In an interview, French director François Truffaut explained his vision for the future of cinema by saying “the future film will be personal, with the director filming daily fragments of his or her life. The number of audience members will be in proportion to the people the director knows”. It is apparent in this quote that Truffaut somehow had a vision of YouTube decades before it was realized.
It has been more than ten years since making original(?) shorts and “sharing” them with friends took it’s place in the world wide web’s consciousness. But I’m more interested in the format than the social media outlet itself. Over the past few years, from musicians to successful fashion designers, a lot of creative people have been making personal films of their own in the short format (take a look at Karl Lagerfeld’s idea of hommage to Fellini and the Cote d’Azur in ‘Remember Now’). There are a lot of actors and actresses who make similar shorts for the amusement of their friends (Gia Coppola may be one of the few who has managed to pull it off well) in a way that find a wider public audience in the social media world. Most of these come across as highly stylized ads with not much substance, probably having nothing more than personal value to the films’ makers. But they are shared on the internet and are raved about nevertheless. I think the micro short running time might falsely lead people to believe there is a stroke of genius in these motion pictures, waiting to be explored in depth. Or maybe in this day and age of social media excess, this short length is what the consuming parties want anyway.
When the French dance music duo, Daft Punk, released their album Random Access Memories (2013), they did something out of character by giving Pete Tong an insightful interview (normally they don’t do interviews at all). In closing, Tong asked Daft Punk if they planned on making any music videos for any of the tracks on the album. Thomas Bangalter’s answer to this question was a simple ‘no’. “Because”, he claimed, “people watch the thirty second ads ten times, whereas they would watch a music video only once or twice”. I think it is interesting Bangalter makes this claim since Daft Punk produced some of the most original/cult music videos of all time by working with such directors as Spike Jonze and Roman Coppola. It should be noted that Thomas Bangalter himself has also directed two short films with not much plot or story, adding him to the list of famous people who make “personal” shorts with a cool style.
The question I have is, if this is really the way of the future for film (which is micro motion picture fragments energized by chic visuals), is the film format becoming some kind of outlet for fashion advertisement? When you think that we live in a time where studios literally throw away their film copies of classic movies they own (look up Thelma Schoonmaker’s Indiewire feature of this year in which she talks about not being able to find a studio copy of ‘Age of Innocence’), I won’t be suprised by any radical direction the medium will take. Truffaut did see the future but was he thinking something more optimistic or was he thinking about a vision closer to his adaptation of Fahrenheit 451. I wonder…
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Visuals used in this blog post
Still from First Point (2012)
Still from Orla Kiely SS11 (2011)