Not Arty Farty

29 Jun

“Arty farty” has a bad connotation, suggesting a highly stylized and pretentious work of art.  I also believe the term is used to express inaccessibility, i.e., the artwork is hard to understand.  

I’m sure some people will say Girlfriend 19 is arty farty mostly because it looks and feels different from other films.  We strictly followed a limited color palette and played a lot with saturation.  Also, the film has many long takes without an edit, so some scenes may feel slow.  Finally, the story itself is quite minimal, with much of the action occurring internally, within the main character.

Nevertheless, I’m proud to say that there is nothing pretentious nor inaccessible about Girlfriend 19.  It was very important to me from the beginning, as I wrote the script, that the film not take itself too seriously.  What I mean is that I knew and kept in mind that I was not writing a treatise on injustice or making a documentary about starvation.  Never once during our production did we act as though we were making the most important film on earth.  Please don’t misunderstand, we took our jobs seriously and worked hard, but we did not take ourselves nor our film too seriously.  

My main critique of many independent films is that they take themselves too seriously.  While watching the film, you can sense  that the filmmakers set out to make an “important” film, one that will be lauded for its difficult subject matter and artistic qualities.  Personally, I think this kind of attitude is disastrous to a film.  Some just might get away with it, but most will not.  

Girlfriend 19 is what it is and does not pretend to be anything else.  Some may feel it’s important and some may not, but the film itself does not presume to be.  It simply presents itself in an authentic manner with easy to understand content and a sincere approach.

I’m proud to say Girlfriend 19 is an “accessible art film.”


2 Responses to “Not Arty Farty”

  1. Jim June 30, 2011 at 1:46 pm #

    Interesting set of distinctions. I think the real problem isn’t setting out to make an important film, that will be lauded for its difficult subject matter and artistic qualities. The problem is failing to accomplish that goal. The goal is fine, but sometimes (I think you are saying) filmmakers are blind to the shortcomings ( same as taking themselves too seriously?)

    Inaccessible is a different problem. If you’re working for an audience, you should be accessible to that audience, not proud of how hard it is to understand your film. cheers!

    • Christopher June 30, 2011 at 2:29 pm #

      Thank you for the reply, Jim!

      I’m going to have to respectfully disagree with you on your first point and fully agree with your second!

      Personally, I feel the goal to do something “important” is presumptuous and, at time, arrogant. Let the people decide, not you, the creator. Importance cannot be manufactured, created nor dictated; history decides. Works of art come from an authentic place to create; it’s process-oriented, not results-driven. Seeking to make something important is results-driven, which, invariably compromises the creative process. Instead of an honest effort, you end up with something contrived, at best.

      I am quite a fan of the audience approach. As a filmmaker, I need to think of the audience quite a bit. I agree with you very much…


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