Film Courage: Keith I’m hearing the word ‘product’ come up a lot and I love it. I love that you are thinking of a film as a product. It’s not just a project, it’s not just something you’ve created (a work of art, whatever). Where are you getting this? Because I’m thinking of a product sometimes as a piece of code someone has written, they’ve turned it into an app (whatever). But you’re seeing a film as a product?
Keith Sutliff, filmmaker: Right. Well, essentially a film, it’s a piece of art, it is. It’s a piece of art that is also a product in the sense that this is a business.
And more people, you make a short film. Usually short films don’t make money, the don’t get distribution, they are not really meant for that, so that is not really something you sell.
But when you get into the feature film world it’s like going from college football to the NFL, you’re going up the ladder where it’s so time-consuming and it’s so much money involved that once you step up that ladder and step up to the plate you’re kind of telling the industry like Hey, I’m ready to…I like making films, I passionate about this or whatever. I’m also here to sell films, too. Because making a feature, they’re a piece of art but also it’s a product in the sense of this is all a business. You’re there to sell as well as make the film so that’s something (the way I see it) it’s a business overall. That’s really what it comes down to.
And if you’re passionate about it and that’s something you enjoy doing, and it’s a piece of art and it’s something that I see that’s also I want to sell it, too. And have people see it (not just make it for a two-year period or however long it takes).
Film Courage: Has anyone ever challenged you over that? “Oh, man. You keep calling your film a product. Can you just call it a film?”
Keith: Not really. I just think that it’s, like I said, if you just want to go make a piece of art and just see it only as just that, then go ahead and make it (your short films) because that’s less time-consuming. But once you’re making a feature, that’s like a totally different animal. You’re spending every waking moment of your life on that thing it seems like (at least for me that’s how it was). Every waking moment of your life, energy, sacrificing friendships (I mean time with friends and family). And yeah, you stepped up to that plate to where you’re passionate about this, but also you want to start selling your films and make it a business. That’s really what it comes down to when you start making features.
So when you’re in that level and that category you stepped up to Hey, I’m a feature film director. You are also a businessman, that’s essentially what you are. If you’re doing short films and you’re just trying to do that for fun, you can try to sell those, too (yes).
But feature films are really what distributors buy into and they’ll start selling and stuff. So at that point you are there to sell something that you’re passionate about and it’s also a piece of art, but it’s the product in that sense.
Film Courage: So calling it a product (it sounds like in your mind) doesn’t diminish the fact that it’s creative and you put your ideas and these different fantasies in your head whatever. But it also means that there is money on the line and there is accountability with it.
Keith: Correct. And I equate it almost to let’s say an engineer makes something. It takes him two years or three years to make it. Almost sure as an engineer or whatever he is doing in that field like he’s passionate about what he likes to do. He might even see it as some type of art of whatever (something that he loves to do, right)?
But also he is there to make this thing and he’s there to sell it, too, at that point. So I kind of see it as that. Like engineers taking this product, taking this piece of work, building it up and then they are putting it out in the market.
So that’s kind of the way I see it in a certain sense, as well. But you’re passionate about it as well and it is a piece of art that is also this. But it’s also this on top of that (a product that is something to sell).
Film Courage: Right, like an inventor from years past.
Keith: Yeah, it’s an invention technically. It’s like making anything technically and then selling it. Taking years to make it, but you’re passionate about it obviously because you wouldn’t take years making it because you wouldn’t spend years making something unless you really enjoyed it.
Question For The Viewers: Do you think of movies you are involved with or create as product?
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