The Business of Art

I’ve been to a lot of film festivals in the last few years.  A lot.  I took two films out in succession on the festival circuit starting in 2006 and between them both they’ve screened at about 60 festivals.  I didn’t attend all of the screenings, mind you, but I would say I’ve been to more than three-quarters of them.



It’s taken me all over the United States, from Alaska to Rhode Island, Texas to California and everywhere in between.  Oh, and the films themselves have gone to Australia, Canada, Italy, Portugal, China, South Africa, South Korea and Mexico as well. In the process I’ve met a lot of people, done a lot of press and won a lot of awards.  I’ve spoken on a lot of panels, done a lot of Q&As, signed a lot of programs, taken loads of pictures, made friends to last a lifetime and colleagues I will work with in the future.  It’s been an amazing few years. 
Throughout my festival journey there is one point that has become crystal clear: no matter how much attention is focused on the ‘business’ side of entertainment, the ‘entertainment’ must come first.  You see, there’s a lot of focus in entertainment put on the ‘business’ side of the equation.  Many people are fond of saying, “Don’t lose sight of the fact that this is a business – it’s not called the ‘entertainment business’ for nothing.”  And I understand that.  Yes, in the end it’s a business and all the concerns of business do apply.  We have a product which, ultimately, needs to turn a profit.

But in all the talk of business and profit and numbers and in all the calculating how best to ensure that profitability, a little concept is often forgotten along the way:  we’re in the business of entertaining people.  Making them laugh, cry, feel things and think about things that they don’t normally feel and think about in their day-to-day lives is what we do. This is a business of impacting people on an emotional level.  If we forget that in favor of numbers and screens and Nielson averages then we might as well just be accountants.  
As I sit in those darkened theatres in towns large and small across America, I can tell you which films impact the audiences and which films do not.  I can tell you when the audience is bored or distracted and when they’re riveted.  People want to be entertained.  And I can also tell you this:  when you concentrate on creating that emotional impact all your business concerns will be met.  They don’t call it the entertainment business for no reason.   And you’ll notice in that phrase that the word ‘entertainment’ comes first.  That’s because art is the most important part of this business.  When you take care of that everything else falls into place.


0 #1 Theresa Chaze 2010-09-08 00:05
I agree. So much of television and film is now geared toward selling another product. I heard it said that it's all pre-promotional material. But is it really? Or is all the junk the actual product and the film the promotion?

Digital cable has given people hundreds of channel options. The viewers control their remote and they simply are no longer willing to settle for the least objectionable show. Viewership has dropped off from the originally three networks because they no longer give people a reason to watch.

A network that airs a show, which contains characters with personalities along with diversity of age, gender and culture and plots that makes sense, will suddenly find that viewers can and will once again be loyal to it.

Theresa Chaze

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