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The Last Creative Storytellers
by Jay Scott
We see a lot of stories in movies today that are as interesting as your typical Blues Clues mystery these days. There seems to be this trend where the formula is “as little story as possible” and way too much action. It's like studios feel that a film can be a two hour action sequence with little to no plot development or story. It's weird. Ever watch a trailer and know exactly what the movie was going to be like, start to finish? It's sad really.
Back in the good ol days, we had stories. Character development, interesting plots, conflicts that drove the tale forward. Now, we just have a lot of gimmicks. Like movies based on a series of effects. Just toss in some chit chat and voila, people will pay to see it.
Of course, the studios have found out the hard way that’s not entirely true. People will demand more. Loads of big budget films over the last few years have not made the big bucks, unlike small independents that are all story. Those have been doing very very well.
Cycles. It all runs in cycles. Sadly, studio execs are mostly dim bulbs when it comes to this. There are exceptions, like with anything. It's just rare. I think the last creative storytellers have all ventured into the video game industry. What, you say? Yeah, well follow me on this for a second. I was in on this before it became mainstream. I had been involved with projects that never made it, but they were good, and we didn’t sell them short. I wont say which, but know, I know of what I speak.
In the world of video games, they have much more creative freedom to tell stories. And they don’t make chick flick video games. Thank God for that. Honestly, they weave complicated tales and cover everything we don’t get to see in films anymore. Unless they try and make a film out of a game, which hardly ever works. The thing about a video game is all subject. Not just action, but, subject. They put a lot of effort into the set up, the story. The give us detailed storylines and complicated, but manageable plots. It's funny, because whenever I see a really great game, I think, wow, done right, this would make a great film or series, too bad they will only fuck it up.
Example. Games like “Thief-The Dark Project” which has a very intriguing and fascinating storyline, would make great films, but the studios, always playing down to the lowest common denominator, always muck it up. Games Like the fps, F.E.A.R, which is spooky and interesting, yet filled with action, is another. Popular titles, and they have good storylines, but the problem is, a studio will stray from what made the game work and do whatever they want, thus losing the appeal of the original story. I’m sure everyone knows the list of horrible video game films, crapfests like Wing Commander, Mortal Kombat and, say it aint so, Tomb Raider. Yeah, I totally hated those because they made them too cartoony and could have done so much better.
I think, left alone, and given proper budgets and access, Video game companies should take a shot at making films without the studios. They just need to do what they do in games and not try and “make a movie” but instead, use what they know to tell a story. They are pretty good at that. The film will come out of there not being star struck and beholden to the studios. No, in fact, they should spend a few mill and try something new.
Jay thinks Leisure Suit Larry would have made a great movie