Film Crit Hulk Smash: HULK SMASHES THE PUNY PARADIGMS OF FILM CRITICISM WITH HULK-SIZED SEMIOTICAL ESSAYS ON STORYTELLING, CINEMATIC PRINCIPLES, AND MEDIA THEORY! HULK EVEN MAKE PRACTICAL HOW-TO GUIDES! See More...

Film Crit Hulk Smash: HULK VS. STATISTICAL SCRIPT ANALYSIS

You probably read the recent NYT post about a new method for analyzing script success? Hulk smashes it.

Film Crit Hulk Smash: HULK VS. STATISTICAL SCRIPT ANALYSIS

SO THE NEW YORK TIMES WROTE A PIECE ABOUT A FORMER STATISTICS PROFESSOR, MR. BRUZZESE, WHO GIVES HIGH-PRICED SCRIPT ANALYSIS TO STUDIOS (AND ANYONE WHO WILL HIRE HIM) BASED ON WELL-MINED DATA WHICH HE USES TO PROGNOSTICATE THE ECONOMIC SOUNDNESS OF YOUR  STORYTELLING.

SHORT VERSION: THIS IS COMPLETE HORSEPOOP.

SLIGHTLY LONGER VERSION: THEY ARE ADVERTISING YOU A DIAGNOSTIC TOOL, BUT WHAT IT'S REALLY A POORLY-AIMED, POORLY-CONCEIVED DIAGNOSTIC TOOL THAT IS AN AFFRONT TO DIAGNOSTICS. SO LET'S TALK ABOUT WHY.

HULK HAS ALREADY HEARD WHAT THEY'RE DOING CALLED "THE SABERMETRICS OF SCREENWRITING" (WHICH IS FUNNY GIVEN ANOTHER COLUMN HULK IS ALREADY WORKING ON), AND THEREFORE IT SEEMS TO BEG THE TRUE-TO-BASEBALL PARALLEL THAT ANYONE WHO DOESN'T FOLLOW SUIT IS A DINOSAUR THAT ISN'T LOOKING AT THE WAY "THINGS REALLY ARE." NOW, IT MAY SURPRISE YOU TO LEARN THAT HULK IS A HUGE SPORTS FAN. NOT ONLY DOES HULK FIND SPORTS TO BE JOYOUS AND FASCINATING, BUT HULK GOES SO FAR AS TO WORSHIP AT THE ALTAR OF THE BASEBALL-STAT GENIUS, BILL JAMES. AND HAVING STUDIED STATISTICS FAIRLY EXTENSIVELY, IT IS SAFE TO SAY THAT HULK IS HUGELY INVESTED IN THE MERITS OF STATISTICAL DATA AND IS THUS ALWAYS EAGER TO DELVE INTO WHAT THEY ACTUALLY MEAN AND HOW THEY ARE BEST SUITED FOR USE. WHICH ACTUALLY MEANS TWO THINGS:

1) THAT HULK IS THE IDEAL CANDIDATE TO FIND THIS KIND OF SCRIPT-LEVEL STATISTICAL DIAGNOSIS USEFUL.

2) IT ALSO MEANS THAT HULK IS QUALIFIED ENOUGH TO TELL YOU IF IT IS COMPLETE BULLSHIT.

SO IN ORDER TO ASSESS THE SITUATION, LET'S GET A FEW THINGS STRAIGHT RIGHT OFF THE BAT: SABERMETRICS AND STATISTICAL ANALYSIS ARE FASCINATING, BUT LORDY LET'S NOT CALL THEM A "SCIENCE" OR ANYTHING LIKE THAT. SCIENCE IS THE RIGOROUS TESTING OF AN IDEA IN THE EFFORT TO ISOLATE THE CAUSALITY AND PROVE TRUTH. WHEREAS STATISTICS IS JUST PLAIN OLD  ANALYSIS OF MEASURED DATA (OFTEN DUE TO THE FACT THAT WHAT WE'RE TRYING TO MEASURE IS UN-ISOLATE-ABLE AND THUS UNPROVABLE). WHICH MEANS THAT THERE IS A HUGE AMOUNT OF INTERPRETATION GOING ON AND THUS STATISTICS IS THE ARENA OF MATHEMATICS THAT IS MOST LIKE AN ART FORM. AND ONE'S ABILITY TO NAVIGATE STATISTICS IS BUILT UPON ONE'S ABILITY TO PERCEIVE NUANCE AND ONE'S HAVING A STRONG FAMILIARITY WITH THE SUBJECT AND A GOOD SENSE OF THE CRAFT. BUT MOST OF ALL, IT DEPENDS ON ONE'S ABILITY TO ASSESS THE THINGS THAT BEST REPRESENT CAUSALITY. AND WHEN STATISTICS ARE HANDLED RESPONSIBLY, THERE CAN BE NOTHING MORE VALUABLE.

SO HULK CAN BARELY CONTAIN THE HULK-RAGE HERE BECAUSE SURELY THE MOST BASIC THING THAT A FREAKING FORMER STATISTICS PROFESSOR WOULD KNOW IS THAT THE ONLY GOOD STATISTICAL DATA COMES FROM ASKING THE RIGHT QUESTIONS - QUESTIONS WHICH ZERO IN ON CAUSALITY.

AND BOY ARE THEY ASKING ALL THE WRONG QUESTIONS.

FOR STARTERS, THE ANALYSIS DESCRIBED IN THE ARTICLE IS ALL BACKWARDS AND RESULT-DRIVEN. IT'S ALL CONCLUSIONS LIKE "THIS MOVIE HAD THIS IN IT AND MADE MONEY. THAT MOVIE HAD THAT IN IT AND DIDN'T. THUS THE "THIS" AND "THAT" LARGELY CREATED THOSE RESULTS." NOT ONLY IS THIS A HUGE LOGICAL FALLACY, IT GETS INTO THE AGE-OLD LESSON YOU LEARN IN, LIKE, MIDDLE SCHOOL THAT "CORRELATION DOES NOT MEAN CAUSE." THIS IS A BASIC PRINCIPLE OF MATH AND SCIENCE.... AND LIFE. AND ALMOST EVERY BIT OF THIS GROUP'S ANALYSIS IS ESSENTIALLY TELLING YOU THAT WISE DECISIONS ARE BASED ON CORRELATION AND CAUSE. OH LISTEN TO HIM PAWN IT OFF AS "WE'RE JUST GIVING THE NUMBERS," BUT THEY ARE ABSOLUTELY SAYING THAT THESE NUMBERS LEAD TO THE WISEST DECISIONS. THEY ARE THE SAFEST BETS. THEY ARE THUS IMPLYING CORRELATIONS MEAN CAUSE AND THEY'RE TELLING YOU TO BASE YOUR DECISIONS ON THEM. AND THE FOLLOWING MAY SOUND RIDICULOUS, BUT THE DATA THEY ARE OFFERING YOU AS INSIGHTFUL IS STATISTICALLY NO MORE SOUND THAN IF YOU STUDIED THE CORRELATIONS OF DUCK MATING IN YOUR LOCAL POND WITH BOX OFFICE RETURNS. THEY'RE ASKING EVERY SINGLE WRONG QUESTION. THEY'RE JUST SHOWING RESULTS AND LOOKING FOR THE BIGGEST SPIKES. HECK, WE'VE ALREADY PROVEN THAT RANDOM, UNPREDICTABLE EVENTS LIKE BIG WEATHER STORMS AND THE NATIONAL MOOD CAN AFFECT BOX OFFICE MORE THAN MERE SUBJECT MATTER AND YET THIS "ANALYSIS" WOULD DICTATE TO US THAT YOUR DECISION TO INCLUDE A BOWLING SCENE WAS WHAT SUNK YOUR MOVIE AT THE BOX OFFICE (CUE COEN BROTHERS JOKE). WHEN MORE LIKELY IT HAS TO DO WITH THE FACT THEY HIRED A TERRIBLE DIRECTOR TO MAKE A TERRIBLE MOVIE THAT WAS NOTED INTO BEING A PERSONALITY-LESS MONSTER.

SO THE ARGUMENT AGAINST THESE GUYS IS SIMPLE: THEY AREN'T MEASURING WHAT THEY SAY THEY'RE MEASURING.

LET'S THINK ABOUT IT: THE REASON WE CREATED SABERMETRICS IN THE FIRST PLACE IS THAT WE REALIZED THE SET OF EXISTING DATA WAS ACTUALLY BASED OFF POORLY WORDED QUESTIONS. YOU'VE PROBABLY SEEN OR READ MONEYBALL SO YOU MAY GET IT, BUT PRIOR TO SABERMETRICS WE WERE ONLY LOOKING AT THE MOST OBVIOUS AND RESULT-DRIVEN TANGIBLE STATS. WE NEVER STOPPED TO ASK "WHAT ARE WE ACTUALLY MEASURING?" AND THUS WE MEASURED HITS, RUNS BATTED IN, HOME RUNS AND STOLEN BASES AND USED THEM TO MEASURE A PLAYER'S CAPACITY TO CREATE OFFENSE. IN TRUTH, WHEN WE ANALYZED HOW WE CREATE RUNS WE SHOULD HAVE BEEN LOOKING AT HOW MUCH A PLAYER GETS ON BASE. AND RUNS BATTED IN DON'T TAKE OPPORTUNITY INTO ACCOUNT, SO OFTEN IT'S JUST A GOOD MEASURE OF PLAYERS GETTING ON BASE AHEAD OF YOU. THUS, THE BETTER QUESTIONS LED US TO ADOPT BATTING AVERAGE AND ON-BASE PERCENTAGE WITH RUNNERS IN SCORING POSITION TO GET THE STATISTICS. ONE GUY COULD HAVE 140 RBIS AND ANOTHER HAS 100, BUT THE 100 RBI GUY COULD BE WAY BETTER, HE JUST HAD LESS PEOPLE GETTING ON BASE IN FRONT OF HIM. LIKEWISE, WE MEASURED STOLEN BASES WITHOUT REALIZING THAT STOLEN BASE PERCENTAGE WAS WAY MORE USEFUL BECAUSE GETTING THROWN OUT WAS INFINITELY MORE DAMAGING THAN THE BOON OF A STEAL. IT'S LIKE HOW WE COUNTED HOME RUNS BUT WE NEVER STOPPED TO THINK THAT BASEBALL WAS THE ONLY SPORT WHERE THE FIELD HAS DIFFERENT DIMENSIONS AND WE COMPARED THE POWER OF PLAYERS WHO WERE DEALING WITH ENTIRELY DIFFERENT SETS OF VARIABLES.

SURE, IT WAS ALL "ACCURATE DATA" BUT MEANINGLESS COMPARED TO WHEN WE STARTED ASKING THE MORE POINTED QUESTIONS. AND SO WE USED SABERMETRICS TO CREATE BETTER DATA. WE COMBINED THE EXISTING INFORMATION AND BUILT FORMULAS TO ACCURATELY MEASURE IMPACT AND ISOLATE THE CAUSALITY. AND BECAUSE OF THAT, NOW WE ARE SO SO SO SO MUCH BETTER AT SEEING THE REAL TRUTH OF WHAT CAN LEAD TO WINS AND LOSSES IN BASEBALL.

SO WHILE THE SCRIPT ANALYSIS SERVICE IN QUESTION IS ATTEMPTING TO GIVE YOU THE DETAILED INFORMATION THAT TELLS THE REAL STORY, IT'S REALLY JUST GIVING YOU THE HITS, HOME RUNS, RBIS, AND STEALS.... ACTUALLY THAT WOULD BE PUTTING A NICE SHINE ON IT. THEY'RE GIVING YOU CORRELATIONS TO BOX OFFICE THAT HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH BOX OFFICE (EXCEPT FOR STAR WATTAGE DRAW, WHICH STUDIOS ALREADY DO BETTER BECAUSE OF THEIR EXISTING KNOWLEDGE OF THEIR CAPACITY FOR INTERNATIONAL THEATER BOOKING, BUT THAT'S A WHOLE OTHER TANGENT). SO REALLY THEY'RE GIVING YOU THE ANSWERS TO THE WORST QUESTIONS POSSIBLE.

HERE'S A GOOD PARALLEL: ONE OF THE BIGGEST ONGOING HORRORS OF MOVIEDOM IS HOW ANYTHING AFTER THE FIRST TEASER / TRAILER TENDS TO BE... KIND OF HORRIBLE. AND THE REASON WE KEEP MAKING THE FINAL TRAILERS HORRIBLE ON PURPOSE EVEN THOUGH IT'S COUNTER-INTUITIVE? YUP. BAD RESEARCH. REALLY, THE WAY THAT TRAILERS EXIST NOW IS BASED ON ONE POORLY WORDED QUESTION IN RESEARCH AND FOCUS TESTING GROUPS. THE DATA TESTERS SIT AROUND ASK "WHAT DID YOU WANT TO SEE MORE OF IN THE TRAILER?" WITHOUT THINKING OF WHAT THAT QUESTION REALLY MEANS. AS A RESULT, THE ANSWERS ARE ALWAYS THE SAME. 90% OF GUYS SAY THEY WANT MORE EXPLOSIONS AND BOOBS. 90% OF WOMEN SAY THEY WANTED TO KNOW MORE OF THE STORY. AND THAT'S THE REASON WE HAVE TRAILERS THAT SHOW NOTHING BUT EXPLOSIONS, BOOBS AND THE WHOLE DAMN STORY. THE QUESTION THAT IS NEVER ASKED? "DOES GIVING WHAT THEM WHAT THEY WANT BEST SERVE OUR INTERESTS?" I.E. DOES IT RESULT IN DRIVING MORE PEOPLE TO A THEATER? THE ANSWER IS ACTUALLY NO. BELIEVE IT OR NOT, THE VERY PURPOSE OF A TRAILER IS SUPPOSED TO TEASE AND MAKE YOU WANT MORE. RIGHT NOW WE CONSTRUCT TRAILERS AS 2 MINUTE VERSIONS OF THE ENTIRE MOVIE TO SUPPLANT THE MEDIA EXPERIENCE YOU CRAVE, BUT WE ACTUALLY SATE YOU WITH THEM. AND ANYONE WILL TELL YOU THAT THE BEST WAY TO ADVERTISE IS TO CREATE LONGING AND DESIRE. WHILE HULK LAMENTS HIS OVER-REDUCTIVENESS OF IT, J.J. ABRAMS IS ESSENTIALLY RIGHT WHEN IT COMES TO THE SELLING OF HIS PRODUCTS (NOT THE STORY CONSTRUCTION THOUGH). IT IS MORE EFFECTIVE TO SELL INTRIGUE THEN IT IS TO SELL A 2 MINUTE VERSION THAT GIVES YOU THE COMPLETE EXPERIENCE. EVEN ON THE CULINARY LEVEL, THE BEST CHEFS KNOW TO MAKE DISHES THAT MAKE YOU THINK "I JUST WANT ONE MORE BITE OF THAT" INSTEAD OF MAKING YOU FEEL BARFTASTICALLY-FULL.

THE IDEAL IS OBVIOUSLY A HAPPY MEDIUM (ALL OF ADVERTISING CAN'T BE A HUSH HUSH SECRET), BUT WE DON'T DO IT BECAUSE THE FOCUS GROUPS ASK THE WRONG QUESTION. THEY INDULGE IN MOMENTARY WANTS OF THE AUDIENCE. THEY ASSUME THAT A MOMENT THE AUDIENCE LIKES IS WHAT THE AUDIENCE WANTS TO SEE, WITHOUT THINKING OF THE FUNCTIONALITY. THERE'S A GREAT PARALLEL SHANE BLACK GIVES IN TALKING ABOUT HOW STUDIOS LOOK AT RESEARCH AND WANT IT TO BE CLIMAX, CLIMAX, CLIMAX IN THEIR MODERN BLOCKBUSTERS AND IT MISREPRESENTS THE BASIC FUNCTION OF CAUSALITY. STORYTELLING NEEDS TO BE SET-UP/PUNCHLINE. WATCH HIM EXPLAIN IT.

THIS IS THE DANGER OF LOOKING AT WHAT PEOPLE "WANT" AND MAKING THE WRONG CONCLUSIONS OF HOW TO GET THERE. AND IT IS THE EXACT PROBLEM OF THIS BOGUS STATISTICAL ANALYSIS BEING TOUTED BY MR. BRUZZESE IN THE ARTICLE.

MAYBE YOU THINK HULK'S EXAGGERATING ABOUT THE INVALIDITY OF THEIR RESEARCH. MAYBE YOU THINK THEY'RE JUST PROVIDING A SERVICE AND IT'S UP TO THE CONSUMER TO SORT THROUGH IT. MAYBE YOU THINK IT CAN'T POSSIBLY HURT OR BE THAT BAD. MAYBE YOU WORRY THAT WHAT WAS REPRESENTED IN THE NYT ARTICLE WAS JUST THE MOST REDUCTIVE STUFF AND THEY ACTUALLY HAVE VALID AND USEFUL RESEARCH.... HERE'S WHERE WE GO BEHIND THE VEIL. HULK TRACKED DOWN SOME OF THEIR THE RESEARCH IN FULL FORM. HULK CAN'T DIVULGE IT FOR SUPER-OBVIOUS REASONS, BUT THIS HAS ALL BEEN CONFIRMED. AND YES THE KINDS OF EXAMPLES USED IN THAT ARTICLE ARE COMPLETELY REPRESENTATIVE OF THE NON-CORRELATIVE DATA THEY OFFER. QUITE FRANKLY, IT MIGHT BE THEIR STRONGEST STUFF (TO GIVE AN EXAMPLE: AT ONE POINT THERE IS A COMPLETELY SERIOUS SUGGESTION OF SETTING THE PROJECT IN A DIFFERENT TIME PERIOD, WHEN JUST ABOUT THE ENTIRE STORY IS GEARED AROUND ITS SPECIFIC TIME PERIOD). THIS IS WHAT WE'RE TALKING ABOUT HERE. AND THE THING IS THAT YOU REALLY HAVE TO REMEMBER IS THAT HULK WOULD EMBRACE ANY INSIGHTFUL STATISTICAL DATA IF THEY WERE ABLE TO ASK THE BEST POSSIBLE QUESTIONS.

THERE'S ONE HUGE PROBLEM WITH THAT THOUGH...

EVEN IF THEY EVENTUALLY ASK ALL THE RIGHT QUESTIONS, EVEN IF THEY CONCENTRATE ALL THEIR DATA IN A WAY THAT IS INFINITELY MORE VALUABLE AND FIND THE MAGIC EQUATIONS FOR WHAT REALLY MAKES SCRIPTS COMPELLING AND DESIRABLE... HERE'S THE NEXT PROBLEM... THEY NEVER ONCE CONSIDER EVOLUTION OF TASTE. UNLIKE SPORTS, WHICH ARE BUILT ON TANGIBLE AND POSITIVE PRODUCTION, GOING TO SEE MOVIES IS BUILT OFF A MATTER OF TASTE AND OPINIONS. AND AS COLLECTIVE MOVIE-GOERS, OUR APPETITES CHANGE. THEY ALWAYS HAVE. WHICH MEANS YOU CAN'T DEPEND ON MERE TEXTURE AND TRENDS. PEOPLE JUST GET SICK OF THINGS. JUDD APATOW EMERGED AS THE FRESHEST VOICE IN COMEDY AND THEN PEOPLE WANTED SOMETHING ELSE (WHICH OFTEN HAPPENS IN COMEDY EVEN IF THEY ARE STILL PUTTING OUT GOOD WORK). PERHAPS WE SAW THE SEAMS OF WHAT HE WAS DOING AND THEN WANTED SOMETHING ELSE THAT FELT FRESH. WHICH ALL MEANS THAT THE STATISTICS BEING DRAWN ON BY THIS GROUP WILL TELL YOU WHERE THE SUN-CAST SHADOW IS NOW, BUT NOT WHERE IT WILL BE IN HOUR. AND GIVEN THAT BIG MOVIES CAN BE IN PRODUCTION FOR YEARS, THIS TREND-BASED NONSENSE KILLS ENTIRE STUDIO EFFORTS. ALICE IN WONDERLAND IS A BIG HIT BECAUSE PEOPLE WERE LIKE "ZOMG, TIM BURTON DOING ALICE IN WONDERLAND" AND THEN THE STUDIOS WERE LIKE "MODERN ACTION FAIRY TALES WITH THIRD ACT BATTLES ARE THE NEW THING!" AND WE GOT A DEARTH OF HORRIBLE COPYCATS. CORRELATION DOES NOT MEAN CAUSE.

AND THE BEST PEOPLE IN THE BUSINESS UNDERSTAND THIS. REALLY, THEY DO. HULK'S WORKED WITH THE KIND OF PEOPLE WHO TYPIFY THE COPYCAT / POOR-CORRELATION THINKING. AND HULK'S WORKED WITH REALLY SMART PEOPLE TOO. CREATIVES. EXECUTIVES. ALL PEOPLE AT THE TOP OF THEIR GAME WHO COULD EVEN MANAGE TO BUILD THAT MOST ELUSIVE THING: A DEPENDABLE EVERGREEN BRAND,  AND THEY ARE ABLE TO DO THAT BY KNOWING THAT COPYCAT-ING AND CONVENTIONALITY IS THE DEATH OF ALLURE. IN FACT, DO YOU KNOW WHAT THESE SMART EXECUTIVES DO? THEY LOOK AT THE TRENDS THAT ARE LACKING. THEY LOOK TO FILL THE NICHE THAT IS NOT BEING FILLED. THEY LOOK FOR THE OPPORTUNITY AND NOT THE CLUTTERED LANDSCAPE... AND THEN THEY ASK ALL THE RIGHT QUESTIONS.

BUT BEST OF ALL? THEY UNDERSTAND THE PURPOSE AND POINT OF STORYTELLING.

IN THE ARTICLE, MR. BRUZZESE MAKES HIS SENTIMENT ON STORYTELLING PRETTY CLEAR. HE THINKS STORYTELLING CAN BE FIXED AS PART OF THIS ABSURD NUMBERS GAME THAT CAN BE STITCHED TOGETHER LIKE A FRANKENSTEIN MONSTER. IT TYPIFIES THE WORST OF STUDIO-THINK AND YOU CAN REALLY GET A SENSE OF WHAT HE THINKS OF "THE ARTIST" UNDERNEATH ALL HIS LIP-SERVICE OF RESPECTING THE CREATIVE PROCESS. WHEN LED TO SPECULATE ON WHY WRITERS ARE SO THREATENED BY HIS WORK, HE SAYS: “All screenwriters think their babies are beautiful,” he said, taking a chug of Diet Dr Pepper followed by a gulp of Diet Coke and a drag on a Camel. “I’m here to tell it like it is: Some babies are ugly.” WHICH DOES NOTHING BUT TROT OUT THE STEREOTYPE OF WRITERS JUST BEING OVERLY-PRECIOUS ARTISTS. BUT THERE'S NOTHING MORE UGLY THAN SOMEONE USING "FACTS" TO HORRIBLY MISASSESS WHAT THEY'RE LOOKING AT. THERE'S NOTHING MORE UGLY THAN SOMEONE WHO HIJACKS REASON TO NONSENSICALLY TELL YOU WHAT YOU'RE DOING WRONG. BECAUSE LET HULK TELL YOU THE BIGGEST PROBLEM WITH ALL OF THIS...

ART IS ACTUALLY ABOUT THE FLAWS.

HULK KNOWS THAT SOUNDS CRAZY, BUT IT'S TRUE. OUR RELATIONSHIP TO ART IS LARGELY LIKE OUR RELATIONSHIP TO HUMANS. LIKE HUMANS, MOVIES HAVE PERSONALITIES. THEY HAVE GOOD ATTRIBUTES AND THEY HAVE FLAWS. THEY MUST HAVE FLAWS. THEY'RE MADE BY PEOPLE. BUT WE'RE ATTRACTED TO CERTAIN KINDS OF PEOPLE. WE'RE REPULSED BY OTHERS. IF YOU THINK ABOUT IT WE DON'T LIKE GENERIC PEOPLE. THERE'S NOTHING WE CONNECT TO IN GENERICISM. AND WE CONNECT TO ART BECAUSE WE FEEL THAT CONNECTION. IT DOES THE KINDS OF THINGS WE LOVE. IT'S FLAWED IN THE WAYS WE LOVE TOO - OR AT LEAST WE CAN TOLERATE THEM. IT'S THIS INESCAPABLE THING ABOUT STORIES AND NARRATIVES AND YET WE ALWAYS WALK AROUND LIKE IT ISN'T TRUE. WORSE, WE'RE MISSING THE FACT THAT "OUR" KIND OF MOVIE IS THE REASON WE'RE COMPELLED TO IT. SO ARTISTS AREN'T PROTECTING THEIR ART BECAUSE THEY'RE PROTECTIVE. THEY'RE JUST TRYING TO FOSTER THE MOST CRUCIAL RELATIONSHIP WITH THE AUDIENCE. THEY'RE TRYING TO KEEP THE CONNECTION.

HULK ACTUALLY TALKED ABOUT THIS ALL THIS IN A RECENT APPEARANCE ON THE FACEROCKER PODCAST WHEN SOMEONE ASKED THE QUESTION OF WHETHER OR NOT WE WOULD FIND ART COMPELLING IF IT WAS MADE BY A COMPUTER. AND WHAT MOST OF US ARGUED IS THAT THE MORE YOU MAKE THINGS THE SAME, LIKE A FORMULA OF SET 'BEST" DECISIONS, THE MORE IMPERSONAL YOU MAKE IT. THE LESS YOU MAKE IT AN ORGANIC THING THAT WE CAN CONNECT TO. BECAUSE WE CONNECT TO THE FLAWS. A PIECE OF MUSIC CAN BE MECHANICALLY PERFECT, BUT WE NEED THE PASSION AND EMOTION TO CONNECT TO. WE NEED THE FLAWS. AND LIKE THE THE PLOT-HOLE TOWN CRIERS WHO SEE A CHARACTER'S ERROR IN LOGIC AS A MARK AGAINST THE FILM, MORE OFTEN THAN NOT THOSE ERRORS ARE LEADING TO CONFLICT AND DRAMATIC SITUATIONS THAT POWER THE FILM. THAT GIVE IT ENERGY AND PURPOSE. YOU CAN'T SUPPLY "SOLUTIONS" THAT ERASE THE INTENDED EXPERIENCE OF THE MOVIE. FOR ANY GOOD STORYTELLER KNOWS A "FLAW" CAN HAVE A REAL NET GAIN.

BUT MORE IMPORTANT THAN ANY OF THAT IS HOW THE REAL MAGIC OF A MOVIE PULLS YOU INTO SOMETHING YOU DON'T ACTUALLY WANT. IT BRINGS YOU TO PLACES YOU FEEL LIKE YOU'VE NEVER BEEN BEFORE. GIVES YOU EXPERIENCES YOU'VE NEVER HAD. LOOK AT THE FILMS THAT HAVE BROKEN THE GAME WIDE OPEN AND DONE MORE GIANT BOX OFFICE THEN ANYTHING ELSE. WE ALWAYS HEAR THE STORIES. NO ONE WANTED TO MAKE A SHARK ATTACK FILM. NO ONE WANTED TO RECREATE OLD TV SCI-FI SERIALS. WHEN YOU LOOK AT THE STORY OF WHAT HAS COMPELLED US IT WAS ALWAYS THE NEW THING AT EVERY TURN. IT WAS ALWAYS THOSE WHO LOOK TO THE THINGS THAT MOTIVATED THEM AND CONNECTED TO AS ARTISTS. IT WASN'T WHAT SOME DATA WAS TELLING THEM WAS "SO HOT RIGHT NOW."

OF COURSE HULK KNOWS THAT RESEARCH IS USEFUL. AND HULK'S ALWAYS CURIOUS ABOUT THE INFORMATION. BUT THAT REQUIRES THE PEOPLE GIVING YOU THAT INFORMATION TO ACTUALLY UNDERSTAND IT, TOO. AND THE PROCESS OF GIVING / TAKING NOTES IS SUCH A VITAL PART OF COLLABORATIVE STORYTELLING. IT IS THE BACKBONE OF GOOD FILMMAKING. AND WHEN YOU HAVE COLLABORATIONS THAT WORK? WHEN YOU CAN FOSTER ENVIRONMENTS WITH HUMAN RELATIONSHIPS? WHEN YOU CAN FIND THAT SAME CONNECTION OVER THE ART? THAT'S WHEN THE BOX OFFICE MAGIC REALLY HAPPENS. MARVEL WON 10 YEARS WORTH OF BOX OFFICE INTEREST BECAUSE THEY CONNECTED WITH ROBERT DOWNEY JR. AND TOOK A POOR STATISTICAL CHANCE.

THERE'S SOME WHO WOULD SAY THIS SPEAKS TO THE OLD IDIOM IN SHOW BUSINESS THAT "NOBODY KNOWS ANYTHING." HULK HATES THAT SAYING. MOSTLY BECAUSE IT'S A VILE LIE. HECK, STEVEN SPIELBERG HAS FORGOTTEN MORE ABOUT FILMMAKING THAN MOST PEOPLE WILL EVER KNOW. WE HAVE CONSISTENTLY GREAT STORYTELLERS ALL AROUND US. BUT "THE NOBODY KNOWS ANYTHING" MANTRA COMES NOT FROM THE ABILITY TO MAKE A TANGIBLY "GOOD" MOVIE BUT FROM THE MISUNDERSTANDING THAT PEOPLE THINK THEY CAN TELL YOU WHAT WILL BE SUCCESSFUL AT THE BOX OFFICE. IT'S LIKE TRYING TO PREDICT THE STOCK MARKET OR BOTTLE LIGHTNING. THERE IS NO WAY TO TELL SUCCESS, BECAUSE YOU CANNOT PREDICT THE EVOLUTION OF TASTE.

SO... ASIDE FROM THE FACT THEY ARE USING SOME BEYOND-WONKY STATS AND "SCIENCE" AND SELLING IT TO YOU AS INSIGHTFUL, ASIDE FROM THE FACT THAT IT'S LOOKING FOR RESULT-BASED ANSWERS TO SOMETHING THAT IS GOING TO INEVITABLY SWITCH THE RESULTS ON THEM ANYWAY, THIS SCRIPT SERVICE IS ALSO SOMETHING THAT MISUNDERSTANDS THE PURPOSE OF STORYTELLING ALL TOGETHER. THEY DON'T EVEN UNDERSTAND WHAT THEY'RE MEASURING.... SO GUESS WHAT? WE ARE LITERALLY TALKING ABOUT A FRAUDULENT SERVICE. SERIOUSLY, LET'S NOT PRETEND THIS IS SOMETHING INNOCUOUS. THIS IS A SERVICE THAT IS BEING POSITIONED AND MARKETED AS INSIGHTFUL STATISTICAL ANALYSIS AND IT IS NONE OF THOSE THINGS. IT IS GARBAGE. A PURPOSEFUL LIE... WHICH IS EXACTLY WHAT FRAUD IS.

SO TAKE YOUR 20,000 DOLLARS AND SPEND IT ON A FANCY ESPRESSO MACHINE OR SOMETHING.

<3 HULK

HEADER IMAGE BY YANNICK BELZIL

Film Crit Hulk's photo About the Author: FILM CRIT HULK WAS CREATED IN A CHAOTIC LAB EXPERIMENT INVOLVING GAMMA RADIATION, TELEPODS, AND THE GHOST OF PAULINE KAEL. NOW HULK HAVE DEEP AND ABIDING LOVE CINEMA.
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