ONE CHOICE YOU GET TO MAKE, ONE YOU DON’T
Remember that film ‘Van Helsing’?
I was living in LA the year that film came out and thanks to the complete worthlessness of that piece of crap, I almost threw in the towel. Gave up directing to become a cab driver. It was that bad.
I was actually on the internet, doing research on the kind of driver’s license I’d need to get when I got a call from a friend who happens to run a film festival called Dances With Films. She asked if I’d be willing to judge.
I almost said no, but seeing as I couldn’t imagine having to sit through anything worse than ‘Van Helsing’, I agreed.
Imagine my surprise when I did. I saw stuff that was even worse than ‘Van Helsing’. Films that were out of focus. Films that had unintelligible sound. Films that seemed to have cast the boom and the lights as extras.
Let me hasten to add that not all of the films I judged were bad. Some were moderately entertaining and well-constructed. Four were absolute masterpieces, beautiful stories told masterfully well, with powerful performances and flawless technique.
I realized something after judging all those films. I realized that while ‘Van Helsing’ was unutterably stupid, there were two things that explained why it grossed over $300 million worldwide and none of the films I judged — not even the ones that were really, really good — was ever going to make enough money to cover the production costs: 1) it was technically proficient and 2) it had movie stars in it.
Two lessons come out of this:
1) Whether you want to make art or money, learn to be technically proficient.
2) If you want to make money, get movie stars.
Brian Belefant is a director who instead of driving a cab is at this very moment putting together a short film that he is absolutely certain will be entirely devoid of revenue generating potential unless Drew Barrymore happens to read this and wants to be in it, in which case she should give him a call at (503) 715 2852 or send an email to belefant (at) me (dot) com.