Film & TV

Film-Making: Has It Lost Its Meaning?

In the aftermath of awards season, Jade Attwood and Katie Griffiths argue whether making a film has become merely about receiving awards.



Before the announcement of this year’s Oscar nominations, I’m sure that all of us had a pretty good idea about which heavily promoted, all-star featuring films would make the cut. Les Miserables, Django Unchained and Life of Pi were just a few to make the shortlist. Having seen the former two, I was admittedly hypnotised by the tear-jerking emotion and satirical bloody violence of the films. But these are the very reactions that the films had hoped for, choosing techniques destined to bring award-season victory.

The first film mentioned, Les Miserables, however, did not live up to expectations. It failed to compare to the brilliance of the stage production. Whilst it was enjoyable, the power was lost on some of the actors and actresses, aside from Anne Hathaway who gave a truly unbelievable performance. It was more a case of a film being so built up by prerelease teasers, a famous ensemble and awards tippings that we almost decided it was decent before we had even seen it. For a yearly awards ceremony, the nominations are released a conveniently short time before the ceremonies and are hardly representative of a full years’ worth of film excellence. These films are not judged by us thrill-thirsty film goers, but by a board of members. So who exactly are the films made for? Those who pay to be entertained by captivating story lines and original cinematography or those whose hands hold the films’ award -winning fate?

Don’t even get me started on teen movie awards. If you want a surefire way of securing a nomination or award for best film of the year at the MTV or Nickelodeon awards, think Twilight. We’ve all seen the films, whether you like to admit it or not, but who can actually say that beyond the shallow level of enjoyment there is any depth to the plot or even the acting for that matter? After the initial sexual tension died in the first film, the quality slowly deceased as the saga continued.  Nevertheless, year after year the nominations still come rolling in simply because of the name behind the franchise. It then becomes less important to produce quality because the film is effectively already sold.

As films are marketed more and more on their award winning credentials, milking the Oscar teat until it runs dry, the importance of winning these awards are as obvious on the DVD cover as Kate Winslet’s ridiculous 2009 Golden Globes acceptance speech.                              Katie Griffiths



Taking the Capitalist Hollywood perspective, it is easy to say that awards are the primary motivation of all filmmakers. The BAFTAs, Golden Globes and Oscars are key dates in the movie industry calendar, with the historically glamorous occasions marking  the passing of yet another great year for film-making. But for the numerous indie filmmakers arising nowadays, it is difficult for them to seldom get a mention in an industry that is dominated by world renowned cinema producers and often actors-turned-directors.

There are often exceptions, with self funded films defiantly getting the recognition they deserve. Putting their own money into a production shows true commitment of belief in their project.  Director Steven Soderbergh, ground breaking biopic Erin Brockovich,  focused on a specific desire to tell a story. After doubts over its reception, the film went on to gain numerous awards despite that not being the original intention. What’s more, there are whole sections of the film industry, which are arguably not a part of the mainstream awareness; underground and subversive film circles creating alternative films and documentaries made to shock and provoke reaction. Actors such as Shane Meadows, who has produced numerous gritty flicks such as, Once Upon A Time In The Midlands, is proof of the lack of awareness for such alternative films.

The process of film-making is to communicate,  to express and to put into motion the ideas of the

individual, and like any art form, awards allow judgements to be made and a hierarchy to be assimilated. Therefore, it can be said that some filmmakers do make films to get awards, but the motivation to gain recognition for a good film is synonymous to  the want to gain awards.

Jade Attwood

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