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in Filmmaking
on Mar 11, 2008

Over at his CinemaTech blog, Scott Kirsner responds responds to an article in the Wall Street Journal by Joe Morgenstern entitled “Size Matters.” In the article, Morgenstern questions whether the viewing medium of handheld devices will lead to artistic cinematic innovation and seems to think it will not.

I’m incredibly interested in this subject and will be writing more on it in the future. I said at my SXSW panel that I’m mystified why more independent filmmakers haven’t tried to create innovative content for the web, but, unlike Morgenstern, I don’t think the answer is because the medium of the web limits creativity. Kirsner feels the same way, and prints his response to Morgenstern:

I was bothered by your blanket dismissal of the possibility that new technologies like the iPod and cell phone might eventually give us a new kind of artist. (“No one has any illusions that the new media, in their current configurations, will create new Coppolas, Altmans or Renoirs.”)

I think that if one were a theater critic in the 1890s, one would’ve had to say the same thing about film. The first movies shown in the first Kinetoscope Parlor (it opened in 1894 on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan) were amateurish compared to the sophisticated theatrical offerings of the day. Among them were “Roosters,” “Barber Shop,” and “Wrestling” — pretty much pointless (except for showing off Edison’s new technology), and certainly plotless. They were silent, short, and in black-and-white, while theater offered speech, color, and music stretching over the course of an entire evening.

There’s more of Kirsner’s response at the link, and the dialogue is continuing in his comments section.

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