So it happened.. an editorial
"For any idea you can imagine — and some you can't — there are thousands of articles and images electronically swirling around the globe. But that's not the real story. That's not the big news. The word that's going around, the word that's finally getting out, is something much larger, far more fundamental. The word that's passing like a spark from keyboard to screen, from heart to mind, is the permission we're giving ourselves and each other: to be human and to speak as humans."
Chris Locke, The Cluetrain Manifesto
Why are we doing this? It's easy to look at the growth of the moving image worldwide in its ceaseless expansion to every corner of our lives, from living rooms to pubs, stations, restaurants, buses, and our pockets; to see this addictive and mesmerising glare against the backdrop of escalating global problems and question it.
But modern media exists. Commercially driven entertainment - to fill in
the gaps between the ad breaks - as France's TF1 chief once famously
admitted, is there and expanding with an insatiable hunger.
And independent media exists too. Films by human beings about human
beings, which often exist primarily for the purpose of their expressive
as opposed to economic value. It may be to entertain or inform or wake
up or calm down; but cinema at its best works to, in the words of
Philip Pullman, ‘enlarge our imaginative sympathy', our understanding
of things, people and places we would otherwise be ignorant off. It can
hold a mirror up to our nature and show us our strengths and foibles,
our common struggle, and that which is universal to the Indian peasant
and the LA executive: our search for meaning and intimacy.
Set against the backdrop of the new frontier of the Internet, a wild west that has expanded and merged with our lives quicker than some orchids would take to flower, globalisation has become a reality to everyday people. The other side of the world is not just a place from films and the news, but the home of the person you're chatting to, working with, watching, commenting on. The web shrinks the world, for the independent artist it removes the need for a studio distribution network; for the studio it opens up a conversation with its audience which it has rarely, if ever, entered into.
People who say 'these are exciting times' usually want to sell you something or get elected. But they are, and in the small gap between this book’s last edition and this one, online video has exploded as a new generation learns to communicate with each other through moving pictures. It is as if after a century of watching a select few play music, millions have been handed instruments and an open mic. It’s loud, rawcus, tacky often, but genuine and fresh. And in the midst of this ‘global conversation’ as Al Gore calls it, the conventional rules of the film business are up for discussion.
This pace of change – which seems to have only escaled during the writing of this book - will not continue forever, we all know some kind of come down to earth is long over due, and we can only hope it’s at a time when there's still a habitable planet to land on. And this is where cinema and documentary, liberated by technology and networks, can play a huge part, either quickening the deadening doping desire-driven pace, or starting to open our eyes to things worth focusing on.
Yet it is just a tool. Just as this site and our new book is a tool. Technology and communication are servants of the idea, the thing you have to talk about, the feeling you have to share.
Without that we're just holding mirrors up to mirrors, remixing and remaking the same ideas to create a feedback loop that sooner or later will make everyone switch off. Ideas abhor constraints and control structiures. And finally after a very long time, as the world begins a long overdue conversation, they are free.
“We have not even to risk the adventure alone, for the heroes of all time have gone before us; the labyrinth is thoroughly known; we have only to follow the thread of the hero path. And where we had thought to find an abomination, we shall find a god; where we had thought to slay another, we shall slay ourselves; where we had thought to travel outward, we shall come to the center of our own existence; where we had thought to be alone, we shall be with all the world.”
—JOSEPH CAMPBELL, THE HERO WITH A THOUSAND FACES
"Life is not a support system for art. It's the other way around."
– Stephen King