When Studios Take Control: Creativity Vs. Money

When Studios Take Control: Creativity Vs. Money

Oftentimes we hear about a producer or studio executives changing a product to fit their view - is that always a bad thing?
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Sometimes we go and see a movie, watch a TV show, or read a book and think “so where did that come from?” Like some plot point from out of nowhere, or a character all of a sudden changes without any real buildup. This happens because of either lazy writing or mandates by the people behind the scenes, and it affects most media we consume. From the record label asking for more breakup songs on the next album to studios recutting movies without working with directors, the people with the money really like to get involved and control the production, often leading to a bad product in the end.

Music wise, we often see the same song several times a year. In 1965, every record label was looking for their own Beatles, hoping the happy love songs would outsell the competition, and in 2015, it was all about trying to capture the same success people like Taylor Swift were having in the pop genre. Even the Beatles themselves had issues with this, where oftentimes a certain song would be a hit, so they were requested to write a few more like it – until of course they formed Apple Records in 1967, and produced their own music how they wanted it, considering they were running the show. More an issue with boy bands and pop stars, the label makes the decisions about albums and songs, oftentimes causing the actual artist to be near barred from working on their own music. If a sound works, they'll want that sound across all their musicians – whether it's a specific style or even more cute love songs. Or the label will partner with a movie studio and basically tell an artist to do a song for the movie, and make it catchy – regardless of whether or not they want to do the song for Fifty Shades Freed or not.

Studio meddling also comes into play with the film industry, though sometimes it works out in everybody's favor. For example, the writers behind Rogue One wrote a script in which the lead heroes survived because they felt Disney would not approve of killing off every new character. Rather, they loved that idea, and even called in for reshoots to change the ending to be darker. Meanwhile, we have the DCEU, which three of the five movies were mandated by Warner Bros. - Batman v Superman had to be under two and half hours and set up a Justice League movie, Suicide Squad had to be toned down and the Joker/Harley Quinn scenes cut so that they could sell an abusive relationship to teenagers, and Justice League had to be under two hours and be a lighter tone to compete with Avengers. This negatively effects each film, to a point where a director's cut is needed to actually see where the story was supposed to be. Avengers: Age of Ultron was recut and reshot to tie more into the overall arc of the MCU than be a sequel to the first film, which actually caused Joss Whedon to leave Marvel Studios altogether. Universal became very involved in the production of The Mummy, leading to a forced cinematic universe and now, it seems that project will be abandoned. The Cars sequels happened because Disney demanded they be made to sell more toys. Sometimes yeah, a film studio will have a better idea, such as replacing the directors and hiring Ron Howard to fix Solo, but the track record isn't all that good.

Of course, we have to talk about the literature side of things. The Lord of the Rings was basically ordered by the publisher, as they wanted a sequel to The Hobbit. Tolkien spent almost two decades writing the book, and even then, the publisher requested it be split in three installments to “save paper.” Or when a producer wants to get a sequel to a Broadway show, and it usually fails or is nowhere near as good as the original – namely, Love Never Dies. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child began life as a prequel about a young Harry living with the Dursleys, but J.K. Rowling decided to make it a sequel instead, telling Jack Thorne and John Tiffanny to re-write their script into a sequel to Deathly Hallows. The original American version of A Clockwork Orange is missing the final chapter because the publisher felt the audience wouldn't want to see a full redemption, whereas the British one did feature this chapter – the film was adapted from the American print. However, the publishers are usually not too involved as record labels and movie studios. Of course sometimes they'll demand a sequel or request that some things are changed in order to sell better, but eventually they come around to restoring missing chapters or their reasoning is justified, like changing the description of the Oompa Loompas (yeah, look that up if you want a real product of the times).

Should the studios get involved? Yeah, sometimes they should – but only in a manner in which they just suggest ideas, and the filmmakers don't have to take them. Wonder Woman could have been a very different film if the crew did what the studio demanded before test screenings. Solo would be an “Ace Ventura type comedy” if Lucasfilm and Disney didn't fire Phil Lord and Chris Miller. They need to step back and let the artists and writers and musicians do their own work without being mandated, only getting involved when they absolutely have to in order to make sure their product is going to be the hit they want it to be. Let the singers make the experimental album they want to, let the director keep their vision, allow the author to say “nope, this is how the book is” when they want to change it. If people like the artist, they'll go and get the new media they put out, especially if they know this is truly what they intended for us to see or hear – and usually, that is the best option.

Cover Image Credit: Warner Brothers/DC Comics

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Why High School Musicals Should Be As Respected As Sports Programs Are

The arts are important, too.
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When I was in middle school and high school, I felt like I lived for the musicals that my school orchestrated.

For those of you who don't know, a musical is an onstage performance wherein actors take on roles that involve singing, and often dancing, to progress the plot of the story. While it may sound a little bit nerdy to get up in front of an audience to perform in this manner, this is something you cannot knock until you try it.

For some reason, though, many public schools have de-funded arts programs that would allow these musicals to occur, while increasing the funding for sports teams. There are a few things that are being forgotten when sports are valued more than musical programs in high schools.

Much like athletic hobbies, an actor must try-out, or audition, to participate in a musical. Those best suited for each role will be cast, and those who would not fit well are not given a part. While this may sound similar to trying out for say, basketball, it is an apples to oranges comparison.

At a basketball try-out, those who have the most experience doing a lay-up or shooting a foul shot will be more likely to succeed, no questions asked. However, for an audition, it is common to have to learn a piece of choreography upon walking in, and a potential cast member will be required to sing a selected piece with only a few days of preparation.

There are many more variables involved with an audition that makes it that much more nerve-racking.

The cast of a school musical will often rehearse for several months to perfect their roles, with only several nights of performance at the end. Many sports practice for three or four days between each of their respective competitions. While this may seem to make sports more grueling, this is not always the case.

Musicals have very little pay-off for a large amount of effort, while athletic activities have more frequent displays of their efforts.

Athletes are not encouraged to but are allowed to make mistakes. This is simply not allowed for someone in a musical, because certain lines or entrances may be integral to the plot.

Sometimes, because of all the quick changes and the sweat from big dance numbers, the stage makeup just starts to smear. Despite this, an actor must smile through it all. This is the part of musicals that no sport has: introspection.

An actor must think about how he or she would respond in a given situation, be it saddening, maddening, frightening, or delightful. There is no sport that requires the knowledge of human emotion, and there is especially no sport that requires an athlete to mimic such emotion. This type of emotional exercise helps with communications and relationships.

Sports are great, don't get me wrong. I loved playing volleyball, basketball, track, and swimming, but there were no experiences quite like those from a musical. Sports challenge the body with slight amounts of tactic, while musicals require much physical and mental endurance.

The next time you hear someone say that it's “just a musical," just remember that musicals deserve as much respect as sports, since they are just as, if not more demanding.

Cover Image Credit: Cincinnati Arts

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10 Shows To Watch If You're Sick Of 'The Office'

You can only watch it so many times...

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"The Office" is a great show, and is super easy to binge watch over and over again! But if you're like me and you're looking for something new to binge, why not give some of these a try? These comedies (or unintentional comedies) are a great way to branch out and watch something new.

1. "New Girl"

A show about a group of friends living in an apartment in a big city? Sound familiar? But seriously, this show is original and fresh, and Nick Miller is an icon.

2. "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend"

Ya'll have been sleeping on this show. It's a musical comedy about a girl that follows her ex boyfriend across the country. I thought it sounded horrible so I put it off for WAY too long, but then I realized how incredible the cast, music, writing, and just EVERYTHING. It really brings important issues to light, and I can't say too much without spoiling it. Rachel Bloom (the creator of the show) is a woman ahead of her time.

3. "Jane the Virgin"

I know... another CW show. But both are so incredible! Jane The Virgin is a tongue-in-cheek comedy and parody of telenovelas. It has so many twists and turns, but somehow you find yourself laughing with the family.

4. "Brooklyn Nine-Nine"

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Brooklyn Nine-Nine has been in popular news lately since its cancellation by Fox and sequential pickup by NBC. It's an amazing show about cops in, you guessed it, Brooklyn. Created by the amazing Michael Schur, it's a safe bet that if you loved "The Office" you'll also love his series "Brooklyn Nine-Nine".

5. "The Good Place"

Another series created by the talented Micael Schur, it's safe to say you've probably already heard about this fantasy-comedy series. With a wonderful cast and writing that will keep you on your toes, the show is another safe bet.

6. "Fresh Off The Boat"

Seriously, I don't know why more people don't watch this show. "Fresh Off The Boat" focuses on an Asian family living in Orlando in the mid 90s. Randall Parks plays a character who is the polar opposite of his character in "The Interview" (Yeah, remember that horrifying movie?) and Constance Wu is wonderful as always.

7. "Full House"

Why not go back to the basics? If you're looking for a nostalgic comedy, go back all the way to the early days of Full House. If you're a '98-'00 baby like me, you probably grew up watching the Tanner family on Nick at Night. The entire series is available on Hulu, so if all else fails just watch Uncle Jesse and Rebecca fall in love again or Michelle fall off a horse and somehow lose her memory.

8. "Secret Life of the American Teenager"

Okay, this show is not a comedy, but I have never laughed so hard in my life. It's off Netflix but it's still on Hulu, so you can watch this masterpiece there. Watch the terrible acting and nonsense plot twists drive this show into the ground. Somehow everyone in this school dates each other? And also has a baby? You just have to watch. It might be my favorite show of all time.

9. "Scrubs"

Another old show that is worth watching. If you ignore the last season, Scrubs is a worthwhile medical comedy about doctors in both their personal and medical life. JD and Turk's relationship is one to be jealous of, and one hilarious to watch. Emotional at times, this medical drama is superior to any medical drama that's out now.

10. "Superstore"

I was resistant to watch this one at first, because it looked cheesy. But once I started watching I loved it! The show is a workplace comedy, one you're sure to love if you can relate to working in retail. If you liked the Office, you'll like Superstore!

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