Screenwriter John Swetnam sold two spec scripts in 2011, “Evidence” and “Category Six”, both of them “found footage” projects. ScreenRant did an interview with Swetnam about this particular sub-genre:
Screen Rant: Why are found footage movies so popular in Hollywood right now? Is it mostly related to their smaller budgets and stronger potential for a high return on investment?
John Swetnam: If you’re talking about the business of Hollywood, then yes, I think studios and financiers would be stupid not to want a part of the FF business. It’s about risk/reward and with FF right now, there’s just a lot of upside. If I was using my own money, would I make one $10 million indie-dramedy or ten $1 million dollar FF horror films? I like money. I want more of it. So I go with option number two, and that’s the way studios think… and to be honest, can you blame them?
But the cool thing is that people really like these movies when they’re done right. They line up for midnight screenings. They tell their friends and plan viewing parties. They become a part of the process, like a volunteer street team. So you get the best of both worlds as far as I’m concerned. And that’s always been my dream: to make cool movies that people enjoy, while also making a lot of money. I know some people will think I’m a jerk for saying that, but it’s my truth and that’s just how I am. I love it when these movies make big box office. Fans love it. Studios love it. What’s not to love?
The new action/drama film Chronicle is getting good reviews in part for the creative way that it’s using the found footage concept. Outside of horror films, what are some of the ways that writers and directors can be creative in the found footage genre?
I think FF is just in its beginning stages. With the advancement of technology and the Internet, this kind of storytelling is now a part of our culture and writers are experimenting with exciting ways to use it. For a lot of writers, it’s like this new toy that we’re getting to play with. It’s the Wild West and people are experimenting with cool new takes and ideas and I think there are gonna be some great movies that come out of it. I loved Chronicle and thought the FF was used brilliantly, really pushing the technique. It’s not Blair Witch anymore where people actually think this is real. They don’t. But they will suspend their disbelief and become part of the story like never before, so I think the potential is limitless.
But of course, when there’s a gold rush, a lot of people end up going broke and getting syphilis. So yes, a lot of the stuff I’m seeing is pure crap. But that’s how it always is. It always comes back to the story/concept and characters. I mean, any kid in the country can make a FF movie and that’s a good thing. But just because the technology allows anyone to make a movie doesn’t mean that the percentage of good movies will go up. Cause at the end of the day, whether or not it’s FF, if it sucks, it sucks. A handheld camera can’t hide suck.
“A handheld camera can’t hid suck.” Awesome line! And true. It all comes down to the story concept, the story and the execution.
For more of the interview, go here. It’s a good read and since Swetnam is something of an expert in this area, if you’re interested in FF films, you’d be very wise to check it out.
For an interview I did with John last year, go here.
You can follow John on Twitter: @JohnSwetnam.
HT to @DFTVYP for the link.
UPDATE: You want found footage? I got your found footage! Rare snow leopards caught on camera in Bhutan!
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