AS: Do you see there being fewer big screen experiences in the future?
MF: What’s amazing to me is that you can’t find a crew anywhere in America right now because there is so much getting done. Maybe cinema’s down but content is up. There’s a film crew working on every corner of every city, everywhere. There’s a lot of work going on. I don’t even know how it’s possible for people to process it all. But the economics of it work in the streaming world where you don’t only have two weekends to establish yourself. So many movies were up against the wrong movie that opening weekend or some event happened that weekend and they didn’t make it and that’s it. They’re out floating face down somewhere and that’s a shame. And in this streaming digital world there are other ways for a story to get out there and I think that’s cool.
My TV is 4K at home. You go to the movies it’s 2K right now. Some people would say the quality of writing on TV right now is better than what you get in a lot of what’s in theaters. To justify the economics of having a theater the kinds of movies that get made are bigger and broader that’s just what’s happening. Ang said movies will become like Broadway. It used to be there was a dramatic theater on every corner. That’s how people got their entertainment. And then TV happened and that stopped. Then Broadway became something that you could do twice a year that cost a lot and was an event. That feels a little bit like what’s happening to cinema. But it’s not just cinema. It’s sports. The stands are empty. Because why go? I can watch five games at home, in my underwear, and it costs me nothing. Or I can spend two hundred dollars and get on the subway and go to the Bronx and get beer poured on my head. It’s a bigger issue than just cinema.
I live in New York and I can’t function here in LA because I need to touch people. I need to bump into people. I need to be knocked down a little bit. I need that friction energy to live. That’s how I’m raised. The world is not that way right now. We’ve retreated into our phone world and fortressed ourselves in there.
Technologically the theater’s got to figure out how to do something that the LCD screen at home can’t do if we’re going to keep going. Joker is cool because I think that the fact that it’s in the theaters is what’s making it successful. People are experiencing this story collectively. We’re both tearing away the myths of ourselves- how good we are or how base our animal instincts are, and also exposing this sense of rage we’re feeling because of the fraying of the social contract we’re all experiencing.
AS: Any advice for people just starting out?
MF: Play the long game. Look for people you respond to to collaborate with regardless of how famous they are at that moment. I chose to focus on trusting my own taste and being true to myself and the films I have gotten to work on have lived on and people eventually did see them even if they weren’t big box office successes. Most movies I’ve designed did not make it the first weekend. But I don’t want to win the weekend. I want to win my life.