Creativity, The Movie Business, and Being Realistic

People have a lot of high-minded ideas about creativity, and as a result, have trouble integrating their creativity into Hollywood, or the advertising industry. But this quote from Ron Shelton, director of the movie “Bull Durham” tells it like it is:

“I think people are naive about the movie business. The movie business is no different from any artistic medium in the history of the world. Pope Julius II was screaming at Michelangelo for four years; Velazquez painted for Philip II, and the guy was an inbred lunatic. My models for screenwriting and for directing are the court painters for Europe: ‘I need the king’s money to criticize the king. How can I get it without getting my head cut off?’  That is the model. What’s honest about Hollywood is that it declares it up front.

In the fifteenth century a patron would come to a painter and say, ‘I’d like to pay you to make a painting. I don’t care what your style is, I don’t care how you do it. There’s only one thing, and I’ll pay you well: Can you paint my family in the the background?’ And you know what the good painters did? They said, ‘No problem.’ You know what the bad painters did? They said, ‘I can’t compromise my vision.’ Look at Velazquez’s Maids of Honor: He’s not only got everybody in it, he’s got himself in the damn thing. That’s the painting every screenwriter should look at.  I mean if the people who painted paintings and made movies, saw eye to eye with their financiers, something would be wrong. And I don’t say that judgmentally. I think there’s a lot to be said for the CONFLICT OF THE PROCESS. I really do. To make a painting or the movie you want to make without getting your head cut off- that’s the trick. It has never been any different, it won’t ever be any different, and so be it.”

What do you think?  Do you agree with Shelton that there’s value in creative conflict?  What’s been your experience?

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  1. Absolutely agree. The only way you can get around this rule is to provide the money for the project out of your own pocket. (and not many are willing to do that) – Amazing how little respect people have for the one paying their wages.

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