Well, those weren't her exact words. She actually said, "I wouldn't pay for it but I'd love to see it." It's not the first time I've heard someone say something like that. Or statements like 'it's not the kind of film I'd watch in the cinema'.
It's no secret that the price of cinema tickets are pretty outrageous today. It's not something that I acknowledge much; the only time I ever have to buy a full-price cinema ticket is when purchasing for someone else. Last week I purchased a ticket for friends for The Equalizer at my local and couldn't believe it cost £11. From time to time, I notice the price of tickets in the West End branches of the mainstream cinemas and balk at the prices. More so when I consider then the added fee if the film is 3D/IMAX, as well as if you want to buy snacks. When I told my friend, he asked if it was IMAX or 3D, such was his confusion as to how expensive it was. I can't blame him. I'd even go as far as questioning how many people would honestly go to the cinema anymore if Orange/EE Wednesdays did not exist.
Thanks to Cineworld, for the last three years, I've paid a flat monthly fee of £19.40 to watch as many films as my heart desires. In that time period, the only time I've had to buy a cinema ticket for myself is:
1) when watching films at festivals
2) watching a film/documentary that is only showing at the smaller independent cinemas
3) Supporting a film a friend is in/is involved with (that is not being shown at a (convenient) Cineworld).
The third of those reasons is why, at some stage in the next couple weeks, I will be paying to see Gone Too Far. I've known about this film ever since things started to happen with it as a consequence of a friend being in the film. Admittedly, I was always going to see it because of this and could be said to have a bias. But I do think the trailer looks good and the fact that the play which the film was adapted from was the recipient of a prestigious Laurence Olivier prize clearly says something. Ultimately, I can't say for sure if it's a film I'd have had any interest in seeing if not for that; in general this is something I find difficult to quantify because, generally speaking, my primary considerations for whether I'd watch a film is whether I have the time to watch it. For the sake of this post, I will hazard a guess and say that I wouldn't have watched the film.
With this in mind, what kind of hypocrite would it make me to have a problem with my friend's statement, 'I wouldn't pay for it but I'd love to see it'? The problem with me wasn't her saying that she wouldn't pay for it. It was only just last week I was saying to a friend that paying the same amount for a cinema ticket that you'd pay to own the film on DVD is outrageous unless it's a film that promises a real, true, cinematic experience. As much as I oppose many of the massive blockbuster/franchise films that aren't particularly good but will always draw an audience due to the visual orgasms that can truly be experienced in a cinema, I understand why these are the films that people will pay to see. They guarantee you a cinematic experience, regardless of whether the storyline is impressive or not.
I love cinema. I love the atmosphere, the experience and being completely immersed within it. I can't watch films in my room in the daytime because my blinds are broken (and I refuse to pay to fix them as it was my younger sisters who broke them on a night when my mother insisted I allow them in my room to watch TV when I had guests over), meaning the light coming through destroys the cinema darkness I'm trying to replicate. And I can't enjoy them as much as I'd like to at night because if the volume goes above 30, a phone call from mum follows shortly after about the TV being too loud. I look forward to the day I have a cinema room. But until then, whether it's the latest Marvel movie or a stripped back, character/dialogue-focused indie movie, I always want to watch the film in the cinema and have that 90+ minutes experience of being completely immersed in a film, undistracted in a setting that is tailor-made to the experience at hand.
My actual problem with the statement was that she said she'd "love to see it". If it's something you'd love to see, why wouldn't you pay to watch it? People often complain about there not being enough of certain types of films but when these films come and then they come out with "I wouldn't pay to see it" why is it a surprise? My frustration is for the 100s of people who put in hours into making the film. More often than not, said people are underpaid, working under tough constraints and lower budgets, all because they believe in the vision and making the film happen. Making the film happen for an audience that complains there isn't any of this type of film for them.
But guess what happens when you don't pay to watch that film? The next time someone wants to make that type of film, it's not going to made because investors will look at it and say well, that film came out before and there was no audience. Of course, filmmaker will argue that there is an audience that is dying to see this film. Investor will say that audience doesn't pay. No matter how incredible and unique an idea is, if nobody's paying to see it, it is irrelevant. Not irrelevant to me, of course. But irrelevant to the decision-makers. It's all a business in the end of the day. Same is relevant for music (and the never-ending criticism of artists 'selling out') TV etc. If you don't pay, artists get dropped. If you don't tune in for TV shows (or stream them online through illegal mediums), they get dropped. Please do not mistake this blog as a war/rant against piracy. It isn't that at all. For all I know, said friend could just be waiting for the film to end up on Netflix or terrestrial TV. Besides, on that count, I am far from holier than thou. But that's an entirely different subject matter and, though not a defence that holds weight, I'm not complaining about these things. People are, however, complaining about underrepresentation in film and TV, but then when those things come along, not considering it something worth paying for (but more than happy to pay for the work that the markets are already over-saturated with).
As I said to my friend, this doesn't massively affect me personally. Not to be interpreted in a disrespectful way whatsoever, but Gone Too Far isn't the type of film that I aspire to write/make. There are many films that I watch, enjoy and love that isn't reflective of the stories I enjoy writing/telling. At a quick glance at my DVD collection, the first film that caught my eye that fall into the category of films I enjoy/love that I wouldn't aspire to make are Superbad.
I wish I could offer a suggestion or solution for this problem. The obvious one is a reduction of cinema ticket prices but you and I both know this isn't going to occur anytime soon. All I can hope is, the next time you see the trailer or poster for a film that you'd love to see that isn't your Transformers, that your reasoning for not going ahead with seeing it isn't because it's not the kind of film you'd pay to see.
Currently listening to: Ed Sheeran - Little Lady feat. Mikill Pane