And another thing: be careful what you dream of

  • And Another Thing ...
  • June 10, 2014
  • Paul Catmur
And another thing: be careful what you dream of

I’m writing this from Amsterdam during another of the tortuous steps necessary to try and make a movie. That’s right, I’m yet another of the stereotyped ad guys who works on scripts in his time off and dreams of going to the Cannes Film Festival rather than the slightly less glamorous Cannes Advertising one that comes a month later.

For those of you thinking they might give it a go, I must warn you that it’s a long road writing the perfect script. Seven years ago I had the initial idea; six years ago I wrote the first draft; and now I’m off to the prestigious (so I’m told) Binger Film Lab together with the director (Brendan) and producer (Fraser) to try and massage the project a step closer to life.

This is a bucket list project for me as I’ve always wanted to make something of creative writing other than just increasing beer sales (as laudable as that goal may be). Several years ago I spent two months living in the Cook Islands writing a book. The fact that the book wasn’t good enough to publish did not deter me from crossing it off the list. As when I ran a marathon, my aim was to finish, not to win, and I considered that having written for four hours a day, two months straight, with just a couple of million mosquitoes for company I’d proven to myself that I had the stamina to finish. By the time a cyclone, cabin fever and a lack of blood forced me out of Aitutaki, I’d produced 300 pages of writing that could pass as being a book, at least from a distance.

My enthusiasm for the movie project was slightly dampened by a recent article from Simon Veksner. The very week that I donated the frugal wages of an independent agency owner (cue violins) to Air New Zealand in pursuit of my dreams, Mr Veksner suggested that the idea of advertising creatives making a movie is passé. He suggests that apps are now the cutting edge of creativity having usurped novels and movies, and that’s what I should be doing. Apparently I should be solving important problems like where to park in town without getting towed, how I can make my selfies look as though they were taken twenty years ago and how I can pick up girls without actually having to talk to them. If only they’d invented that twenty years ago.

So apps are in and movies are just too long for anyone to really bother with. I suppose I should have seen it coming, as even TV shows are now officially cooler than movies. Game of Thrones may be nothing more than a marginally fictionalised account of the British royal family but it’s currently uniting the world’s attention in a way that usually only the soccer World Cup can manage.

I may be biased, but at least movie makers generally have some inner drive to share their way of thinking with the world, whereas app developers seem driven purely by the desire to become as rich as Kim Dotcom without risking upsetting the FBI.

But before you get too excited about your new app providing the dollars to buy Coatesville and the odd MP, just have a look at the odds: if you make an app today, for anyone to find it they will first have to go past the other 1.2 million apps currently available on iTunes store. And in order for you to make any money, another million of them will have to take the same tortuous trip. i.e. you might as well save yourself a few months of coding and buy yourself a lottery ticket.

Personally I’m not trying to make a movie because I think it will make me rich, I’m doing it because I think it would be fun and because I’m misguided enough to think I can do a better job than 95 percent of the movies Hollywood currently churns out. I may well be wrong. I expect most of you are convinced I’m completely delusional. Either way, I’ve come all the way to Amsterdam to find out.

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