The journey home from Cannes was long, but it gave me some time to evaluate the whole trip. The most shocking realization was how little we knew about the European film industry simply because we live in the USA. Even attending the American Film Market didn’t prepare us for what Cannes was all about. The focus at AFM was on making a marketable independent film, while Cannes was about how to co-produce with other countries and get in tight with film fund managers, all to take advantage of government subsidies.

As Americans, most of us don’t understand why the government would pay us to make art. We didn’t have a Renaissance on this side of the ocean, when artists lived with the nobles and exchanged art for room and board. Art wasn’t “marketable” then either in the strictest sense of the term, since your average artist couldn’t afford the tools and materials to make marble sculptures. Art was treated as a cultural asset, a long-term investment that the upper class subsidized. Those beautiful things like the Duomo are still standing today because of this. It’s the best of the best of art. Perhaps the masses thought it was too “artsy fartsy” to be marketable then too, yet it still stands tall and we’re all jealous that we have nothing like it in the States.

So there are still those at the top subsidizing the lifestyles of artists making pieces that will be in museums and archives 300 years from now. These modern nobles run the film funds and the commissions that decide whether the film gets to take advantage of government cash. We train in school to get their blessings so they will pay us to make art. What’s strange is they don’t seem to admit their status as gatekeepers, preferring titles like “fund manager” or “co-producer”. People in control of money are people in control of money. If you can’t agree with them, it’s off to the dogs with your film! Though if you can please the dogs…

Marketability be damned, this is art, and it’s how our civilization will be remembered. So what will be remembered? Will there be a Schwarzenegger Criterion Collection? I doubt it, but for the record, I’d give anything for a future where Criterion published the Schwarzenegger collection to commemorate the beautiful years of 1980-1994… and throw a John Carpenter Collection in there, the best of Sammo, and an Eric Jacobus collection for the hell of it, I’ll up-rez whatever’s necessary. Will Dolph Lundgren speak at the UN? Stallone could do some health PSAs on public radio. And Chuck Norris knows a thing or two about family values. Status confers power, no?

Of course I’m joking, nobody wants celebrities dictating our norms in anything except their specific media. Now if we could only get George Clooney to shut up.

I apologize for being crass. It’s just that my idols, the ones who broke records in home video and at the box office and entertained me as a latchkey kid, don’t get the royal treatment. And when we went to Cannes as independent action filmmakers, neither did we. We’re doing genre films, and action is the most genre of genre. The medium requires a good-vs-evil approach that can justify violence, and to the film fund manager it’s very simple and very dumb, reflecting a cultural viewpoint that’s outdated… something they don’t want their country remembered for. So unless there’s a clear cultural villain of some kind (often action films about independence movements against evil overlords can get funding this way), then the drama film, with its ethical shades of gray, will be the one that gets funded. If you’re going genre, your best chance is to stay out of Europe.

It’s a strange feeling, realizing you’re part of a movement that’s so un-chic. As if my t-shirt and jeans didn’t make me American enough, using Cannes to market our action films is like strapping on a fanny pack and an “I Love Paris” baseball cap. But as un-cool as our action films are to the indie crowd, the burn pile will never be their destination. It’s not 1914, not 1939, not 1954. You can’t just remove copies of bytes. They’re here for good.

Asia, on the other hand, seems to like its genre films. Martial arts is still a cultural side dish everywhere there, and with the right recipe it can mix beautifully with the American carnivorous consumption of mixed martial arts. If you want government funding for your action film, team up with Asia.

In the end you may not need to co-produce with a foreign country anyway. The action genre sells on its own pretty well. I’ll echo the sentiments from AFM more than Cannes: save your money on name talent. Once you cover that, if you’ve got enough cash to go to an exotic location, it can only help.

But if you’re anything like me, the same burning question remains in your head: what do I do? AFM is so geared toward the mainstream studio film, while Cannes only seems to care about the art house film. Where do we fit in? In the next post I detail an example process for how to best take advantage of your position as an indie genre filmmaker.

http://wiki.thestuntpeople.com
sp_wiki_450x

I’m working on the first steps today to get something going by creating a crew page for us as well as a couple bio and film pages. If anyone has a better suggestion for ways to organize this thing, then I’m all for it. Here are some thoughts I had for the future:

– Having an up-to-date database on all action crews from around the world, with cross-membership for various people if applicable

– Editors of the wiki scrutinizing all content so that random martial art clips that aren’t associated with the action film market will be removed

– A “fight network” of some kind where we could have, say, “Six degrees of separation between PERSON A and PERSON Z” by showing who PERSON A has fought, who that person’s fought, etc. all the way until someone’s fought PERSON Z. That’s ambitious, but damn it’d be cool.

– All info on past action crews, like those guys from Greece back in 2000

Any further ideas? Thoughts about rules and regulations? Post em here or just try them at the wiki and we’ll see what happens.

But most importantly, spread the word! This is the time to start connecting everything we’ve all ever done into something concise and open-source.

Saturday December 6, 2008
Eric Jacobus and Ray Carbonel of The Stunt People performed stunts for Joe and Steve Greenberg’s action-comedy “Sexual Tension.” The action scene takes place in a drug hangout where the goons are all working in “booche,” a powder much like cocaine, except it’s green and causes its users to orgasm. Expect to see high-flying acrobatics and some hard falls from Jacobus and Carbonel.

The short was shot on the Red One camera, which produces images with up to 4000 vertical lines of resolution.

Nick Murphy is a long-time friend and director of the Tomb Raider fan-film Tears of the Dragon. He also heads up Spoon Pictures. See?

spoonlogo.jpg

As a guerilla filmmaker, Nick’s been known to take some big risks, and one of those risks will be interviewing Eric (me, that’s… me) on Friday LIVE on the internet. The best part: you can all call in and ask me questions about any of the six things I know (3 of them being Undercut, Contour, and Dogs of Chinatown, and the other 3 relating to food), or you can just make fun of me and bring up incriminating stories from the past.

Whatever it is, if you’re reading this, I probably know you and I’d love to hear you call in or chat. Here’s all the info you need:

www.nowlive.com/SpoonPicturesRadio
Sign up and you can chat during the interview as well
Friday, Feb 15 @ 8pm

Call-in phone # is 1-818-572-9021
Enter code 268661 (Follow Instructions)

And if you ever get the chance, check out Tears of the Dragon. Andy Leung and I have a fight in there somewhere. Keith Carter from Contour also has a large role.

On location for Tears of the Dragon