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Ken Burns on Storytelling: 'All Story is Manipulation'

05.20.12 @ 1:10AM Tags : , ,

Speaking of making storytelling a priority over camera tests, Ken Burns is in a league of his own when it comes to filmmaking. His documentaries are widely known and his visual techniques have been adopted by countless productions, so much so that panning and zooming into a still image has been dubbed the “Ken Burns Effect.” For once, however, the lens is turned the other way, and filmmakers Sarah Klein and Tom Mason have produced a short documentary called Ken Burns: On Story. In the film embedded below, Burns talks about good storytelling and the ways in which we manipulate audiences.

Ken Burns: On Story, directed by Sarah Klein and Tom Mason:

Ken Burns knows a thing or two about telling stories, but his ideas on storytelling apply to all filmmakers, and certainly to any other type of medium where we are trying to capture the attention of an audience. While he generally uses stock footage and interviews, you’d be foolish to think that he doesn’t have a grand idea for how he is going to put his story together before he begins.

The quote from Godard that Burns mentions in the interview is often shortened, but the full quote, which slightly changes the meaning, is actually very similar to Burns’ philosophy. Godard really said, “Film is truth 24 times a second, and every cut is a lie.” Godard was also referring to manipulation — using the images to move the audience in one direction or another. The best way we as storytellers can move an audience, is by being honest and genuine with ourselves. If it doesn’t move us or excite us personally, how can we expect an audience to feel anything?

[via Film School Rejects & The Atlantic]


We’re all here for the same reason: to better ourselves as writers, directors, cinematographers, producers, photographers... whatever our creative pursuit. Criticism is valuable as long as it is constructive, but personal attacks are grounds for deletion; you don't have to agree with us to learn something. We’re all here to help each other, so thank you for adding to the conversation!

Description image 43 COMMENTS

  • I was hoping one of you guys would post this fawning interview so I could link to one that isn’t. There’s a little political conversation early on, but then it gets into Ken talking about his art. Gets tense after six minutes in. Has some beautiful projection going on and I think, if you’re looking, it’s more revealing of Burns because he isn’t just pitched softballs that he can easily knock out of the park. He isn’t smiling the whole time looking rapturous. Not that the interview is overly rancorous either. The conversation goes from public funding to a fractioning marketplace to Kens heroes in art to a couple other things that dovetail nicely with a number of recent posts/comments here at NFS lately.

    Oh, plus at the end Ken Burns lists the seven or so concurrent movies he is now making.

    • Really interesting. I mean I didn’t post the original video because it was a hard interview on his personal beliefs – I just liked the idea of genuine manipulation in filmmaking, as it’s something all artists must do to make a successful piece.

      Public funding can be a tricky slope, but since a little less than half of PBS’ funding comes from the government, he is being funded partially by the government, and we should certainly ask ourselves if his art is something taxpayers should, or shouldn’t be funding. There are plenty of filmmakers who receive grants, some of them paid for in one way or another by the government, and I doubt any of them would think twice about it if given the choice again.

      The thing about films is that they are hard to fund privately without the financier wanting to gain something. Whether that’s more money or a particular message they want to get across, it’s hard to make a film using a large sum of money from a private source and not have them looking over your shoulder (I would likely do the same in their position – I don’t think there are many who wouldn’t). The government spending huge sums of money on making films isn’t necessarily an ideal world, while I might selfishly want that being a filmmaker myself, the real ideal world would be filmmakers and other artists being commissioned by private sources to make whatever they want to make without interference. Films are a lot different than paintings, or sculptures, or music, and they can’t be appreciated from a superficial point of view and hang in our hallways or play in the background. If you want to look at anything, I guess that would be the real issue, that films are the least likely art form to be considered “art,” and simply because of the history of filmmaking and its focus on being a business, it’s a lot harder to convince private financiers or the public to want to fund a film purely as art to be enjoyed by the general populace.

      • “… he is being funded partially by the government, and we should certainly ask ourselves if his art is something taxpayers should, or shouldn’t be funding.”

        Really, Joe? In most civilized countries, nobody asks this question, it doesn’t even occur to anyone. The consensus, in most civilized countries, is that you fund a fairly broad spectrum of material, on the presumption that nobody can predict the course of the arts, and because marketplace won’t.

        The U.S., by contrast, pays out hundreds of billions in corporate subsidies and tax breaks every year, but regard arts’ subsidies (in ANY art form, and in tiny amounts, by comparison) as something requiring special scrutiny and suspicion, and as undeserving generally.

        How is it that public funding is a “tricky slope”, but a host of other business subsidies, in laughably greater amounts and quantities, aren’t a matter of public controversy? Are we worried that our precious sensibilities will be corrupted government, but that private finance makes us virtuous? Or that we’re wasting tax-payers money on lousy movies, when catch-pans for the Defense Dept. go for $17,000 a pop, and one high-tech bomber costs more than a century of arts’ funding?

        But there’s no need to turn this into an ideological dispute. Just compare the state and vitality of American independent film, to art-house production in countries (including countries much less wealthy we are) which routinely subsidize production. And draw your own conclusions, about the terrible dangers of that “slope”.

        • Somehow you also missed this part: “The government spending huge sums of money on making films isn’t necessarily an ideal world, while I might selfishly want that being a filmmaker myself…”

          EVERYTHING that the government pays for deserves to be scrutinized. Every single piece of legislation should be questioned and talked about – art just happens to be the topic at hand. The government should undoubtedly fund the arts, but the question becomes – who and how much? That’s the tricky slope, how do you ensure a fair process, and why does one production deserve more money than another? That’s all I’m asking – I certainly don’t have the answer, and that’s why I’m asking the question.

          By the way, I am 100% in favor of tax credits, even if they do at times favor larger productions who tend to benefit more from them. The process has a lot more checks in place, and you only receive the money on the successful completion of the film and all money is accounted for. It boosts local economies – especially the larger productions.

          I actually like the idea of using the lottery as a source of funding for the arts – similar to the way the UK does it. The question about Ken Burns being funded has to do with his success, and why he thinks that he’ll be interfered with just because he tries to get external sponsors. I actually believe he could get plenty of corporate sponsors who would not interfere with his production – so I was simply saying there’s no reason why we shouldn’t talk about it.

          To play devil’s advocate, the reason arts are generally scrutinized in this way is because they are intangible – they don’t produce something that is necessary for survival or benefits society directly. I obviously don’t agree with that, but if you want to know why it’s scrutinized so heavily, it’s because of the large sums of money that have been paid to artists for government propaganda across the world, specifically in the 20th century. The big problem with legislation in the United States, is that often elected officials are lobbied with a lot of money to vote one way or another – and while they are not required to do so – the entire system of lobbying makes legislation for anything difficult. The other part of that slippery slope is what stops Hollywood from lobbying for only their productions to receive government funding? Or influencing which projects receive, or DON’T receive government money? That’s the way legislation works in the current system, and it’s foolish to think otherwise.

          The only art funding we shouldn’t question or talk about is public education arts funding, as there is a direct and tangible benefit to students who are exposed to a wide degree of the arts.

          As for your point about the state of independent film, the last time I checked, independent film is flourishing in the United States. Yes, maybe not films that used to be made for $1 million dollars, but we are now making many more films than we can distribute. Companies like Kickstarter and Indiegogo have created a revolution in funding for independent films. So while I actually think there should be public funding for arts (contrary to what you think I meant), independent film is better now than it has ever been at any point in our history. Anyone can go get money to make a film, and with the wonderful technology we have, a lot of the look of the film simply comes down to the experience level of the individual.

          • Forgive me, but I think you’re missing the point.

            1) Independent film is indeed certainly flourishing in numbers, but the movies stink, which is a widely held view – except inside the circle of independent film.

            2) please spare me the good government sermons; you worry far too much about the effect of government arts spending. Arts’ subsidies and patronage have a long and distinguished history. What you might want, or I might want, doesn’t matter. Civilized countries learned centuries ago that to sustain the arts, you need public or private subsidies. This may offend prevailing political sensibilities about the role of government in life, but it’s not subject to factual dispute.

            3) the next time you’re losing sleep over the pittance which goes to the arts in the U.S., and how it may corrupt our precious art form or society at large, remind yourself of the $25+ trillion in guarantees the Fed was making in 2008-9; or the billions GE and dozens of other highly profitable corporations receive in tax rebates; or the billions agribusiness receives not to grow crops. By all means, reform the whole system, give it all scrutiny. Until you do, however, how about some money for the arts?

            • The quality of independent films is an entirely different subject, and the amount of money spent does not directly correlate to quality. I’m not sure what that has to do with government spending.

              Since we’re in a political and ideological discussion, I worry about all government spending, and I know all about the specific topics you mentioned, and a lot of it is wasteful, there’s no doubt about it, but to simplify it is not doing anyone justice.

              I think the government should be involved in arts spending in some way, I’m not sure how that’s getting lost in translation, and to think that I’m concerned only with arts spending and not with any other spending, is just ludicrous. Unfortunately this is no longer a discussion, so it should probably stop here before we continue wasting each others’ time.

      • PBS makes higher-quality content than 99% of the other corporate-funded garbage on the air, so I don’t find it objectionable in the least that a tiny sliver of our tax dollars goes to support them.

        • The question wasn’t the funding for PBS itself, who as you rightly say makes plenty of high quality content (and enough low-quality content, let’s not kid ourselves). The question was Burns’ relationship with PBS and his success level, and since PBS is partially funded by the government, basically everything he’s done has been partially government funded. I’m not saying it’s right or wrong, but there’s no doubt Burns is at a point in his career that he could probably get all the money he needs and still get to do whatever he wants somewhere else. That’s all.

          • Sure, he could, but why should he? This method of funding works for him, and I don’t see any reason US taxpayers should be upset about it either. Producing high-quality art — especially film — is a crucial component of American soft power that affects the way people around the world see the United States. I think the value of this is underestimated because it’s much harder to measure than the effect of our bombs…but look at how popular versions of Sesame Street are around the world. Exporting our values through art has real value US taxpayers.

  • shaun wilson on 05.20.12 @ 6:21AM

    I just did a deal with Apple for a new FCPX plugin called the Shaun Wilson Effect. It uses particles, similar to Red Giants Particular, to form a dollar sign and a movie camera behind it to spell the words “Get a real job”. Its going to be a big hit. Seriously.

  • Ugh, his hair is atrocious. Most obvious wig of all time?

  • Joe Marine wrote:

    “The quality of independent films is an entirely different subject, and the amount of money spent does not directly correlate to quality. I’m not sure what that has to do with government spending.”

    There’s a very strong correlation, all over the world, with what government spends on the arts, and the quality of those arts; how anyone could fail to understand this is beyond me; it’s history goes back to ancient civilizations.

    Then again, since this doesn’t confirm to current political orthodoxies, it may be problematic. In any event, I agree, this is a hopeless discussion.

  • Who on earth is Ken Burns?! After watching the link supplied by another commenter, it seems like he is a USA only documentary maker. No one has heard of him outside USA. Is he good? Does he know anything about story at all? Documentary making is pretty separate to story telling so the quote in the title seems to me as if he is willing to talk about things he knows nothing about.

    On top of that, his quote about the fire department putting out your fire is the worst sort of argument. Fire departments around the world are meant to be public services, so get NO private funding. They are 100% publicly funded. Fire Departments also make no profits and have no owners getting rich off the profits. Ken Burns is obviously making a profit from his privately owned production company. If lies and misdirection like this argument is used, I doubt he tells the truth very often in his so called “documentaries”. So in his case, documentaries are a form of story manipulation.

    • …yes. He is a well-known American documentary filmmaker who produces films for the public channel, PBS. Most of his topics are about chapters in American history.

      Although his style has worn thin over the years, his early work (e.g. The Civil War) is by and large regarded as some of the most compelling multi-part documentary work ever made. He makes ample use of panning across still images, hence the eponymous “Ken Burns effect” that has now come into modern production parlance.

    • Fire departments get plenty of private funding (at least in the US). They do fundraising all the time. You’ve never seen a fireman calendar? Plus, many US firehouses are volunteer staffed, i.e. private citizens are donating their time (and time = $). It’s true fire departments don’t make a profit, but I think Burns’ point was not to say that his films are the same as a fire department, he was just arguing that there is some value in not counting on the free market to manage every aspect of society.

      Anyway, whatever you think of his opinions, he makes some of the most respected historical docs in the US, and I think most historians would tell you they’re quite accurate.

      • Not outside USA. This guy seems to be obsessed about how people do things outside USA. I ca tell you that no fire department needs to do charity runs outside USA.

        No, I have never seen a fireman calendar. I have never seen one for sale, I have never seen one on a wall. I have seen many stupid cliché references to them on American produced TV.

        He may make some of the most respected documentaries in USA, but on the world scene, USA is not considered the home of “quality documentaries”. The international awards seem to go to people in England, New Zealand, Afghanistan and many other countries. I know, as a purchased of Documentaries on DVD, that I have never purchased one American Documentary. I have a large collection of BBC documentaries though. Oh, I almost forgot to mention, I have personally contacted the Discovery Channel, the History Channel and National Geographic to tell them that my family refuses to pay for any cable or satellite TV until we can opt out of their biased one eyed American channels. I contacted them about this many years ago, and I am still waiting for the opportunity to cut them out of any pay TV plan.

  • This discussion only goes to show that the common perception that the arts are full of lefties and socialists is wrong, when it comes to film. Burns said nothing which would be the slightest bit controversial in any other industrial democracy today. But he’s outraged boybunny, while Joe is repeating the kind of arguments you’d expect to hear from a retirement age “centrist” or one of our public billionaires, determined to gut “entitlements” for the good of the nation.

    And while SamDee makes the kind of arguments you’d expect to hear from the arty types, his is apparently a minority view in the movie business. Ask me, it’s the hardware component of film. You used to see the same thing over at — a shocking number of self-described “conservatives”, violently opposed to any state subsidies of the arts, but untroubled and non-activist, when it comes to business and sports’ subsidies.

    This is another casualty of focusing on equipment.

    • I’m pretty sure I’ve said numerous times I think art subsidies and grants are a good thing.

    • It’s simple: the failed novelists, playwrights, painters, photographers and art-house cinema seating fixtures who go into film are invariably the bleeding heart, socialist types. You don’t do introspective work for years, on the presumption that such work is a waste of time and that therefore taxpayers are somehow being cheated by the arts.

      Meanwhile, the capitalists and free market types are invariably equipment jocks, camera obsessives and Star Wars enthusiasts.

      Just about everybody attracted to film has failed at something more difficult and more important, so this isn’t as discriminatory as it as sounds. Both parties have a lot to answer for.

      • shaun wilson on 05.21.12 @ 5:46AM

        What this thread has demonstrated is that there are a few issues at play – the requirement for government scrutiny of arts funding which needs to be there on the grounds of financial accountability (point 1), justification of art orientated films in a cultural capacity (point 2), validation for non narrative/arthouse/experimental film as a viable medium with viable distribution avenues (if you say no, then check your facts)(point 3) and Joe repeating himself that he is not against arts funding (point 4). Speaking as both an arthouse/experimental (one feature out shortly) and narrative director (one feature shot in July 12) I can honestly say that these kinds of debates are good BUT, there needs to always be a strong insistence of accountability for point 1, an open and honest debate on point 2, a guarding of the arts and the experimental in point 3 or we suddenly find ourselves back in 1937, Berlin all over again (see The Entartete Kunst exhibition as case in point), and in point 4, Joe might have opened the lid but at no point did he suggest arts funding is bad (and point 5, The Civil War was one of the most important US documentaries of the later half of the 20th Century).

        • It’s so much simpler, in other countries where life isn’t viewed as a business transaction and return on investment isn’t regarded as sacred. And it downright “surreal” (forgive the expression, but it actually fits this time), that folks are demanding “accountability” for the pittance we spend on the arts — or used to spend on it, to be more exact — in the aftermath of the financial crisis and a “defense” budget which exceeds the money the rest of the world spends on the military, combined, neither of which has gotten any real scrutiny or reform, and with nobody here marching in the streets for such reform.

          Perhaps all this this goes back to our peculiar heritage: we were, after all, a country established by religious fanatics who convinced themselves that material success is a token of God’s approval. Only in the U.S. are arts regarded as inherently subversive or undeserving, with a particular burden to justify government expenditure, not demanded of commerce and private interests.

          Finally, lest all this sound too predictably leftie, I would argue that Ken Burns should get his money from the private sector, because all his pre-digested stuff celebrating the greatness of America has broad popular appeal and is so inoffensive and lacking in class consciousness that even corporate America could get behind it without worry for its bottom line and economic interests.

      • @samDEE

        I defy you! I’m a free market type not beholden to being obsessive about cameras or other equipment! Is being a Star Wars enthusiast a bad thing? But, HA Ha, I cancel out my enthusiasm of the holy trinity with my passion for hating the prequels only surpassed by Good thing for me enthusiasm has a positive connotation!

        • Plus I hate ewoks! So there!

        • Daniel Mimura on 05.21.12 @ 6:32PM

          I’ve watched those films more than the prequels…it’s getting to the point that I’ve seen ‘em almost as many times as I’ve seen Star Wars… They’re awesome.

    • His BS arguments outrage me. I am all for public money being used to support the arts, but with liars like Ken Burns advocating on behalf of people who deserve public funding, it weakens the position of everyone who deserves public funding.

      The way the KKK was disenfranchised was manipulating the same technique. I am not a KKK type, I am not in USA, and KKK is USA only as was the black slavery (though the white slavery in USA is always played down). The US media spent two decades avoiding interviewing anyone from the KKK who were great public speakers. The KKK was full of politicians, mayors, lawyers and other people who could have put up great arguments. The US media though, spent two decades giving the American public the impression that anyone in the KKK was a toothless drunk imbecile. Toothless drunk imbeciles were the ONLY people that the media interviewed who belonged to the KKK for twenty years. The policy worked incredibly well. The KKK were destroyed as their credibility was destroyed.

      If Ken Burns is let spout obvious self serving lies, then PBS and other government funding of art projects will be easy to discredit. Don’t believe me? I have explained this technique to other groups. Animal groups who had their animals banned in different countries on lies and half truths because the media decided to take a few morons and highlight them until their pets of choice were completely demonised. Unfortunately I doubt anyone here will listen to me. I am used to being ignored until AFTER the damage is irreversible… then I have to explain that it is just too late.

      • …um, wow. You honestly just took the effort to defend the Ku Klux Klan?

        I did not know white trash so closely followed this blog.

  • “an artist never works under ideal conditions” -tarkovski

    oh, cinema, our lovely babalon whore! :D

    • I think this was a very astute placement of Tarkovskys thoughts on the nature of cinema. It’s limitations (expensive and need to make money) and having to function within them.

    • The irony here, and it’s a doozy, is that Tarkovksy attended a state-funded film school where he made state-funded shorts, then went on to make state-funded features of the sort which could never be financed in the U.S. In the case of Andrei Rublev, this includes action scenes which Hollywood has never equaled for realism.

      Even more telling, his films were not for domestic consumption. The Soviets funded Tarkovsky’s productions for foreign prestige, because even that government saw the value of the arts couldn’t be measured by how much somebody’s willing to pay for them or how much money they could make.

      • All I want to say is I have ambitions someday to prove you wrong concerning your claim that these sort of films could never be financed in the states.

        • I think there is cases of REAL artists in north-american cinema, from mainstream (kubrick, hitchcock, scorsese) to more “underground”. For example, I love the north american cinema from David Lynch, jim jarmush and Hal Hartley. they are real artists, not just artisans, they are men with a singular vision… and singular artworks.

          My take is that hollywood industry these days is all about big budget productions and big box office. (in the past, the golden age before hollywood was brought by corpse-o-rations, there was more of a equilibrium and respect for art (quality) and not just money (quantity). So morethan ever it has to be flat in content. And hollywood arms go away beyond USofA, believe me, Motion Picture Association has a big control of what is shown in brazil film theaters. So the corporate hollywood vision is wide spread overseas these days! :DSo more and more people think that to be “professional” is to go big in budget and quantity of theaters exhibiting your production… success as amount of public and money. The kingdom of quantity over quality. Midiology from Regis Debray is a good start to understand it better.

          But some of the best films ever to endure the history test are not very expensive productions. Tarkovski, robert bresson, Kurosawa, misoguchi, bergman, Samuel Fuller, etc… It’s about a singular vision, some personal obsessions and clever use of the cinematic language.

          So I guess if we don’t go into the “future proof” thing of RED marketing (what’s the point of a future proof film with no transcendent quality in it?) and focus in find what is our obsessions and singular view of stuff, with digital technology and low-light capacity and possibility of shooting into real locations with small cameras,crew, etc, it’s really a great time, as most of nofilmschool readers are saying.

  • hey great it doesn’t play. you get an ad for an airlines i never heard of and thats it…

  • Sorry for the quasi thread jacking above. I shared the Reason interview because I thought it was a more interesting interview. I actually like the first interview talking about manipulation. It’s an interesting subject. It drives me batty sometimes. Just the coercive music used drove me nuts. Burns is saying these not exactly astonishing things and in the background is this music that makes you want to accept it as the gospel truth. The interview I shared thankfully didn’t do that. Was it quasi-meta on the first interviewees part to have that manipulating music going on to make the interview more than palatable, but appetizing?

    Concerning public funding (meaning using taxpayers dollars to pay for films) I agree with Joe so far as the slippery slope thing goes. No matter how you try and manage it, peoples feelings are going to get hurt. There will be people who take umbrage. I’m likely a bit more radical than many here and think all art ought be privately funded. To me it’s a question of the proper function of government, and to me that doesn’t involve taking money from taxpayers to give to artists. You are free to differ. I don’t think you’ll sway me with any argument here because I will view any contrary argument as advocating theft. Using other examples of government waste won’t sway me because it amounts to propping up other bad behavior as reason enough to make it ok. Doesn’t work for me. I know I’m likely minority here.

    I also want to rhetorically ask how much “really great” stuff has come from publicly funded art. And by publicly funded I mean government funded. I like Ken Burns (Though he never met an anecdote he didn’t like) and he sure is getting kicked around here. It’s been brought up he could very likely go private and spare us all our arguing over this, which sort of illustrates a downer of using government funding for art. Everyone should get a say. Did you guys ever hear about the kerfluffle Ken got to deal with concerning “The War”? There’s a segment about some Hispanic Americans that he was allegedly pressured into including into this film or some advocacy group was going to raise a big stink about how in his (manipulative) narrative, Hispanics didn’t exist. These sort of things WILL happen more and more so long as people rely on public funding. And those raising stink will be right. And the artist will be in a bind, having to choose his master, and he will piss people off. Getting off track. Perhaps one could give props to Fassbinder as a great publicly funded artist. I really like him. I immediately wonder if there isn’t something to be said about the differences in the American and German cinema markets of the ’70s. Perhaps that would be opening up a whole can of worms. Anyways, he certainly was a hustler and considered controversial. Pretty sure he had private backers too.

    Which reminds me of another tangent I wanted to touch on. This idea of investors only being interested in the lowly bottom dollar. I’m skeptical. Sometimes rich people have vanity. I know, who knew? And sometimes these people like to be close to whom they consider artistic geniuses, and they will open there coffers for a vanity fair. And there are more rich people today than ever before. So there’s an angle for the ambitious.

    How come I’m drawing such a blank trying to think of really (subjectively of course) great cinema that’s publicly funded? I guess you could kinda use Tarkovsky during the time of the Soviets, but it seems to me he would be a problematic poster child. his work was censored at home (along with many other artists before and after him) and then he was banned from working until a print was smuggled out and by becoming a cause célèbre abroad the Soviets decided to make him a sort of vanity project. Certainly not an artist in control of his own destiny. He was at the whims of a monolithic entity that was interested in PR.

    Who else? I’m really trying to find a slam dunk case that blows the idea of private funding out of the water. An example that can be replicated for artistic success (whatever that may mean). Having trouble here.

    • Virtually every non-American film made in the last 20 or 30 years depended to a large degree on direct and indirect public funding, and that’s even more true today. And big budget American films also depend on public subsidies, if you care to count tax subsidies and rebates. Exceptions would include low budget films in countries where subversion is still possible (e.g., China) or countries like the U.S. where the profit-motive is king and the right-wing is our moral guardian. Note that the last American indie to receive significant public support was Todd Haynes, who also happens to be the most successful and productive indie. But his work was used by Republicans as an example of exactly the kind of moral turpitude the American taxpayer shouldn’t be funding. And they succeeded in killing the funding.

      In any case, if you can’t find any examples in world cinema of the value of public funding, then you don’t cinema much.

      • Ok. Thanks for totally blowing my QUESTION out of the water. A name would have sufficed. Ya know, to illustrate why my skepticism is so unfounded. You are pretty good at talking to me like I’m stupid, but it doesn’t seem like you have yet made the actual case that convinces my stupid self why you are right and I am wrong. What is the real virtue of public funding that private funding lacks?

        If you want to support Haynes, support him. Do you think it is a winning moral argument to compel other people to pay for his artistic output? Where does this compelling end? What happens when it gets co-opted by people you don’t like and they take a good chunk of the pool to make fundies that you find objectionable? I would rather not play such a game.

      • ps- I don’t cinema much? I’m maybe more absurd than your average sentient, but this I found ludicrous! Love it. Keep it coming.

  • Ray Mackaway on 05.23.12 @ 10:09PM

    Thank you for this video. I enjoyed it very much.

    Story telling from a personal point of view will be influenced by your family history, the environment you where raised in and the choices you make for your life in latter years. The same story presented by another person, considering what has been said at the beginning of this post, could be just as valid as your story, but could present an almost opposite point of view.

  • Russell Steen on 05.25.12 @ 11:40AM

    Trying to stay. . .out. . .can’t. . .

    Oh, what the heck. PBS and NPR are constantly pushing narratives that benefits progressive special interest groups and politicians who in turn work to divert more public funding to them (or protect the funding they get), It is BS to call this funding of the arts when it is just another form of corruption. Bitch all you want about wasteful military spending or corporate tax breaks or the Crop Reduction Program, but spare me the whine that the arts somehow depend on tax funded subsidies, and claims that countries which publicly fund their arts are so much better for it. I’ve got five kids and I get up at the crack of dawn each day for them, not for politicians to use my taxes to fund media producers who in turn support those politicians.

  • Thanks for posting Joe nicely done!

  • Erik Stenbakken on 05.30.12 @ 3:04PM

    So… the idea originally was about STORY, yes? And the followup has devolved into anything but story. All about the money. Hmmmm. Maybe there’s a STORY in that?

    Is there something as compelling as a real STORY, above (beyond maybe?) money? Sad about the sorry state of art? What if our discussion here is some sort of microcosm of what art has become:
    “MY money and ideals!”
    “NO! MY money and ideals!” — or perhaps more like “YOUR money and MY ideals.”

    If most of the art (story?) we see comes from that same selfish and dogmatic place… we deserve what we get.