Film Producer Explains the Forces Driving Contemporary
Take a look at what’s offered in media today – did you ever think you’d spend so much time with ice truckers and over-pampered, middle-aged housewives? What about your childhood comic heroes? Did you expect the sense of humor in so many commercials would be so intentionally obtuse?
What accounts for the seemingly drastic differences between what people watch today and what audiences gravitated toward 10, 20 and 30 years ago?
“There are important differences between today’s media and that of 1983 – and there will be noticeable differences between what we experience today and 2043 – but underneath the apparent differences are important commonalities and overriding themes,” says Vlad Yudin, (vladar.com) a Russian-born media entrepreneur and successful filmmaker, currently juggling multiple projects.
Yudin, a writer, director and producer, reviews five characteristics that feed an audience’s media sensibilities at any given time:
• It’s messy and organic. The zeitgeist, or the spirit of a time period, is never fully accounted for by any one thing; there are always many influences, including politics, economy, technology and a host of similar factors. For example, Yudin is working with “Game of Thrones” producer Mark Huffam on adapting into a film C.C. Humphrey’s historical fiction novel “The French Executioner,” which takes place in 1536. Why does there seem to be an appetite for stories set in the distant past? “One reason is that audiences want relief from today’s technology and rapidly changing world,” Yudin says. “The distant past was a far more dangerous but, on the surface at least, a much simpler time.”
• Visceral and emotional content works. Whether a storyteller appeals to the heartstrings of a mostly female audience in a romantic genre or the masculine appetite for violence and action, audiences pay attention to visceral content. One of Yudin’s recent projects, a graphic novel titled “Head Smash,” has quickly garnered traction among comic fans, and he already plans to turn into a film. In recent years, comics have proven to be part of a winning formula for a film project’s success. “Today’s audiences have nostalgia for the comics they read as kids, but they gravitate toward darker, flawed heroes,” Yudin says. “They’re not kids anymore.”
• People aspire to ideals. Human beings have always interpreted gods as ideal human specimens, from the grace and beauty of Venus to the power of Hercules. People who look perfect pique attention, which is why Yudin decided to revisit the fascination behind the 1977 hit “Pumping Iron” with his docudrama “Generation Iron,” which updates viewers to today’s body builders. “Arnold Schwarzenegger didn’t become a household name through his acting talent,” Yudin says.
• Gravitation toward an inspirational narrative. The ethos of the United States – the American Dream – appeals to contemporary ambitious immigrants, including Yudin. People want to improve themselves, and they like experiencing movies where characters start off low, but end on a high. That’s the idea behind Yudin’s 2010 film release “Last Day of Summer,” about a low-ranking fast-food protagonist who finds his confidence. “Most of us want to root for the underdog, even if his actions for improving his lot are less-than-noble,” he says.
• We fancy the fanciful. Ghosts, monsters, fairies, trolls, witches, wizards – our stories are filled with magic. Aliens are a comparatively more recent manifestation that even highly educated scientists believe are a possibility somewhere in the universe. We like to think that what may be impossible is possible, which is why Yudin created “Catskill Park,” a film to be released this year. It follows three friends who document an extraterrestrial presence during their camping trip to upstate New York.