Gunfight at the TV Corral

Posted: October 13, 2010 in Outlaw on TV, Uncategorized

Last week I talked about television shows. And I felt bad about that, because this is a blog about independent film. But I realized I am being a false purist. Fundamentally, both mediums tell stories through moving images and sound. Outlaws like me are out there making independent television shows same as the outlaws making independent movies. Some of them just keep switching back and forth.

Ever since TV came along, movies have focused on distinguishing themselves from the competition. How do you set yourself apart from something that comes right into a person’s house for free? How do you make someone pay you for water when there is a faucet right next to them? It turns out you can. They didn’t know that in the 1950’s.

So movies focused on spectacle. Bigger screens and bigger explosions.

Fast forward to today, where now TVs are huge and hi def (blech), and the second 3D looked to be a theater moneymaker, here come the 3D TVs.

So what is the difference?

Delivery. Theater versus the house. The theater is more of an experience, with the big screen and the popcorn, but also the other people talking and the ticket prices always going up. And if you wait a few months, that movie is on DVD or playing on TV. And if anybody talks while you watch a movie at home, you can pause it while you kick them out. We all know this, because we all have mothers who keep asking, “Who is that? What is happening?” during the entirety of Bourne Identity, and we’d rather not pay for that, thank you.

Making a movie that can be shown in a theater requires a different kind of effort than something that will only show on a TV. Resolution is a problem, and coloring for the varying brightness of projector bulbs.  So it’s harder.

Money. Yeah, we can say that the most expensive movies are much more expensive than the most expensive TV shows. But TV’s catching up. Can anyone say 24?

Movies are short stories. Maybe novellas. This is so true that when they make novels into movies, they have to cut out a bunch of stuff, and then people are all,”That wasn’t like the novel.” Really? You are surprised by this? TV is more spacious. TV is novels. Case in point, the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice. Eight hours long. The novel, word for word.

Time. Here it is, the kicker. A movie takes six months to a year to make ninety minutes. A TV show will, in the same amount of time, make 800 minutes of content. So if there is a difference in how a TV show looks compared to a movie, it is all about the time it takes.

Prestige. Yeah, but really good writers and actors and whatevers choose to work in TV, where there is a steady paycheck instead of constant second guessing.

For me, what it ultimately comes down to is, who is trying to tell me what to do? I hate being told what to do.

Cause I’m an outlaw, baby.

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