Why I Care About “Little” Films

The Lacemaker by Vermeer

Over at Psychotronic Review, I just published The Films of Slumberjack Entertainment. It includes embeds of most of their short films, so you should check it out.

It’s almost all horror. But it isn’t the kind of stuff that’s going to give you nightmares. They are heavy on the comedy. There is, however, a fair amount of gore. I mention that only because I’ve recently found that most people don’t find blood spraying out of zombies funny the way I do!

Why I Care?

I’ve been giving a lot of thought to why I love independent films like these. Some others include:

There are many more, of course. But why do I care? I think it is because it is ridiculously hard to be an artist today.

Decades ago, I came up with my “Sunday Morning Blues Jam” theory of creativity. It’s this: you can go to any Sunday morning blues jam session anywhere in the world and find people who are better than you could have hoped to have seen a century earlier.

When it comes to film, it’s even worse. With digital cameras and computer software that is a hundred times better than anything anyone had a couple of decades ago, there are a lot of really creative people making a lot of really creative movies.

It’s hard for me because I want to see everything. But it has to be far worse for the filmmakers. The people I talk about are making really great stuff. And few people notice. Yet they keep producing things. They are quite literally the best of who we are.

Caveats

Okay, some caveats. Bookwalter is something of a legend. Also: he hasn’t directed anything in almost two decades and generally isn’t even producing. But he’s still working behind the scenes and getting things restored and released.

And Tjardus Greidanus has gone on to be quite a successful documentary filmmaker. And I also don’t want to forget people like George Barry whose artistic vision is so wonderfully idiosyncratic that he left the business.

Finally, I don’t wish to minimize what any of these people are trying to do. I know they all are clearly hoping that they will take off. I hope they do too! (Admittedly, my liking all of them is normally a bad sign for their careers.) And I have little doubt that their work will at least lead somewhere fulfilling.

Creative Dedication

But even producing a fully developed 4-minute short like The Dog Walker takes a lot of work. So this is about something more than dreams. This is about the creative force that many people feel.

Regardless of what is in the hearts of any of these people, they honor us by honoring their art. And I guess that’s why I care.


Detail of The Lacemaker by Johannes Vermeer — Musée du Louvre, Public Domain.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

3 thoughts on “Why I Care About “Little” Films

  1. >you can go to any Sunday morning blues jam session anywhere in the world and find people who are better than you could have hoped to have seen a century earlier

    Why is that? Is it because w/ a larger population base we are more likely to produce talented people?

    Or because in many ways it is much easier to learn how to make music, people have access to resources (YouTube and the like) that didn’t exist 100 years ago?

    I mean, I can understand why video would be better (though better tools are meaningless w/o the talent to use them), but modern tech wouldn’t affect musicians that way, would it?

    • I think what Frank means is the sound quality is better. The amps, speakers, all that technical stuff. So if somebody frozen from 1920 woke up today, they could go to any blues jam and the sound would blow them away. (They would have of course been familiar with great music.)

      That may not have been his precise meaning. But I do know he’s an opponent of valuing technical perfection in art over the meaning of doing art for its own sake; making it for the joy of making it.

    • I think it’s a question of access. People are able to get instruments. Education is widely available. And most of all: people have more time.

      Of course, you do have to remember that what is normally seen as “great” is really just inventive or new. So it’s not exactly a fair comparison.

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