Alone on Thanksgiving
I remember when my seventeen year marriage ended. I was hurting, confused and completely devastated, and as so often happens in divorce, many of “our” friends disappeared. I felt hopelessly lost and alone.
And to be honest, if it wasn’t for a movie, I don’t know if I would have made it through that first year. The movie that saved my life was American Beauty.
I saw myself and my life in Lester Burnham, a middle aged rebel fighting to regain his long lost self. A troubled, angry, disillusioned man who was looking for a life that would provide him with the least amount of responsibility and the time and peace of mind to find himself again.
American Beauty was a slightly off center film with a unique perspective on life. It played for nearly a year in theaters, and as word of mouth spread, this quirky film captured the hearts of movie goers and eventually the Academy.
I know, I saw it six times in the theaters.
When Thanksgiving came that year, I had nowhere to go. As luck would have it American Beauty was playing in a small single screen theater in the little town of Larkspur, California near where I was living at the time. I was grateful that I had one kindred soul to spend that Thanksgiving with, in a darkened, deserted movie theater, Lester Burnham.
It would be the last time I saw it in a theater.
Sadly, because of online piracy, movies like American Beauty are disappearing. Filmmaking has always been consider a risky business, but because of piracy studio heads, like Jeffrey Katzenberg began to see the future of box office success in 3D movies on the big screen.
Now almost every major Hollywood studio is combating the financial drain of illegal downloading with 3D movies, animated movies and “event” movies that demand the big screen experience, over story driven films that fare better on smaller screens.
Unless we can enlighten those who feel that online piracy is a victimless crime, we will end up in a YouTube world dominated by user generated videos and sampled music.
Whatever you may think about art and money, there is no question that money is the energy that makes things happen and gets movies made. In just four years, from 2007 to 2010, film production in the U.S. dropped a staggering 30%.
Aside from the impact on the types of movies that are getting made, consider the tens of thousands of jobs that have been lost. Carpenters, drivers, electricians, caterers and the hundreds of behind the scene jobs needed to make a single movie.
Nothing less than the future of great filmmaking, music, literature and art hangs in the balance.
Without the support of the fans, our rich heritage of artistic diversity will diminish and many creative individuals will find it nearly impossible to fully commit to the work that enriches all of our lives.
Photo Credit: Will Buckley