KYLE KILLEN: I have no issue with nitpickers. Any and all issues are up for debate as far as I’m concerned, and while sometimes criticisms point out things we chose to ignore, they also occasionally point out things we simply missed. Awake was a beast to keep track of, and then in the process or editing down to the 42 minutes you have available for actual story content in an hour of television we necessarily excised things that might have made particular aspects of the story clearer or more logical. One would hope that with more time we’d have gotten better about judging what would fit from the start and avoided leaving important bits on the cutting room floor. Regardless, when one notices something that bothers or takes them out of the flow of the story I can’t really say that they should simply ignore it or that it’s somehow not legitimate.
AESTHETICS FOR BIRDS: When major motion pictures such as Ridley Scott’s Prometheus and Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises are ridiculed for their glaring plot holes, inconsistencies, and wholesale violations of commonsense, with whom do you think the preponderance of blame most likely to rest (e.g., the director, producers, writers, actors, or audiences themselves)?
KYLE KILLEN: Plot holes usually come down to one of two things – either the issue is not considered important enough to the story or the thrust of the story to bear addressing, or it was addressed at some point but had to be cut out for some reason (time, cost, etc). The larger issue I think is why it sometimes matters and sometimes doesn’t. Once you’ve spotted a glaring inconsistency such that you can’t engage with the work anymore, it becomes hard to fathom how someone else could either miss that issue, or see it and not have a similar reaction. But the fact that a number of the titles you reference as being ridiculed for these inconsistencies or plot holes were actually spectacular box office successes indicates that while these issues greatly bothered some, they did nothing to deter the audience at large. Blame seems like a strong word, but essentially, feature films are designed to provide entertainment to turn a profit, so it’s unlikely those putting their financial resources at risk would do so if the audience had demonstrated that bulletproof logic was something they factored into their viewing decisions. When something bothers an audience, it tends to go away – for example the failures of a number of films set around the Iraq war made it difficult to find money to make more of those projects. The returns on summer features indicates that plot holes and faulty logic have approximately zero impact on the audience at large and their enjoyment of blockbuster films. Which is not to say an illogical film can’t flop (see: Battleship) but merely to say that logic tends not to be the deciding factor.
AESTHETICS FOR BIRDS: How do you think the relationship between the script and film compares to other broadly similar relationships such as plays to theatrical performances, scores to musical performances, architectural blueprints to physical structures?
KYLE KILLEN: Measuring audiences and understanding their viewing habits has become increasingly tricky and while I wholeheartedly agree that the metrics we once relied on are becoming increasingly meaningless, I’m not sure we know what the next answer is. Twitter and other social networks seem to have tapped a digital well of information about what we’re actually watching, but it’s noisier and self selecting data. I think before we can really figure out how to count people we have to figure out what watching a show even means anymore. The broadcast model is based on the idea that you’re selling an advertising delivery mechanism and if technology means people aren’t watching the ads, then they’re not watching the ads. Pretending it’s otherwise is simply whistling in the dark. Netflix and premium cable outlets like HBO demonstrate that end users will pay directly for programming which leaves advertisers out of it, and I think you’ll see variations on that model expand. Ironically, things like twitter are simultaneously becoming the new way to count viewers, while being one of the only new technologies to drive people to watch television in a more TRADITIONAL manner. When a show like Breaking Bad achieves cultural ubiquity such that one cannot hide from news and reactions to every episode, the idea of storing it on the DVR for five days becomes less appealing. Social discussion creates a need to watch things as soon as they’re released in order to be in on the conversation. The question is, does anyone think the people eager to tweet about a show the minute it’s over aren’t savvy enough to start it twenty minutes late and skip the commercials?
|Mind Games (Premieres Feb. 25th on ABC)|
As for taking more risks, yes and no. Yes, when you have little to lose, as NBC did in the case of Hannibal, you’ll take some swings. And as networks become more narrowly defined and their audiences more specific they can certainly afford to try things that might not have the traditionally required big tent element. But the larger issue is the sustainability of any of todays broadcast and cable models. Always on, on demand content delivery is where we’re going and Netflix demonstrates that it’s lunacy to pretend you need to pay 50 dollars a month for a basic cable TV package to then have the right to subscribe to your favorite HBO shows. But as more distribution drifts toward the ala cart, direct to consumer model, outlets that don’t have shows that appeal to consumers now will wither and die. And many of the successes of the recent decades have come from outlets like AMC that existed and were already being paid for by consumers before they decided to develop content that would appeal to larger audiences. Whether that somewhat socialist bubble of basic cable was actually key to the providing the opportunity that AMC eventually availed themselves of is up for debate. I don’t know what TV will look like after the current structure breaks down. But I do think we’re going to find out.