|Photo via Grazia Magazine.|
I just read an incredibly informative interview with Francis Ford Coppola here. He reveals his three rules for filmmaking, adapting books to movies, risk, screenwriting and directing. I found it to be a treasure of information.
But I nearly gasped when I saw this quote, "Maybe the students are right. They should be able to download music and movies. I'm going to be shot for saying this. But who said art has to cost money? And therefore, who says artists have to make money?"
Wow, I couldn't disagree more. Coppola's basically devaluing his own work! How and when was it decided that the creation of "art" has no value? Is every job worthy of payment except for the creation of movies and music? The reason "art" should cost money to consume it is because it cost money to CREATE it! Usually numerous people are involved in the creation of movies and music. How do we justify not paying them for their time and work?
I see young people constantly consuming movies and music. But despite the importance it apparently has in their lives, they don't want to pay for it?! Don't they pay for everything else in their lives—their clothes, their MP3 players, their tv's, their video games and consoles, etc. What's the justification for paying for those things—things CREATED by other people—and not paying for music and movies? Maybe their XBox's and Urban Outfitters clothes should be free, too!
Art gives something to the viewer—an experience that they otherwise would not have had if not for the particular vision of the artist. Therefore, the viewer should give back to the artist in the form of payment. Think about what "Star Wars" and "Harry Potter" have done for the imaginations of millions of people. I think George Lucas and J. K. Rowling deserve every penny they've charged for the pleasure of experiencing their creations.
I think I'm particularly sensitive about this issue of "free" since I work in graphic design, an industry that has seen a tremendous devaluing in the last 10 years. People think that since layouts, typefaces and photos are readily available online that combining these elements together into a piece that communicates effectively is easy and requires no craft. I had a former colleague ask me to do some design for free. I politely declined for this very reason; I didn't want to contribute to the devaluing of my work.
Having said all of that, I DO believe there's a difference between making a living and making a killing. I don't think any of us artists should expect to make a killing. I discussed before the idea of redefining success in a culture that values only youth and extreme wealth. We can live fulfilling lives by making a good living; we don't all need Bill Gates or Oprah Winfrey dollars.
Remember: ALL work—all human endeavor—has value. When we start devaluing music and movies, we undermine their importance in society and sow the seeds of their destruction.