Barry Jenkins, John August, Director discussed on 1A with Joshua Johnson
Hollywood's golden age, and the solutions are only getting more complicated. We're discussing it with Mike Leshan, the head of the moving image section at the library of Congress's Packard campus for audio visual preservation, Karina Longworth, the host of the film history podcast. You must remember this and John August, the screenwriter behind big fish and the upcoming Aladdin remake. Claudia writes, my mother was a huge fan of the movie Jane Eyre, she bought every version of the movie available except for the one starring Orson Welles and Joan Fontaine, which was filmed in nineteen forty three and was hard to find. She even wrote a letter to then president Ronald Reagan thinking, he would know where to find the movie since he'd been a part of Hollywood eventually after an exhaustive search. She was able to purchase that version after her death. I was given many of her classic movies. And now, the proud owner of every version of Jane Eyre, clearly these movies mean a lot to us. As they mean, a lot to those who worked in filmmaking who work in Hollywood. And now we're pleased to be joined from NPR in New York by berry Jenkins, the Oscar winning director of moonlight which one's the Academy Award for best picture of the year. His upcoming feature is called if Bill street could talk berry Jenkins. Welcome to one A. Thanks for having me. Did you subscribe to fill struck where you remember? I did I did I was an annual subscription member. Yes. What did you get out of using film struck that maybe you couldn't get from net? Flicks ceramahs on prime for me. It was the people behind film struck. It was the the person to person curation it felt like person to person curation it was still an app, but if felt somewhat like streaming version of walking into a blockbuster video or even a mom and pop video store to be honest. It was just it took the streaming platform and made a personal. And this really organic way. There seems to be something berry about the experience of classic or independent or arthouse obscure film. That benefits from curation rather than kind of an algorithm driven personalization, whether it's filled struck criterion or even Turner classic movies. Like feeling like there's a person behind it seems to to make a difference. Does that make sense? It makes perfect sense. I mean, I think it's like anything works. You know, it's why librarians are so important when you go into the library if you just walking through turned discover things might yield something, but to have someone guide you through the discovery process is always much more rewarding. And I think that's what films struck did. So so damn well talk about what these kinds of movies meant for you as an up and coming filmmaker were there certain films, the kinds of films that you would find on film struck on each criterion. That showed up in your work later on. Yeah. There were I remember discovering the work of one car, y which which has been written about many many times over and over again the fluids at one car why on Barry Jenkins. But I discovered it in a random way walking through a bookstore and seeing Quentin Tarantino's face on the spine. Of the VHS tape. Now fast forward to two thousand eighteen or twenty seventeen I should say after moonlight came out. I went and sat down for an interview at film struck to talk about the influence on car. Why had on me? And then you know, what happens some kid watches me giving an interview on film struck knowing nothing about one Kawhi. But now they've been. And invited into this world that I was invited into randomly walking through a bookstore. I think that was where film struck really sort of pushed through the glass ceiling of a streaming could be and I think unfortunately, that we don't get to see two years three years four years from now what that could evolve into. So you kind of were part of the legacy of other people finding the films that you found. I mean, even wants to further, you know, they sat me down and asked me, you know, what are five films that aren't available anywhere that you think are wonderful, and you think people should seeing and I told them and they went out, and they license those films, and they put them on film struck. So it went beyond just the TC where the criterion library. They were really about. Again, you walk into a librarian the librarian goes. So was less than you read that you loved you, tell them, and then they walk you through the stacks and pick out a few other books. You might enjoy. Having foam truck was the same way for for cinema will now I'm curious what were the five films? I recommended a film called uptight, which is a movie made a basically by by ruby. Dee that's a blaxploitation film somewhat. But also like a political thriller, really really dense movie. There's a movie called the summer flying fish Marcellus. I aid screen that can it was her first feature after being a documentary filmmaker really really amazing film little seen. I think a couple of others are recommended were Claritin. Votre vie, which I mean as much as I do. But have it presented anywhere. So few very esoteric movies that I loved, but, you know, even today, we think everything's accessible at our fingertips. So many of these things are not and to have a platform like film struck nut be there to fill that void. It's just so so brutally disappoint. We're speaking to director. Barry Jenkins, the director of blue light of his upcoming feature is called if Beale street could talk some of you mentioned blockbuster as well Beth emailed fifteen years ago, the library where I worked said they didn't want to compete with blockbuster by providing new feature films for patrons. But patriot feedback made them change their minds now blockbusters out of business and the local public library is one of the only places to get a movie that is not available on streaming services, including Disney films, Lionel emailed, even as I listened to your program. I have been frantically watching movies on film struck before they go away berry. I wonder what your outlet is for these kind of films. I mean, you're in Hollywood, right? You've gotta hit movie. You've got another movie coming out. You've won an Academy Award. You have a name your reputation, surely someone like you has other avenues to find these movies. If you really want to see him, right? No, not really the movie by Marcella summer flying fish. I have. Been dying. See it again. I saw it on a festival jury in like twenty thirteen and could never find it. Again. There's a movie called Agua by Veronica chin that I saw in San Francisco at the center for the arts program by Johnny Ray Huston, and I've never been able to see it again. And so no, I don't think so at all I think there's so much information that we assume everything is readily available with us not the case. And and I will say I'm very privileged person. And so I- by Blu rays. I buy DVD's by physical media of all the things that I love, but I'm just one person. And I'm a very privileged person truck was was this place where I wish this website existed. When I grew up because to pay nine ninety nine a month and have basically the history of cinema. Our lease a very large portion and the history of cinema. You know, there was some blind spots on thunderstruck that we talked about what I went in there. But to have that at your fingertips, it's such a blessing. And so, yeah, I mean, no, there's tons of things that I can't watch very let me pivot for just one second. Back to one of our other guests, I do have more questions for you. But John August, I want you to chime in for just a second in terms of access to these movies. Can you give us the break, a basic one? Oh, one of how movie ends up in a streaming service. Like, it's not like net. Flicks are film struck and just say, oh, we liked that and Ripa DVD and post it, right? Now, so back in the old days when Netflix was as subscription service where you are they'd send you a disk in the mail. They were actually buying those disks the same way, you could buy them at the store, they putting envelopes and setting out and that was because of the first sale doctrine, which sell legal concept, where if you buy a physical thing you're able to sell it out this whole thing or low net this whole thing out there. And that's how that is just wanna worked in streaming their licensing the rights to a movie and they're saying okay for certain window of time. We will be able to stream this movie to our subscribers negotiating with studios or whoever owns the rights JAT movie where we're finding is when movies are not available for streaming. It's because those rights are generally muddled, it's not clear who owns those rights or many cases. It's not clear who owns the rights to the music that's in those movies. So as you look back movies are available from the eighties or seventies. It's awesome. Because of the music not the movie itself, Barry, I wonder how you you collections. Like film struck in and others. Particularly because of the gene RAV work that you do. I mean, moonlight was extraordinarily for a number of reasons. I think if for no other reason than it kind of showed people a aside of black life that often isn't portrayed I grew up in south, Florida. So there are a lot of scenes in that film. Like, I know exactly where that is. I know exactly I've seen that building. Like, I knew where you shot that. But I wonder if you feel more comfortable as a contemporary filmmaker about film preservation than maybe in previous generations. I mean, these are questions about legacy and preservation that. We're starting to answer. Right. We are. But, but but actually don't feel more comfortable to be brutally honest. I think there's just so much so much information out there, and to be even more honest to see something like films, which was the foundation of a place where maybe you could sort of like create this vault, you know, for some of these films that as John said, you know, might be tangled because of this because. That film truck was the place that could actively go out and try to solve those issues. And so I don't feel more comfortable to be honest. I think in the wake of this. I feel a bit less comfortable, and I want to piggyback something that John said as well about the license difficulties of some of these films recommended the list of films to film struck. There was a reason why quite a few of them hadn't been placing where was because issues that John described but film struck is an organization of human beings. And so they went out and conflict and other human beings and figuring out a way to get the licenses free and granted are only up for two or three months, but that's wonderful. Because now three months later someone else comes in Iraq, amends, another Eric films and those films share it with a wider audience. So again, I'm sorry, man. You guys are talking to me about something that's broken, my heart. So I'm gonna always end up at this place where like man of six broken, your heart. Why I wanted to film struck several times, you know, there was one time. I went in there, and I was actually sick. And they have a kitchen and someone made me. Like a homemade of ole and leak kind of soup. The offices of film struck the physical offices physical offices. I mean, there's a beam of me and the criterion closet at the phone. Stuck like I think I'm a home team film structure at this point refuse to acknowledge that at any point in time, it won't exist. So, yeah, it's it's it's more personal that way. And that way. And so, yeah, I am heartbroken. We've heard from several of you about owning physical copies of your favorite movies. Mat L writes, my wife chides me for buying DVD's in this age of digital streaming. But I know with a DVD that I own a copy of that film and not just an ephemeral licensed to watch. It Carl writes, I've ordered DVD's from all over the world, but be aware that there are different DVD's zones. They require a special all region player. And Patricia in Chicago emailed. I had a list of about ninety films recent Indies and foreign films reviewed in the New York Times that I missed in. My Chicago theaters or never came to Chicago, no lie out of ninety net. Flicks had only eight. Let me bring in a few of our other guests as we continue our conversation with director, Barry Jenkins, screenwriter and author. John August podcast, host Korea. Longworth host of the film history podcast. You must remember this and Mike machine of the library of congress Packard campus for audio visual preservation, Mike, how much do you run into these kinds of licensing issues in your work? Is it easier for you because you are with the library of congress capital L capital capital C or do you run into the exact same issues as film struck or net flicks? No well in terms of making films available online through our here's a plug recently launched national screening.