Special Feature: Risky Business

With world economics in a sorry state and arts funding being cut left right and centre you may think it absurd of me to suggest that any good could come of it all. It is my (perhaps controversial) opinion that in the majority of cases if a film has more money at its disposal the artistry behind it becomes lazy.

Cash is senselessly pumped into elaborate action set pieces and fashionable stars rather than character development or dialogue. It appears as though cinema is on something of a downward spiral and I am beginning to think that an axe to the budget may provide the perfect solution, forcing directors and producers to think outside the blockbuster box. Unfortunately, profit is the name of the game and big box-office takings automatically equal a throng of disappointingly slap-dash sequels. This trend is seen time and time again and though it is an issue which has already been heavily debated, sadly it is still as relevant today as ever.

For example, take the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean film: On Stranger Tides (2011). It recently surprised audiences and critics alike simply because it was not as awful as anticipated. The two previous sequels were undeniable horrific, for numerous reasons, and had they stopped at the first film, with its comparatively modest budget ($110,000,000 less than the original PotC film), our memory of the fun, adventure frolic would have remained untainted.

How tragic however, that the state of cinema has caused our expectations to be so low that we are actually grateful for mediocrity. And with the possibility of a Jurassic Park 4 yet again being discussed within the industry, it seems that we are destined to repeat the same desperate pattern yet again.

One of 2010’s biggest box office hits, Christopher Nolan’s mind-bending Inception (2010), does work counter to my argument; taking full advantage of its gigantic budget by investing in an exceptional cast and breathtakingly innovative effects. Inception has been commended by critics such as Mark Kermode for not talking down to the mainstream audience; giving us the fast paced thrills we desire coupled with a complex plot that involves serious contemplation. Sadly, Inception is something of an exception.

Allow me to point you towards Gareth Edwards’ sci-fi creation Monsters (2010). This film was made for a meager $800,000 (I’d assume around the same amount as was spent on Johnny Depp’s dreadlocks in POTC) and the impressive alien effects were created in the director’s own bedroom, using equipment that any budding filmmaker can purchase for a few thousand pounds. The film was a success.

When it comes to filmmaking it is my belief that poverty fosters creativity. Perhaps less money will result in a departure from the unfortunate rut that cinema seems to be stuck in, and hopefully those at the top will stop subjecting us to mindless nonsense which is forgotten before our folding seats are even cold. 

Maxine Bodicoat