Thursday, October 12, 2006

Hat in the Ring

When a label wants a video made they reach out to production companies that rep directors the label thinks might be right for the job (more blowhard details are here). Other reps will often sniff out a job that one of their directors did not get tapped to write a treatment for and then beg/threaten/cajole/bribe their way into the process. This is how a single job can mushroom into an all out cluster-fuck.

Which job? Well this one, is the example I am using. Tony P is a fine choice to direct the new Rise Against clip. I am in no way questioning the decision, just the process. It seems that 30+ directors submitted treatments for this job. More than THIRTY treatments?!?!

Did the commissioner read them all? Of course, the commissioner learning to say “No” would save them some work. Did the band/manager read all the treatments? Did anyone? Maybe they put the treatments in a barrel and pulled them out like a raffle.

Besides proving that there are way too many rock directors out there, this also showcases what a crapshoot the commissioning process has become. The industry standard has been 3 or 5 directors writing on a given job. With more than thirty treatments to pick through – they all must start reading the same.

Labels usually give a direction, for example - “We want a live performance video with the band also playing a role in a slight narrative about the theme of the lyrics (a break-up song).” With a brief like that – how many different ideas could there be? With 30+ treatments – several of them are bound to be pretty damn identical. How does having that many treatments help them come to a good decision. Note that the brief above is one I made up and has nothing to do with Rise Against, but is typical of the kind of direction record labels give out to director reps.

Another problem here is the lack of “classes” of directors any more. It used to be the label knew which directors they could get based on their budget. If they had $400k and up they called Hype, Dave Meyers and Paul Hunter. $300k and they called the middle class group and so forth. The big guys wanted nothing to do with the $225k jobs – so that left the guys in that “class” to fight it out. Nowadays – the difference between a “big" and a “small” budget is nonexistent. If Francis Lawrence and Chris Robinson are gonna write on $200k jobs, what chance do Bernard Gourley and Frank Borin have? I’m not arguing for a caste system, but the consolidation of budgets into one (tiny) range sure makes it harder on commissioners and directors/prod companies trying to figure what jobs they should write on and what is a waste of time.

Why spend hours writing a treatment when you are going up against every other “director” with a DVD-burning program and a Sidekick? Buying lottery tickets seems like a better investment.

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Great post.Thanks for writing what everyone is thinking but won't say.

And please keep your blog up and running.


Strugg Ling,
Music Video Director
If Francis Lawrence shot Frank Borin with a gun, Frank Borin would still have no shot.
Why? Because the concept of the underdog idealist in a hopeless (or fatuous) competition against industry giants is one of the most beloved and condescending plots in storytelling.
ok; so what? is this new to anyone? boo-huuu. lets all get together and commit a ritual suicide.

Damn, stop bitching and go get a job at the local super market.... Oh; you don't want to? I know what you want: you want to write a treatment once in a while, when you feel especially inspired... get the gig... come to the shoot and look fancy... for everyone to suck your a$$ and treat you like a great visionary.. make tons of money and go on vacation while some post house is working on your video and you give them daily feedbacks?

Wake up... it doesn't work like that.. you might actually have to work your a$$ off day and night; and it's possible.... that even all of your hard work might not be enough because you might not have the talent.. but no worries... that job at the super market I told you about earlier.. it's still available. :)

Everyone wants to be a king, a rock star, a pimp or atleast a music video director.... get used to it. It's A LOT of hard work. which might pay off.. if u stop bitching.
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