You might have noticed we like it when tech expands into new sectors, whether it’s into music or art. We think in the future everything will be connected (we’re almost there) and clearly so does academy nominee Wes Anderson. The creator of greats like Grand Budapest Hotel and The Royal Tenenbaums recently opened his next production up to social media. In a collaboration with crowd funding platform CrowdRise (https://www.crowdrise.com/wesanderson), Anderson created a competition to voice a dog…. Yes, you read that right, in his latest stop motion work. A film which we assume will be in a similar style of Fantastic Mr. Fox. The competition worked on a charitable basis, you could donate $10 to be in the sweepstakes (with other incentives for merch and an option for a $50,000 donation to have an instant role within the movie) with the proceeds going to Scorsese’s film charity The Film Foundation.
Crowdsourcing has been quite controversial in the tech industry as of late with the rise of Kickstarter and others being a method of funding. Which can be great! They can create a sense of community around your product. But with lots of cases of people using the money for inflated salaries and not what it was pledged for, it’s certainly muddied its name to some. So, this is a great example of using the platform for good, but also allowing arts, social media and tech to directly meet. It’s not surprising that Anderson is on the forefront of joining industries together as he’s known for and gained status as something of a visionary. But what’s the big deal about Wes? Why is he so adored? We thought we’d take the chance to have an office marathon and figure it out.
What does Wes do differently?
Well we’ve got start with a little cinema theory (don’t worry you don’t have to get your notepad out) as there won’t be a pop quiz. Wes just does something a little special and we need background to understand it! You know when political types get going they’re always throwing around ‘left’ and ‘right’. Well there’s the same equivalent in cinema. The ‘left’ and ‘right’ are different ends of the spectrum of cinema. On the right, we’ve got typical Hollywood movies. They’re normally action movies with a penchant for explosions (*insert Michael Bay joke here*) and ultimately superficial movies which focus on exteriority. Whereas on the left we have Art House Cinema, usually linked to more European films. People see these as enigmatic and cryptic movies using symbolism to talk about the ‘self’ and other lofty ideas sprouted by some old bloke in his ivory tower.
Why do we care?
Wes does both. You can either see him as the exact centre of this spectrum or he’s director on the left making deliberate decisions to make it accessible to everyone.
If you’ve ever watched a Wes Anderson movie they have a very distinctive style. Every movie feels slightly detached from reality. They typically focus on a small number of simple characters (and importantly lots of the same actors) in modern times, but usually with a distinctive period styling. Every shot is meticulously framed for perfect symmetry (unlike real-life) and all his movies have a similar colour palate drawing from pastel pinks and warm tones. These aren’t just to set him apart – although they have. These warm, calming colours are designed to make every scene not look like our real environments and almost nostalgic.
So why do all these things to make us feel like we’re not watching reality?
These all blend together to make microcosms of our society. The unreal feeling societies and small simplistic characters are supposed to make archetypes, so Anderson can reveal basic truths about our societies. He’s making scale models of our society to try and point out what’s wrong with them! So, this highly stylised narrative takes the familiar faces of Hollywood, puts them in similar roles in his movies so a Hollywood audience is lulled into watching a narrative normally designed for their art house (*insert bunny air quotes here*) counterparts.
Wes even makes this explicit by using tracking shots. This is when a director takes their normally static camera, mounts it on some rails and sends it down a track to follow fast paced action. Think of a camera following parallel to a car chase, or soldiers finally going over the top of a trench in to no man’s land. It’s a typical Hollywood trick to engage the audience in the drama of what’s going on. Wes takes this and uses it on the mundane; a couple eating cereal, a missed train and more. Not the typical explosions our audience is used to! So, he’s taking the standard things a Hollywood audience is used to, and acts as the bridge to other parts of our spectrum.
So! That’s why Wes is so special, he isn’t just bringing together social media and film, but two very different viewpoints on film together!
Well that was our attempt at getting all Kermode on you. Do you think we’re completely wrong about Wes? Should never stray in to cinema again? Let us know by talking to us on Twitter!
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