A lot of my friends have heard me rant about the use of orange and teal in so many movies these days. There’s even a great breakdown of this trend by filmmaker Todd Miro here. Hell, I’m guilty of it. Quite often I’ve been in a situation where I have about 5 minutes to light a scene or an interview and I fall back on warming up the skin tones, use teal for a back light and splash some blue onto the background. I’m not working on feature films though, where they have the time to establish a unique look suited to the mood, atmosphere and style of the movie. Yeah, teal and orange are complimentary colors on the color wheel and it is pleasing to the eye…until you notice it everywhere!
A look at some movie posters gives you an idea of how unoriginal this concept is.
Why is this being done? Is it a lack of originality? Is it laziness? Is it that in Hollywood is terrified of risk? Francis Ford Coppola once said, “What the studios want now is “risk-free” films but with any sort of art you have to take risks. Not taking risks in art is like not having sex and then expecting there to be children.” The business model of Hollywood feature films has changed. Gone are the days of screenwriters pitching projects to studios and making three picture deals with their own vanity production offices on the lot. Today, BRANDING is king. That’s why there seems to be an endless supply of “properties” to reboot, remake or re-imagine. Swap out the screenwriters with the Marketing Department. With this you get “product” instead of storytelling. Since all products need to be sold to the public why not dig into the old bag of tricks? We have this property and want to make a movie out of it. Cut to: Battleship. Great! What does the poster look like?
So what is the future of studio filmmaking if Brand Marketing continues to be the driving force behind the stories that are told? Making movies based on existing works is nothing new, but at what point will they make movies based on existing properties only? This is the conflict between Filmmakers and Studio Marketing departments. Both want to make movies, but from different directions. Artists look for the conflict and struggle to create drama that leads to an organic story well told, enjoyed and appreciated (and rewarded) by audiences. Studio marketing departments just want to sell you the latest trend in storytelling. It’s Joseph Campbell in reverse. What’s in store for filmgoers in the near future? More of the same. Here’s a list of the top 50 Most Popular films planned for release in 2015. Notice anything familiar? I hope you like sequels. And reboots. And more crap you’ve seen over and over. And over.
No matter what critics say, mainstream moviegoers continue to hand over their cash to see big spectacle painted orange and teal packed full of the same old story lines, on the nose dialogue and 10 minute destruction porn action scenes that are so CGI fake that by the end of the movie you’re so numb you need a drink to bring yourself off the ledge.
Do I have an answer? Not yet, but the search continues…