Monday, July 23, 2007

The danger of "the scene"

It's always exciting when a new scene is discovered in a country. Whether it be Taiwan, the UK, Czech Republic or Denmark, media and the industry just love to be able to bunch films together by style. The stark reality of Belgium and the kitchen sink dramas of the UK are just two examples. Over the past few years, Denmark has been the source of interesting films that manage to find commercial audiences. The figures for domestic films are remarkable: in the first six months of 2007, over 1.8 million tickets were sold - one half million more than the same time last year - and fully one-third of those were for Danish films.

But the inevitable downside of a scene is the almost irresistible temptation to apply a formula. An awful lot of money is involved, so why not hedge your bets by following previous successes? In an article in the Copenhagen Post, Claus Ladegaard of the Danish Film Institute, said the Danish industry was definitely in a crisis and may have rested too heavily on its earlier laurels. ‘We probably should have looked more critically at our own success a bit sooner,’ he said. ‘Often, as soon as someone discovers a particular way to make a film successful, others follow and then movies start resembling one another.’

It's a danger that exists already at the writing stage. All the writers with a few pages of sub-"Pulp Fiction" know what I'm talking about. But trying to second guess what producers and audiences will like is dangerous. The throughput time from paper to screen is so long that whatever trend was discernible will be totally outdated by the time it would take to write and shoot it.

For more about the Danish hangover, check the Copenhagen Post. For news about Danish film, visit the Danish Film Institute.

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