Figgis Stabs Studio System in Shooters Miracle
Outspoken Hollywood director Mike Figgis has told indie filmmaker organisation Shooting People that they represent the way forward in filmmaking. He went on to ilustrate how the UK film bottleneck could be made easier at a stroke by doubling the number of distributors. Figgis, a patron of Shooting People, was speaking at a recent gathering of Shooters in London, where he told them just what he thought about studio-dominated industry and why he was backing the Shooters' approach to filmmaking.
Figgis was talking over the microphone at a packed Shooters party, one of the organisaton's regular get-togethers in a London club. The filmmakers warmed to the director's comments.
"Shooting People is right. To me they represent exactly the way forward. I have been very clear about this whenever I speak about filmmaking. I think the studio system is completely fucked up, completely and utterly fucked up," Figgis said.
THE HOLLYWOOD PIMP
"Unfortunately it is like a big fat old pimp. Until it actually keels over from over- consumption, or poverty or something, it will continue to be around. The idea of a revolution where that will disappear properly, is not realistic."
Figgis then went on to give the crow of Shooters advice on how to handle the situation that they find themselves in.
"I always maintain that the correct way to deal with that is actually to ignore it completely, " Figgis maintained. "Set up an organisation like this that first of all deals with how do you make films? How do you bring people together?"
The maverick Brit director went on by comparing informality and fun of a Shooters party, with more conventional industry gatherings.
"If this was a conventional film evening there would be the tables and there would be the airline food, there would be the speeches. There would be everyone telling everybody how fucking great they all were and how much they all love each other, Figgis maintained, before explaining why that was so much of a false front.
STAB IN THE BACK INDUSTRY
"As Mel Gibson once said, when you feel the knife going in between the shoulder blades you just smile," he said, "And wait for the knife to come into your hands, so you can plunge it into somebody else."
Figgis suggested this was perhaps not the healthiest way to move forward in what is supposed to be an art form.
"I find myself living a double life. I am actually trying to get a job in order the fund the filmmaking that I enjoy. I am finding it really, really difficult as time passes to blag my way through yet another meeting and talk about how delighted I am with the choice of 10 actors in the world that would be perfect for this film. That gets harder and harder."
He went on to explain the Figgis alternative -, the self-prescribed cure that planned to take in order to move forward using digital filmmaking techniques that made the whole creative process much more personal.
"My ambition is to make a feature film by myself and a couple of actors and you know some crew but not too many.. because I have found that one of the things that has happened in the last 5 years is, once you start using digital equipment and stuff just gets smaller and smaller you have a different relationship with the actors, you have a different relationship to the film making process and it gets closer to writing a novel, it gets closer to making a painting."
Figgis was seen to be limping and explained he had been officially out of action following an injury, but while resting up, he had also been creative.
"All the other art forms function in a more private way. We think we need thousands of people. We don't. and so I have quietly been... well I broke my leg on March 1st and I am still limping and so you know... that should have put me out of action," Figgis said.
"In fact, I have made about four very small films which someone may see one day. I don't know, it doesn't really matter to me," the director reported.
WHEN THE GOING GETS TOUGH....
Aware of the struggles many of his audience have in financing their own work, he raised laughter from an audience sympathetic to the efforts struggling film directors have to make to finance their projects.
"As I say, I am trying to get a job and there is no one here tonight that can help me with that - its just the wrong fucking people thank God!"
TOP SHOOTER TRIBUTE
The Shooting people patron then turned attention towards Jess Search and Cath Le Couter, Shooting People founders and conducted a show-of-hands industry poll among the Shooters present.
"I would like to say a huge, huge thank you to Cath and Jess for having the kind of energy, the lack of cynicism, the forward thinking, the ambition, for all this. I was just mentioning a little bit earlier, the realisation that the REAL struggle is distribution."
INDUSTRY STRAW POLL
The outspoken director then started his audience poll.
"I would like to ask the audience a question. Hands up everybody that wants to be a distributor?"
A couple of hands were raised in response. He went on;
"No! Its funny that isn't it? Not a single fucking hand has gone up! No.. there's one.. Bring that man forward...! Who wants to be a director? [lots of hands] Who wants to be a producer?" [lots of hands]
"Who is an actor?" [lots of hands]
Figgis then went back to his original audience question.
"And the same question again. Hands up everybody that wants to be a distributor? Another one now!" he quipped. "We have two! We have just doubled the number of distributors in this room. It's like the loaves and the fishes," he quipped again. "One more time, who wants to be a distributor - its increasing... it's a miracle... it's a fucking miracle - and it's the only way forward. We we need more distributors," he emphasised, and ended with a flourish; "Thank you."