“THE VICIOUS KIND” director, Lee Toland Krieger
[PREMIERE SCREENING: Saturday, Jan. 17, 8:30 pm — Library Center Theatre, Park City]
What I can remember from very early on in the process of making The Vicious Kind was the desire to shoot my film on film. Specifically 35mm film. Even from the conceptual stage, I latched on to the idea that film would offer the kind of texture that a small, character-driven family story like mine would require. What’s so interesting about making movies today is that the choices of medium are so wide and changing every day. Even seven or eight years ago, if you had anything north of $300k for a feature, it was a given that you’d shoot on film. Nowadays even major studio event films are shooting digital. The digital era is definitely here and it seems to be here to stay. The myriad of digital cameras are opening doors to filmmakers who 10 years ago wouldn’t be able to make their film. And while I certainly think it’s positive that less expensive mediums are allowing new filmmakers to be discovered, I also think it should force us to be increasingly precious about the quality of our storytelling. To be candid, I think there are a lot of films that are being made because people can make them, not because they should be made. I understand this is subjective, and may be an issue at all budget levels, but it seems to be especially rampant in the ultralow-budget world. Certainly every filmmaker has felt how oversaturated the market has become with product in the last seven years or so. The YouTube generation has really propelled this movement; anyone, literally anyone, can be a filmmaker now. I think while it can be a wonderful platform for filmmakers with limited means to find exposures, the 17 year old with a funny clip that gets nine million views in a week doesn’t necessarily warrant a three-picture deal. I include myself in this category; in 2004, I made a film for $75k. The script I wrote wasn’t solid enough to warrant a production, and had I needed more money to make the film, the powers that be probably wouldn’t have allowed me to go forward.
When The Vicious Kind got up and running and it became clear that resources were going to be very limited, the question of medium came up. Ten years ago, there wouldn’t have been a discussion about medium — I would just be discussing with my d.p. which stock(s) to shoot on. Now I had to battle the producers for the right to shoot on film. While I was initially turned off by their resistance, the battle was ultimately a healthy process; I was forced to consider mediums, not just from an aesthetic standpoint, but also with respect to what my story really warranted. It forced me to make sure my material was airtight. I even ended up trimming a few pages in an effort to make my plea to producers even stronger, a decision which undoubtedly made the script stronger. Looking back, I think the vetting process the producers put me through was healthy. But it was a process they might not have put me through had we decided to shoot digitally from the start. I had to be especially precious when considering my story because every eighth of a page really counted, especially when tallying how much film we would need. Fortunately I had a great team and they ultimately supported the look I was after and my desire to shoot on film, despite the dent in the budget. I hope that the digital era continues to grow a mile a minute for large and small filmmakers alike, but no matter where it takes us, we continue to put story first.