Having too much to watch is a bad problem to have, but Netflix wouldn’t let us think that.
The rise of streaming has led some creatives to feel the pressure of creating art that doesn’t get recognized for its greatness. The flood of content is overwhelming and has led audiences to fall into a doom scroll on streaming services’ home pages, with the service promoting media that fits your specific interest and burying new movies and originals that seemingly don’t align with your tastes.
With the launch of Artists Equity, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, along with Red Capital Partners, hope to create a production model that reflects the problems of Netflix’s endless stream of new and old media.
At The New York Times’ DealBook Summit on Nov. 30, Variety reported that Affleck said that Netflix operates similarly to an “assembly line” in how it produces such a massive output that eventually fades into its overstuffed library.
“If you ask [Netflix co-CEO and chairman] Reed Hastings… he’d say, ‘Hey, we went for quantity to establish a footprint,'” Affleck said. “I’m sure there’s wisdom in that and I’m sure they had a great strategy, but I would have said, ‘How are we going to make 50 great movies? How is that possible?’ There’s no committee big enough. There aren’t enough—you just can’t do it.”
In 2022, Netflix created and distributed over 100+ original films and series. Compared to Affleck’s and Damon’s modest goal of five films a year from their production company, Netflix has found a rhythm that it is comfortable performing at, even if some of its content is fairly formulaic.
Affleck added that making movies “is a thing that requires attention and dedication and work and it resists the sort of assembly line process” that Netflix has made its standard.
“[Netflix’s head of original films] Scott Stuber is a really talented, smart guy who I really like… but it’s an impossible job,” Affleck said.
He also said he understands the need to make popular projects.
“There’s a bigger audience for action movies than there is for small dramas. I get that,” Affleck said, commenting on Netflix’s distribution of movies of a specific genre. “Certain genres play more broadly and you can’t not be mindful of that. But let’s do a good one, let’s surprise the audience, let’s make them care about it.”
Good movies of any genre can still be made, but they have to have a certain level of heart and dedication behind their productions. Without any care given to them, those movies will have flaws that slip through the cracks and devalue the film’s story and visual language.
With Affleck serving as CEO and Damon assuming the role of chief content officer, Artists Equity plans to pay attention and give care to the stories they want to tell. The company’s first project is already in production. The untitled drama that Affleck wrote and directed tells the story of the birth of Nike’s famed Air Jordan sneaker brand. Artists Equity joins Amazon Studios, Skydance Sports, and Mandalay Pictures as a producer on the film.
The hope is that this project can return a focus to media made for adults to watch at home while creating a profitable environment for filmmakers and talent in the age of streaming. Will Artists Equity be able to achieve this goal? Only time will tell, but we are filled with excitement and support for this new production company.
Do you agree with Affleck’s statements on Netflix? Let us know what you think in the comments!