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April 5, 2013

The quest for an All Out Entertainer

Without creative labour, making an “entertainer movie” is redundant. It only portrays the want of a hit rather than a desire to create a  product of creative inspiration for the audience.

Every time a big budget film fails at the box office, the film fraternity feels the pangs. Friends and foes alike, in production camps and houses, mourn the losses to the industry. Sure it is called the entertainment business, but it could just as well be called the “hit business”. Everyone from the producer to the exhibitor wants a hit. We can blame it on the addictive rush of success and adulation or the power of big money. This want is more evident if they have had a hit in the past. A hit movie is the currency of the movie business and essential for its survival. It is this desperation that gives birth to the idea of the “all out entertainer”– the notion that everything apart from the entertainment factor is unimportant for a movie.

Film

How exactly would one define entertainment? If we look at the industries that fall under the umbrella of the entertainment business today, we can safely conclude that there are multiple ways the consumer chooses to be entertained and these ways are constantly evolving. Then isn’t entertainment a product — a sort of an artistic work, meeting a consumer’s mind? Doesn’t this make entertainment a highly dynamic and elusive objective? Therefore, setting out to entertain with little apart from merely the will to entertain, is a vain exercise. A bit like putting the cart ahead of the horse.

Entertainment is the craft of leaving the consumer with a sense of satisfaction, while asking for their time and money. Most of us in the movie business entertain by telling stories to our audiences. Stories that relieve them from themselves — stories that hold, engage and involve. While the technicians put in hours of sleepless nights and slave over the parameters of the visuals and sound, the creative writers and directors envision parallel worlds for the viewer — capturing breathtaking images and creating intimate sounds. All the collaborating artists and craftsmen on a project dig deep to find something that will captivate the audience — a new perspective, a distant memory or an old secret.

On the other hand, creating an entertainer or a project (in common film industry parlance) is mostly about logistics and market trends, an endeavour with no soul but fanfare. Ironically, it then becomes unfair to expect the entertainer to entertain in the true sense of the word. Without creative labour, making an “entertainer movie” is redundant. It only portrays the want of a hit rather than a desire to create a  product of creative inspiration for the audience. Many leading makers of All Out Entertainers are terrified of failure, which is the reason why they make only those kind of movies. They shy away from taking a risk or putting in the hard work required to portray their own creative voice onto the big screen.

Movie making is so much more more than just merely using a film star, the story of an old successful movie with the added flavoring of personal quirks. Our main strength in the movie business is in our stories, performances, visuals and the music. They require intensive and rigourous work and when this work is appreciated — the film gets an immediate reward with audience adulation and the tag of an entertainer. A large percentage of successful and memorable films in the history of cinema are not the ones that were consciously made as all out entertainers. They were results of labour and the love for the craft of movie making. Everybody knows that movie making is not like any other business and there is no formula for success in it. While All Out Entertainers often score big at the box office, it can be attributed to freshness in story telling or the box office draw of a leading star.

A movie stands a better chance of being a success and an entertainer in the true sense, if it is nurtured and given the honest and sincere hard work that it deserves pre- and post-production. If all the ingenuity and resources that go into putting together an entertainer were to be reigned into telling a good story, we would have entertainment anyway. More than hundred people labour for months to realise the vision of the producer and the director. If that vision is fixated on the fear of failure, success is bound to be lost. It is simple logic: we create the movie, the movie creates entertainment.

In this day and age, the audio visual medium is exploding with ideas. Television and internet are daily discovering people who are talented and committed to the cause of movie making. People, who have confidence in their ideas and their work, who don’t just want to bring the audience to the film but send the film home with them, for years to come. These are people who can be called true entertainers because they are ready to go all out and risk everything they have laboured over, just to win the audience. It is here that movie budgets should be spent — in finding new creative voices.

Photo: Tim Ellis


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