“Is this movie cinematic?” – this is the question a sales agent /financier asked a filmmaker in Cannes.
The filmmaker understandably was a little confused by this – what do they mean ‘is this movie cinematic’? She had written a 90 page screenplay, with depth of character, plot and story – of course this movie is cinematic. Or is it?
Technically speaking …
- In technical terms, when there’s a reference to cinematic quality, it usually means some of the following:
- wide vistas;
- depths of field;
- colour palettes;
- hand held or static /fluid camera movement.
However, my thought is that the sales agent / financiers aren’t being technical – they’re thinking about the audience.
- Who would pay to go and see this at the cinema.
- Why is this cinema versus a home entertainment experience?
We live in a digital world – everyone has the ability to make a movie; just pick up your cell phone, point & shoot.
- Steven Soderbergh made his movie UNSANE on his iPhone.
- There are TV series with scope and scale (& budgets) that are far bigger than many independent films.
- There are movies financed by SVODs which are beautiful, feature length awards winners and could quite easily sit on the big screen.
What is Cinematic?
When a potential sales / financing partner references the cinematic quality of your film – they’re really wondering why the audience will leave the house to pay to see this in a theater.
- This doesn’t mean the movie has to have sweeping landscapes:
- ROOM is obviously a very ‘contained’ movie.
- The film does not need steady, slow camera movements – Paul Greengrass has bounced us around on numerous occasions.
- GET OUT and THE HANGOVER: horror & comedy will always be better experiences when you are in a room with other people & there are fewer distractions (& no opportunity to hit ‘pause’).
Is this Movie Cinematic
From a sales /financing perspective, if the audience will pay to see the movie, the seller will get a better deal from the theatrical distributor. ‘Is this movie cinematic’ is asking if the movie has a hook, or a theme that an audience will enjoy on a community level – & that the social experience of seeing this film at a cinema outweighs the ease of viewing at home.