Pro Video Coalition‘s Eric Escobar has posted a summary of yesterday’s “state of cinema” speech by Steven Soderbergh, delivered at the Kabuki Cinemas under the aegis of the San Francisco Int’l Film Festival. Reporting has apparently been scant due to Soderbergh having requested that no one record video or audio or even take pictures…Jesus.
At one point Soderbergh delivered the following observation, according to Escobar: “Executives Don’t Get Punished But Filmmakers Do: When a film bombs, it’s the fault of the filmmakers. There is no turnover in the executive offices, and the artists are just replaced with new artists and the machine learns nothing. There is no support of a filmmaker over his or her career. There is no talent development strategy so that a filmmaker grows by trying ideas, making mistakes and triumphs, learning from the experiences and becoming a better filmmaker. It is opening weekend numbers and end-product profits perspective.”
And this, said Soderbergh, is killing the occasional healthy push-through of arty or innovative or otherwise interesting cinema in the movie business.
Escobar also reports that Soderbergh “concluded that if you’re a studio then the set-up is working fine. Then he pontificated that if he were given a half a billion dollars he’d gather up all the really good indie filmmakers he knew (including Amy Seimetz, Shane Carruth and Barry Jenkins) and set them loose within a timeframe and budget total and say go for it, make me three films, spend the money as you see fit. But no one has given him a half a billion dollars.”
Honestly — if you had a half a billion dollars to throw into movies and you were looking for at least some kind of modest return so you could keep re-investing and making more films, would you give it to Soderbergh so he could pass it along to Seimetz, Carruth and Jenkins? Soderbergh has made three things clear over the last 20 years: (a) he’s a brilliant filmmaker, (b) outside of the Ocean’s films and Out of Sight and Magic Mike he does’t make movies for the popcorn-munching masses and (c) he relates mostly to emotionally cool and reserved material — his films don’t exactly deliver great rivers of emotion.