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4
Jan

Violence, Sex and Language — Style or Content?

The media are full of commentary on the National Rifle Association’s claim that film, tv, and video games are one of the main factors behind violence in our society. At the same time, there is a lot of commentary on Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained and not only the issue of violence in this and his other work, but his propensity to use “the ‘N” word.”

Controversies about the effects of drama have been with us at least since Plato and Aristotle, and any argument that continues to be debated for centuries suggests to me that there will never be a resolution because people frequently talk past one another or focus on different facets of the diamond-like structure at the center of the debate. Read more »

22
Dec

So, Film, TV or Videogames Kill?

When Psycho came out in 1959, a teenager killed his grandmother, and at the trial tried coping that old plea used in ecclesiastical and civilian courts for centuries, “The Devil made me do it.” Seeing Hitchcock’s film, the killer claimed, made him so mentally deranged he was compelled to kill his grandmother. His defense failed.

When the National Rifle Association’s Wayne Lapierre spoke for 25 minutes on Friday about the mass murder of children and teachers in a school in Newtown, Connecticut, much of his time was devoted to answering his own rhetorical question, “isn’t fantasizing about killing people as a way to get your kicks really the filthiest form of pornography?” Various politicians echoed Lapierre’s accusations. But then, some politicians always have.For the last 2,500 years, the most popular and memorable dramatic stories have tended to be filled with sex and violence. Some people have always been offended by this, and periodically throughout its history, theaters have been condemned, censored, and shut down as a result. Other people have argued that, rather than being a danger to individuals and soci­ety, the depiction of these deep human impulses on stage and screen produces “catharsis.” Read more »

16
Dec

Intermediaries in Film, Politics and Religion

As we approach Christmas, it is timely to consider that one of the most important characteristics of heroes is that they are usually intermediaries.

Lincoln, with his all-encompassing mission of bringing two battling regions and two races together into a single union is clearly an intermediary. Oscar Schindler, who was one of the rare members of his tribe to develop sufficient compassion to save the lives of those he could from the other side. T.E. Lawrence, repeatedly went between not only two great tribes, the British and the Arabs, but also went between the tribes of Arabs themselves, inspiring them (unsuccessfully) to have a vision of their own potential as a single entity. Gandhi went between the British who controlled his country and the great mass of impotent citizens who needed someone to lead them. Pi Patel in Life of Pi learns how to cross between the human world he is at first trapped in to the animal world and ultimately into a spirit world. Read more »

29
Sep

Politicians and Filmmakers Follow Many of the Same Principles

The first and one of the most important documents in American history was a press release – something Thomas Jefferson and his collaborators called “A Declaration of Independence.” The actual act of separating from Great Britain took place on July 2nd; what we celebrate as the beginning of our nation was the date the P.R. document was released.

In its very first sentence, the Declaration of Independence states:     Read more »

16
Aug

How to Make It in Today’s Film World

The European Independent Film Festival posted the following interview with me at http://www.ecufilmfestival.com/en/2012/07/an-interview-with-howard-suber-how-to-make-it-in-today%E2%80%99s-film-world/.

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“How to Make It in Today’s Film World”

an Interview with Howard Suber

Suber has been a professor of film at the University of California for 47 years and was the founder of the current Film and Television Producers Program. He has helped train thousands of young screenwriters, producers, directors and animators, many of whom are active around the world. His book offers an overview of the film industry, commenting on everything from the practical issues associated with producing films through to the creative process.

 In this interview, Suber discusses his insightful book and shares his opinions on the evolution of the film industry. His commentary provides an educated look into the multi-faceted film world: what it was, what it has become and where it is headed. Read more »