Christopher J. Boghosian is a self-proclaimed “nobody” filmmaker. Learn about his most recent feature, GIRLFRIEND 19, here.
The old news is that “anyone can make a film.” The new news is that “anyone can distribute a film.” What are your thoughts on self-distribution?
BOG: The so-called democratization of film has shifted from technical tools to distribution. The old model of making a film and handing it over to a second party distributor is no longer the only way; it is now an option. Those that still believe the old model is the only way will criticize and, possibly, belittle new alternatives. More often than not, resistance to change is driven by fear and ignorance; however, those with guts and, maybe, desperation, will pave the way forward.
The biggest problem, however, is that there is not a definitive “new model.” If the old second-party distribution model is not an option, then what then? The independent film world is abuzz with case studies and propositions. Gurus are have arisen claiming to have the answers. There are success stories of little films finding a big audience. But, in the end, everything is up in the air; there is no clear new model. Out with the old, in with the new? We’re in-between, so independent filmmakers seeking an alternative often find themselves overwhelmed with a glut of possibilities with no guarantees.
What is your advice to the latest generation of so-called “Nobody Filmmakers?”
BOG: There is nothing, absolutely nothing, stopping an independent filmmaker from making a film and sharing it with the world. That is a very, very new thing. However, there is something that has not changed and will never change: craft. The skill and talent it takes to make a good film is timeless and not dependent on technology. Even if you have a million dollars and a ton of Hollywood connections, you still cannot make a great film if you don’t know what you’re doing.
It behooves Nobody Filmmakers, i.e.,those early in their careers, to seize modern tools and tirelessly produce work. Rather than trying to be an overnight success through a film with bells and whistles, Nobodies need to simply focus on becoming better and earning their audience one person at a time.
Do you think the line between the world of studio films and “Nobody” films will start to blend, or will the divide grow wider?
BOG: The studio world is primarily about one thing: profit. And that’s not a bad thing; that’s an economic reality. Studios are commercial companies that exist to make money, just like McDonald’s and Gucci.
Nobody Filmmakers are ultimately craftspeople seeking to create works of art that have meaning to them, and, hopefully, to others. That, to me, is a very, very firm dividing line. This is why bonafide artists working within the studio system end up disgruntled, beaten and cast aside.
Therefore, the only way the line between studios and nobodys will diminish is if the Nobody Filmmaker is willing to compromise for the sake of studio profitability. Studios will always seek the newest nobody turned somebody; however, they will always demand that they work within their profit-driven model, and that’s the way it ought to be!
When will the goal of the average filmmaker change from being Studio-centric to independent? Or is that already happening?
BOG: Unfortunately, most folks interested in filmmaking are driven by things like money, fame and affirmation. Therefore, dreams of making a studio film will always be just that, dreams, rather than nightmares. This will never change.
However, as more and more independent filmmakers find an audience and economic sustainability through the ever evolving new model, independence will increasingly be favorable.
But the vain motives of money, fame and affirmation will never go away; they will simply be sought after through the new model.
First published in Paris MTN Scout's August 2012 newsletter.