Friday, October 15, 2010
Peter Greenaway Speaks at 48Hour Film Project Machinima 2010
Not long ago, I had a chat with Chantal Harvey. She talked about the 48 Hour Film Project Machinima 2010 event which had taken place recently. Most notably, she talked about a speech given in Second Life given by noted British Film director Peter Greenaway, held at the opening of the event, on Sept 23, 2010.
Greenaway opened his speech, "I just think I need to express my enthusiasm for what essentially is a new medium.” He noted machinima had been around for 12-14 years, and felt it had enormous potential in the future. But of the entries for the 48HFP, “I have to confess that I am somewhat disappointed.“ He called the majority of them as basically of what’’s been done before, “a broach ... of conventionality pushing ... machinima into backwaters that we’ve all seen.”
He called the arrival of machinima, “relative in a curious way to what I believe is the demise of cinema ... cinema is dead.” He felt after about 115 years, cinema had covered about every area and theme that it could. The movies, he felt, had been made for the masses, and was in decline as they moved on to other forms of entertainment, “cinema (was) created as a cheap form of entertainment for the proletariat. ... Where is the proletariat now?”
He noted the basic model for making cinema was the “Hollywood way,” in which it all began with a script, a text-based medium, “in a way, none of us have seen a film.” But movies were not simply fading away, but being replaced by something better, “I don’t think there’s any great reason to cry tears over the disappearance ... although we’re no longer in the age of cinema, we are in the age of the screen. ... What’s ahead of us is a thousand times far more exciting than what has been by.”
He talked about cinema being a descendant of the theater in ancient times, which changed to theatric displays in the Medieval Era. Then opera came to be, and then cinema. Television came to be in the middle of the 20th Century, but was not truly a replacement for movies, calling TV “present tense” and cinema “past tense.”
“Second Life has helped create a new arena, a new playground, a new examination of ways and means of how we can express ourselves in the world. But I suppose every medium ... is going to copy and ape what has just gone by.” Once again, he felt more originality was needed in machinima, feeling the producers needed to “break out of all those patterns of behavior.”
“I’m trained as a painter. I’m going to be provocative and say that most people are visually illiterate. ... the image always has the last word. ... I’m hoping and looking, and can see the potentiality of machinima to create a brand new and essentially visual phenomena .... don’t keep going back to the goddamed bookshop. Cinema knows it’s weak ... because it always goes back to the bookshop. Let’s find a wa y to break that reliance ... on text-text text. ... We’ve had about 8000 years of the textmasters. They govern the way we think, they’ve written our holy books. They’ve been very powerful because once upon a time, not that many of us were literate. So upon the top of the pyramid they sat.”
Greenaway talked about a “Second Guttenburg Revolution” of the Information Age, saying,”the textmasters have got to move over now for the imagemasters.“ He called motion pictures too text-based, “I’ve always complained that cinema is a hybrid media that can be deconstructed... a combination of theater, literature, and painting.“
Of the 48 hour time limit in the 48 HFP, “I feel ... that one of the greatest negativities in this is you have to make one of these things in a limited goddamed amount of time. That’s not the way artists work. ... But I understand these are the circumstances.” He commented that very few artists truly finish anything, although they certainly stop.
Of Second Life, he called it a place where people could be “building without gravity,” where “everybody can live in happy hour whenever they like,” and “the ability to handle huge rains. ... let’s not imitate the characteristics ... of technologies just gone by.”
After about twenty-five minutes, he was willing to answer questions, or statements, from the audience, “I really enjoy a fight, so if anyone wants to make a response, I’m here to be responded to.” Talking to one, he called one of the most notable recent developments in media was the invention of You-Tube, saying it eliminated the middleman between artist and viewer. Someone asked about getting around You-Tube’s 10 minute limit. Greenaway answered movies didn’t necessarily have to be 120 minutes. Of trends in motion pictures, he noted a study in Holland which concluded the average person was only going to the cinema about once every couple years.
After about 35 minutes, Greenaway began his conclusion, “I think I’ve bored you long enough,” and inspired the crowd to break new ground, “let's put new wine in new bottles.”
All the films of the 48 Hour Film Project Machinima Event had to have a journalist character named Jack/Jackie Schmidt, have water as a prop, and somewhere the line of dialogue, “There is one thing I can do that you can’t.” The winner was “The Lake” by Stone Falcon Productions. The runner-up was “Nihilist” by Grey Matter Films.
Video from Chantal Harvey
Chantal Harvey's Blog