It is impossible and probably unfair to generalize about the dreams of young, aspiring filmmakers. That being said, it is a likely certainty that an almost universal dream would be to eventually make a film, exactly how you want, with a big-studio budget and without creative restrictions.
A recent trend in hiring has changed the career course of many young filmmakers in very drastic ways. With independent cinema becoming main-stream in the 90’s, a talented young director could quickly get the attention of studio execs–for better or for worse. Since then, we have seen countless examples of talented young directors get lost in the studio system.
As mature films aimed at an adult audience have gone almost entirely to the way side, tent-pole films are now the main focus. With new superhero films being announced seemingly almost every week, studios are no longer looking for proven talent to direct these pictures. Instead, what they see as more reliable, is hiring young, up-and-coming filmmakers who they know they can push around.
What really brought this to mind was the list of potential hires from Warner Bros. for the new Superman film. Listed among them were Duncan Jones, the director of last year’s low budget Moon and Matt Reeves, director of recent indie horror remake Let Me In.
While I would love to see directors like Jones or Reeves tackle Superman, this raises a large problem. . While these are both extremely talented directors, they are also very early in their careers, without massive success they do not yet have the ability to control a film, like other bigger name directors can. If they do not have complete control, their vision could be lost entirely, leading to a subpar film that they then carry on their resume.
A great example of this is last year’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine, directed by Gavin Hood. Coming straight from an Oscar nomination for best foreign film, Gavin Hood was selected for this prequel/spin off of the X-Men franchise. Instead of a film living up to the second X-Men film and redeeming the franchise for the third, we got the worst film in the super hero franchise. Not only did it stink of studio interference but it lacked any style or substance. It was truly film by committee. Before Wolverine, Hood was considered a talented up-and-comer, and now has fallen off the film community’s radar.
Rumours have been circulating of Darren Aronofsky’s being considered for several superhero properties. This is coming as a shock to many of his fans as he is one of the only directors who has remained truly original thus far into their career. With Zack Snyder being announced for Superman, Fox decided to pursue Aronofsky even more aggressively for Wolverine 2. As of last week, it was becoming clear that Aronofsky was close to being confirmed.
Many potential reasons could explain Aronofsky’s decision to accept, one being money and the other being the freedom this potential blockbuster could allow him on future projects. This is a tactic many great filmmakers have used throughout their career, such as Christopher Nolan and Steven Soderbergh. In a sense, it a “one for you, one for me” strategy.
The blockbuster film may allow great opportunities for young filmmakers, it does however pose many large threats. An opportunity so big at such an early stage in a filmmaker’s career may be too good to pass up, however, passing it up may just be what their career needs. It is hard to say for certain as every situation is vastly different. We can only hope these up-and-comers don’t succumb to studio interference and allow their visions to be taken from them.