So, how important is design and production in the entertainment industry? Well, to start off, when we speak of the entertainment industry, we are typically talking about a much larger enterprise than we realize. From the silver screen to Broadway, the local news to circus performers, the radio to stand up comedians, there are innumerable facets to the beautiful world of show business. So, with this idea in mind, I will give a few examples of recent works to explain the true value behind design and production.
These days, the design and production of films has been taken to an all new level. I, myself, have never preferred a 3-D experience to the traditional 2-D movie. However, my younger sister is now viewing films in 4-D Aromascope such as the latest Spy Kids film directed by Robert Rodriguez. Feel free to read one review located at http://www.thewrap.com/movies/column-post/spy-kids-4d-stinks-more-ways-one-30257. It seems clear that the over-production did not add to but take away from the film. How much further can we go before we completely forget the real reason we started creating these sacred art forms?
Since I’m already on my soapbox, I might as well stay here. Let the record show that I’m not saying that the production and design of a film is not vital to its overall success. What I would like to point out, however, is that when a movie is stripped down to its raw, bare form and is STILL entertaining, that is truly something special. I, myself, may be a bit biased in this area. As you can see from the layout of my blog, I am a huge fan of classic black and white movies. Give me a film starring Jimmy Stewart, Cary Grant, or Fred Astaire any day and I’m there. It seems to me that if I can find a 1930’s or 1940’s age film as fascinating and moving as the technical and visual spectacle of today’s Avatar, a motion picture’s significance may come from just a bit more than how many special effects can be added to it.
Maybe I can better explain myself with an analogy. The story, content, acting, and directing of a film make up what we’ll call the “cake”, whereas the design and production add the “icing.” Let’s face it, both are needed for a good time! Example: If you walked into a party and someone offered you a bowl-full of icing, you may be pretty stoked for a while. Nonetheless, after several minutes of only eating icing you start to realize you would very much enjoy some cake with that. You start to feel that you’re missing something. You may even begin to feel ill with the amount of sugar you’re taking in at one time. In the same respect, you can sit and eat cake for as long as you want. Further, you might could eat that same cake for hours and not feel the same sickly effects of an icing overdose. But, when all is said and done, a little icing to top off your cake is the real way to go.
I’ve now beaten that idea to death. Can you tell I’m a Communications major? Let me try to move away from the film world a bit and on to theatre. I’m fairly sure we have all heard about the new Broadway show Spiderman: Turn off the Dark. I know for a fact my Technical Production in Theater class has because our lovely professor Bill went on a tangent about this show as well. You think I can get on a soapbox? You haven’t met Bill. Thus, I think I know what I’m talking about when I say that it’s a technical and visual spectacle to behold…but there is no real content to the show itself. Many reviews describe people who are at a loss for why they were so enthralled during the show, but can’t recall any real dialogue or storyline afterward. http://theater.nytimes.com/2011/06/15/theater/reviews/spider-man-turn-off-the-dark-opens-after-changes-review.html. Once again, feel free to read more on this at your leisure.
To add a little personal experience to my rant, I went to New York City recently where I had the pleasure of watching How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. The great thing about this show is that there are amazing actors, fantastic direction, and the right amount of design and production to give the viewer an all around enjoyable Broadway experience. I honestly feel that this show highlights the whole “icing” idea that I’ve been talking about. In the first scene of the play, Daniel Radcliffe “wheels” himself up to the stage in a window washer type seat. No, he’s not flying over your head in a Green Goblin mask while trying to cause Peter Parker’s untimely demise, but he is involved in just the right amount of design and production to grab the viewer’s attention without feeling overwhelmed.
To wrap this whole long-winded speech up, let me say that I hope I’ve shed some light on the value behind design and production in the entertainment industry. Yes, it’s necessary. Why? When you have great content, actors, and direction, you most definitely need great design and technical production behind it. I believe the two go very much hand in hand. In fact, the more film and theatre shows that you see, the more you will be able to identify how over-producing and over-designing an entertainment venture is often an OVER-COMPENSATION for the fact that what you are viewing has no real content or significance.