Wannabe filmmakers are going to have to want it more than ever now.
That was Robert Redford's assessment as he kicked off the 25th annual Sundance Film Festival last Thursday, the premiere independent movie showcase that has launched the careers of Quentin Tarantino, Kevin Smith, Robert Rodriguez and Steven Soderbergh.
With a crippled economy and financing money drying up even for mainstream Hollywood movies, the climate is likely to get increasingly tough for scrappy unknowns trying to create something unique with limited resources.
But Redford said his advice to young filmmakers remains similar to what he would have said a quarter century ago when the festival began.
"If you want to come into this business, you need to want it more than anything else in life because it's going to be a hard road," Redford said at a news conference. "It's going to take things like love, and hard work, and diligence, and tenacity, and bravery, and courage. And really to go through that, you're going to have to want it more than anything."
"I think that there is going to be some change," he said. "Obviously with the economics the way it is, there's going to be priorities put in place that might get ahead of art. But I do believe we can't get any worse than we've had. So anything is going to be better."
In keeping with the idea of government funding for the arts, the festival opened Thursday night with the premiere of a claymation dramedy called Mary and Max, about a little Australian girl and her depressed, middle-age pen pal in New York. Writer-director Adam Elliot said the film wouldn't have happened without two-thirds of the budget supplied by the Australian Film Commission.
"In Australia, we're very lucky that we can fund our films through the government. All my films are the product of government funding," said Elliot, who won an Academy Award for the 2003 short Harvie Krumpet. "Our population is only 20 million, and we really do need the support of the government."
Redford had even harsher words for outgoing President George Bush and his administration by saying he wasn't bothered that President-Elect Barack Obama's inauguration next week is happening in the middle of his annual festival. "I'm personally excited just because I'm glad to see the gang-who-couldn't-shoot-straight get outta there," he joked. "You've got a lame-duck guy going out, but he sure has done a lot of quacking in the last while."
Redford, 72, whose landmark films include "The Way We Were", "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" and "All the President's Men" (to name only a few), declined to discuss specific hurdles the weak economy could pose for filmmakers and also didn't comment on whether a positive side effect might be getting cinematic storytellers to think more creatively to avoid big budgets.
Redford said his focus is on keeping the Sundance festival strong so new filmmakers have a place to present their work, however they get it finished. "There were a few years there where we didn't know if we'd survive," he said, reflecting on the early days of Sundance. The thing that saved the festival in those first few years: The movies got better. They weren't so insular anymore. That broadened the scope of the festival, just on its own."
Source: USA Today