Monday, March 06, 2017

Capital of FIlm

Film is capital intensive, in the economic sense.

Yet, the film industry was and is often associated with "the left" because of its artistic qualities. Cinema is art, I believe, but it isn't like other arts. You need more than a pencil and paper or a used musical instrument. It takes thousands of dollars to make the least expensive hour-long work.

Governments of all manner have used film directly or attempted to guide the "free market" in ways favorable to their ideologies. This always consumes capital. Governments from across the political spectrum are united by a conviction that media can and should promote the "right" values through cinema and television.

Authoritarian governments have understood the power of film. Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Soviet Russia… each understood film as an emotionally powerful form of art and communication. There's a reason Moscow invested heavily in film. You cannot study film without the Moscow filmmakers: they helped turn film into an academic discipline.

Producing content for cinema and television requires human (lots of it), social, natural, manufactured, and financial. In every system of production, regardless of ideology, it takes people, information (knowledge and skills), machines, natural resources (space, light, energy), and some sort of funding allocation to make a movie.

The capital dedicated to a film, or any primarily "entertainment" medium, is allocated from other places in the economy. In most of the world, including throughout Europe, film is among the (partially) publicly financed and supported arts. Yet even in an ideal world, someone would ask why a film receives support over and instead of better nutrition, education, housing, healthcare, and so on. Prioritizing film with public monies, people, spaces, or other resources means something else doesn't receive that capital.

When we study film, we might ask why it is the capital-intensive pursuit of many non-capitalists.

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