Saturday, 19 December 2009

Avatar: Indie hit or blockbuster film?

I went to see Avatar in 3D and it was truly amazing. A whole new magical world was created, and despite the conventional journey and hero narrative structure, the imaginative paradise and extended concept of Avatars made-up for some of the cliche lines and expected twists. It didn't matter the characters and challenges were predictable or that some of the lines were a bit too Hollywood, it was beautiful and almost believable (or at least I find fantasy more believable than romantic comedies, which is so removed from my reality that I think it may just be possible).

However when I left the cinema, I wondered what could have been done differently to bump it up to astonishing. I found myself in a dilemma I've encountered when writing, or sometimes creating in general (work/personal): am I making this for myself (and the niche segment of the population who may share my point of view) or am I creating this for the general public (am I trying to reach a mass audience)? And if I am trying to achieve the latter, then maybe I'll have to resort to widely and easily understood themes and devices, like overly dramatic, Hollywood style scores.

When I heard some Titanic-esque songs during Avatar, it turned me off and made me think that the movie could have been even stronger if more unexpected and eclectic music was used (at the risk of turning many people off). This kind of overly dramatic soundtrack reminds me of the fiction, and removes me from the reverie of this fantastical world. Small fry when compared to Avatar's cinematic beauty, but bothersome nonetheless.

I still don't have the answer to the question - who do we create for? For ourselves, or for other people? And if for other people, how much does the work need to change to reach a mass audience? What did Avatar look like before the pre-screening tests, or heavy studio involvement? Or is Cameron simply an old hand and understood what it would take to make Avatar a global hit; or did he deviate slightly from his original version/vision for the film after listening to audience feedback and studio counsel? Does keeping your artistic integrity create a more authentic film that may be a hit, although not a block-buster? Or does it all become a bit formulaic?

Who are you writing/creating for?

No comments:

Post a Comment