Thursday, 24 August 2006

Cheap Film Does Not Always Equal Good Film?

The big surprise at Bergen International Film Festival (BIFF) last year was the feature film "Sirkel". Produced on a total budget of 300$, it went on to win the audience award and the young talent award. It is now available for download on, so I decided to watch it last night.

First off I have to emphasize how impressed I am with this production. Anyone who has ever worked with narrated film knows how hard it is to actually make a full feature film with actors, locations, crew, equipment and so on. There's a long and painful process (and a lot of people) to go through before what starts out as a good idea ends up on the big screen. It is close to impossible to do this with a 300$ budget.

But this is what the guys behind Sirkel accomplished, and I have no doubt about the talent of the people pulling this off. I am beyond impressed about these people, and I am convinced that a lot of them will go on to have a long and successful career in film.

I am however a bit critical to the reception this film has got. Because as a finished work of art it is just not that good. I have to compare it with another Norwegian film released to cinema last year, "Sinus". Both films were made on practically no money, with volunteer crew that would work odd hours just to see their dream come true. Both films had stories that in my opinion weren't good enough. And both films were a great success, at least compared to what they started out with.

When "Sinus" was released, some of the reviews in serious Norwegian newspapers were close to not even mentioning what it was about, they just talked about how amazing it was that the film had been finished in the first place. And then stamped a 5 out of 6 score on it. Likewise, "Sirkel" was given the audience award at a festival known to have a lot of good movies on the program.

If the budget of a film should make a difference when judging whether it's good or not, yes, they are both worth top scores all over. My point is that after watching these films I am not filled with the excitement and joy that I am usually filled with after watching a good movie. I was actually bored to death while watching. I was however filled with excitement and joy on behalf of the filmmakers, their dedication, and their obvious ability to go on and make actual good movies in the future.

I have a feeling that films like these don't actually sell the story happening on screen to the viewer. They are selling the story happening behind the camera, and people are loving it. I guess you could compare it to the joy parents feel when watching their kids' school play in the first grade.

The last thing I want to do is discredit any of these film productions and the people behind them, but I think that a film should be judged on it's own as a film, either good or bad or somewhere in between. Regardless of budget (high or extemely low), famous faces or big marketing budgets. All young filmmakers should try to make as much film as possible, to learn as much as possible, but let's watch a movie for what it is.

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