What about the roots?
What does it mean for a film or a TV show to be good? Is it good if the acting is good? The cinematography? The production design? The sound? The music? The editing? The special effects? Or may be it’s the directing, making sure everything in combination is good. Or perhaps it’s all about the story, the spine on which it all hangs, the journey we’re taken on that enlivens our emotions and delivers us meaning.
It all matters, of course, and we love films and TV shows made on all kinds of budgets with all kinds of strengths and weaknesses in all of these areas which we accept because our imaginations are captured and we are moved not only by perfection, but also imperfection, and in any event one person’s goose is another’s gander, so regardless of the average views of IMDB raters or the insider views of Oscar voters, there’s no singular measure of film or TV goodness upon which everyone agrees, and nor should there be.
Except … there’s something deeper. There’s something below the surface. The roots under the tree. It’s how the film or TV show grew into being: the process, the culture, the treatment of the people who imagined it, who breathed life into it. And, except from marketing-focused making of documentaries, it’s a world quite hidden from the film or TV show’s audience … until it’s not, until we hear about the monstrous abuses of power perpetrated by Weinstein et al, and suddenly we get a shocking glimpse behind the curtain and we’re sickened and we’re left wondering what system, what moral collapse, what conspiracy of silence was responsible for allowing it to be?
But we know. We knew. The use of sex as tool of control and as a short-cut to success has been talked about endlessly for years, for decades, for centuries, for millennia. It’s an old joke. It’s how Joey Tribbiani got the part of Dr. Drake Ramoray. It’s what Calvin Klein controversially used as a edge for these subsequently banned 1995 jean’s commercials. If you ask, people who came across Weinstein sometimes definitively knew, commonly they suspected, or at the very least they were warned. We knew about it.
The thing is, though, the horrific psychology that drives some of those in positions of power - those who select the stories that are told and then select the talent to tell them - is held up by systems which concentrate decision-making into the hands of the rarified few. And the abuses that such systems and cultures enable aren’t limited to sexual predation, they result in decisions that are morally decrepit and catastrophically idiotic all the way down. And all kinds of stories go untold. And genuine talent remains unselected. And films and TV shows of worth are left unmade.
What we believe at New Forest Film Co is that the roots matter, and the way we’re going to look after them is by pulling decision-making power down into carefully selected teams that run self-checking, self-correcting processes to improve not only the film or TV show they’re making, but also to improve how the stories that get told are selected, how the people are chosen to make them, and the process used for getting them made. Over the coming weeks we’re going to lay out how we think that can work practically, as far as our tests have proved, and we’re committing to improve how we work, constantly, iteratively, and forever.