Colin Trevorrow is the latest indie director to go from a short stint in that world into the world of blockbuster film-making as Jurassic World was a $200 million second film that followed up his first: the decidedly not $200 million indie Safety Not Guaranteed. This year will feature a handful of directors looking to make that leap from small indie film to large blockbuster without much between, the next notable one being Josh Trank jumping from the smaller Chronicle to go against the odds and make Fantastic Four into a viable and engaging comic book franchise outside the Marvel Studios’ teet. And the one thing keeps coming up, as pointed out in a Grantland piece earlier this week that got me thinking.
Hollywood keeps searching for its next great auteur from the indie world, which it should do … but it’s looking to accelerate the process like an NFL team that drafts some kid out of college to be the face of the franchise.
It’s the one curious thing about looking at how modern directors move up in the world because Hollywood has hit on so many in the past decade that now it’s gone from enough work to know someone’s ability to make that next to hoping they weren’t a one film fluke. Hollywood in a lot of ways is starting to emulate a desperate NFL franchise looking for its next great crop of directors to spring up in the same way NFL teams are hoping to emulate the NFL Quarterback Class of 1983. For Hollywood it was the film school graduates of the late 1960s/early 1970s that produced arguably the greatest generation of film-makers Hollywood has ever seen.
Hollywood has always had infusions of talent but when you have so much high level talent, people who’ve been at the top for so long, eventually their will come a time when they have to be replaced. And eventually, like all things, Hollywood will have to rely on new directors to replace them like how an NFL team replaces a star quarterback at the end of their career. Eventually guys like Scorsese, Spielberg, et al, stop making movies like how actors do. Gene Hackman and Sean Connery exist now in what they did, not what they’re doing, and eventually directors hit that same mark.
Thus a new crop of directors has to come from somewhere in the same way the elite quarterbacks have to. It’s just now Hollywood is much more willing to take a chance on someone who’s not quite as indie proven as others for big budget films sooner than normal. Kind of like taking a quarterback who’s had two years or so of starting at a Division 1 college and throwing him the keys to the franchise as a starter, day one. There is no apprenticeship and no year or two sitting on the bench as a backup, learning and observing. Andrew Luck didn’t get to learn from Peyton Manning for a year or two; he was handed a playbook and the Colts thought “Hopefully he doesn’t run a dog fighting ring” in his spare time.
Treverrow and Trank are joining a wave of guys like Justin Lin, Christopher Nolan, Peter Jackson and others who have been given the keys to the kingdom much sooner in their careers and counted on to carry a franchise.
Nolan was an odd choice at the time, as he had Memento as his high point but was much more of the dark dramatic type than the “looks like he can helm a comic book film” type. Jackson was a low budget horror director who got handed the keys to the Lord of the Rings franchise, which made an ungodly amount at the box office. Lin had a hit with Better Luck Tomorrow and has found a career after that as a Rob Cohen type. Plenty of studios have gambled and won on fairly inexperienced and unproven directors that even hiring someone like Roberto Orci for the Star Trek film despite zero high level experience made a smidgen on sense at the time.
Hollywood has a serious talent problem at the highest levels; there’s plenty out there but trying to find it is more difficult. But a studio desperate for a hit and fresh talent can be as desperate as a pro sports franchise years removed from a Super Bowl and/or success.
Stuff for General George S. Pimpage, Esq
If you want to pimp anything email it to me with a good reason why. It helps to bribe me with stuff, just saying ….
A Movie A Week – The Challenge
This week’s DVD Amazon Rental – Winning: The Racing Life of Paul Newman
It’s always interesting to see projects a director will take. Adam Carolla released his second film of the year direct on demand with a terrific documentary on the side of Paul Newman many didn’t know: his life as a racer.
Carolla explores Newman’s life as a race car driver … the one he was doing when he wasn’t being one of the great actors and humanitarians of Hollywood. It’s interesting and something not a lot of people know about Newman; I remember his racing team but his racing career was never something that was in the news regularly. Carolla, an obvious race fan, talks to family and friends as well as Newman’s racing friends to discuss what racing meant to Newman.
If an A-list actor today raced on the side today it’d be a much larger deal because of the nature of how celebrity has changed. Brad Pitt would have every practice of his detailed in full on a Gawker Media blog if he did, for example, and seeing this last vestige of celebrity not being a 24/7 cottage industry and actual vocation for a large swathe of people is something special.
It’s interesting to see this perspective on Newman’s career as Carolla doesn’t just interview Hollywood types; he does get Robert Redford discussing one of his closest friends’ hobby but a large portion of the on air interviews are from Newman’s racing days. It gives an interesting perspective on Newman’s racing days, as well as his acting career. It’s also a inexpensive rental on Amazon at $3.99, as well.
What Looks Good This Weekend, and I Don’t Mean the $2 tall boys of Red Fox and community college co-eds with low standards at the Fox and Hound
Dope – A dork gets his backpack used by a drug dealer. Shenanigans ensue.
See it – I dig the vibe from it and it reminds me of Dear White People in the same sort of cinematic headspace.
Inside Out – A kid moves across the country and we see the voices in her head contemplate it.
Skip it – It’s Herman’s Head but animated … I like Pixar but the concept looks shrug worthy to start
Scott “Kubryk” Sawitz brings his trademarked irreverence and offensive hilarity to Twitter in 140 characters or less. Follow him @ScottSawitz .