(N.B.C.)The Ethics of the Film Industry

By Charles Broad

 

Philosophy can be involved within the dealings of morals, principles and ethics and what constitutes these. I would like to write about ethics within the film industry which are pretty ridiculous if non-existence. I feel very personally that film is an art form. Although is it possible to say that especially in film or any other art some artists are better than others as some directors are better (e.g. John Ford, Stanley Kubrick) than others (e.g. Uwe Boll).

 

One thing that stands at the moral or philosophy of art within the film industry is the decision involving editing and cutting a film, cuts by the director and cuts by the studio that finance the films. Orson Welles once said “the whole eloquence of cinema is that it’s achieved in the editing room”, but he also said “it is through editing that a film can be brought to life or destroyed”. What he said then still rings true today. Welles himself was famous for the fact he rarely had final cut over many of his own films due to complaints either by the studio or the devil of cinema test screenings.

 

Test screenings are used to preview a rough cut (rough not complete or refined but rough, thus not definitive) of a film then give cards to people to write and select if a film was “excellent”, “good” or “bad”. Despite the director in charge, no matter how good or bad, test screenings and worried studio executives seem to kill the chance of any film being all that it can be.

 

A recent example is a science fiction titled Babylon A.D. directed by Mathieu Kassovitz. The film was suppose a rather science fiction film with themes of about refugees and challenging perspectives. The film was re-edited before release and cut by 17 minutes, according to Kassovitz “the movie is supposed to teach us that the education of our children will mean the future of our planet. All the action scenes had a goal: They were supposed to be driven by either a metaphysical point of view or experience for the characters… instead parts of the movie are like a bad episode of 24, Fox was just trying to get a PG-13 movie. I’m ready to go to war against them, but I can’t because they don’t give a shit.”

 

I shall end my little essay with a quote from Ridley Scott who himself has had his films re-edited by the studio: “if you have a maniac doing my job of course you need test screenings just to make sure they haven’t screwed everything up, but for someone like me who has had a lot of experience we should be trusted to know what audiences will like and what they won’t”.

 

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