You Like What You Pay For

Now that the holidays are out of the way, I can focus on one of my favorite aspects of the season: movies. It’s this time of year when I’m in between semesters and it’s still cold outside, I make the time to see as many Oscar-contender movies as possible. If I made New Year resolutions, seeing movies would sit at the top of my list.

I haven’t seen a ton of movies lately, which is a mediocre start to the season, but I’m not out yet. Virginia and I finally caught Big Hero 6 in the theater. Yeah, it’s an animated “kids” movie, but I was laughing and crying and clutching the armrest during the same funny/sad/scary parts as VA. Josh and I saw a few buzzy movies this fall with one-word titles: Birdman, Foxcatcher, and Boyhood. I’m excited to catch Theory of Everything, Wild, Gone Girl, The Imitation Game, Top Five, Big Eyes, American Sniper, Selma, Inherent Vice, and Into the Woods, to name a few. And I’m sure I’ll watch the updated Annie with VA before she heads back to school.

And you know what? Thanks to my relatively non-discerning taste, I’ll probably like everything. Almost anything I pay to see or read, I like. Some of it I love, but really, the vast majority I enjoy and admire. I’m sure a large part of it is because I pay for books and movies. I don’t pay for something I don’t already have interest in seeing. Handing over money to watch Birdman means I’m already halfway to liking it already. Typically, I’ve already listened to the review of the movie on KPCC’s FilmWeek. I read the Entertainment Weekly article on the movie’s principal star Michael Keaton and listened to Terri Gross’s interview with Edward Norton. And this is all in preparation to plunk down my $14 for a ticket. By then, I’m super excited to see the movie and convinced I probably won’t leave the theatre disappointed.

My admiration might also be in part due to understanding a little of how much hard work goes into making anything creative, and with movies, it’s a miracle just to get a movie made and distributed, let alone seduce people into buying tickets. Marketing is a bear from what I remember of Josh’s short tenure as an assistant editor and editor at a post-production house that produced content and commercials for DVDs. A large team of talented and creative people worked their balls off to package and market DVDs. And that was just for DVD sales, not to sell seats in theaters. And of course in my own experience, I’m learning more and more about how to get a book out in the world and persuade readers to read it. It’s not as simple as writing the thing, polishing it up, and putting it out there—not in traditional publishing, anyway. No, it’s a ton harder than that. It’s—and I hate this phrase—a labor of love for a whole team of enthusiastic and dedicated supporters. And for that devotion to a creative project, I’m apt to at least like it. For the record, I like free stuff too.

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