Saturday, November 15, 2008

Ideal Film Culture in Louisiana?

Several weeks ago I asked several questions of diverse persons involved with Louisiana culture; and here are two answers to a single question regarding Louisiana film culture...

Daniel queries Alexandyr Kent, film reviewer:

What would a more ideal film culture look like, or be, in Louisiana?

Alexandyr Kent: That’s tough to answer for me. I’d begin by looking at the habits of movie-going itself.

We have enough movie theaters, generally speaking, and it’s nice to see the fall and winter lineups featuring popular arthouse/foreign films. It’s nice to see commercial appreciation for high-quality films.

Primarily, though, I think most moviegoers see movies as escapism or light entertainment. There’s nothing wrong with that. What worries me, however, is that some viewers may not be concerned with a movie’s potential seriousness of purpose (or its misrepresentations of society, culture, history, desire, etc.). I’d like to hear more conversations – by both viewers, reporters and critics – about subject matter and film form, and less about celebrity PR. It’s wishful thinking, but healthy doses of intellect and skepticism never hurt anyone.

If you attend theaters like the Prytania in N.O., like the Angelika chain in Dallas or New York, like the Robinson Film Center in Shreveport, they encourage a deeper engagement in the medium. They encourage, but do not force, deeper inquiry.

I wish multiplex chains would do this in a more overt way, and I think it would start by simply offering consumers appropriate spaces – like restaurants, cafes, coffeeshops, bars or ice cream counters – to digest what they see. Audiences often seem to be in a rush to leave the theater.

By their very design, many multiplex movie theaters don’t encourage consumers to pause and reflect, and that’s a shame to me. Look, on the other hand, at how bookstore chains like Border’s and B&N have encouraged customers to linger by adding cafes, comfy chairs and programming kids’ events and book signings. Bookstores and movie theaters are not mirror-image businesses – you don’t have to buy a ticket to get into a bookshop -- but they have a lot to offer one another when it comes to designing an experience.

Daniel queries Susie Labry, an actress, singer, and film community activist:

What would a more ideal film culture look like, or be, in Louisiana?

Susie Labry: I would like to see more professionalism in the film industry. I want to see our culture preserved and maintained and respect for one another’s cultures as we are a diverse culture and that is what makes it interesting. I want to see history and culture maintained and preserved. Want to see more Louisiana talent used. I want to Louisiana music and more sets used here. I want to see the workers work together as family and yet have healthy competition and quality. There needs to be a balance where both Employers and Employees and Contracts all benefit all. I want to see us as Louisiana unique, not mainstream and looking like everyone else. Just as colorful and exciting as its original music and food industry. Preserve our way, music, food, architecture, history, etc.