers down, but our society as well. The audience needs to re-learn what they need to watch. Until then, top executives will always fall into the trap of formulaic untasteful stuff just because uneducated people likes it.

So, until we, as an audience learn to wacth quality stuff, a lot of talented people will just pass and pass and die unheard of, uncknown and ungiven of a chance to show or teach us soemthing with their talents regardless of looks or race.

I feel sorry for the media, for my country and for all the assholes who insist on feeding the monster of ignorance as long as it brings money in.

In the meantime, Peru is losing one of the best actors we can have. I will play my part at least and with me I know he can always have a medium to show his talents and above all....make his life dream come true.