Grand Majority of movies suck arse - is there a role for UX in cinema?

10 Jan 2011 - 7:54am
3 years ago
6 replies
1422 reads
Queen Catherine
2009

I'm constantly astounded at the increasing inability of "successful" movies to tell stories, build characters, and make an actual point.

<rant>

I'm a firm believer in narrative - essentially a story needs to have a point (of some sort) - otherwise it's fluff-tastic.

This, I believe, is the core of user experience - and if anything, a movie should be an experience. Even if it's an "escape from reality mind-numbing movie" - should it not be crafted as such? If I make it to the end (which has been a rarity lately), then should I not feel some sense of something? Other than WTF did I waste the last 2 hours of my life on.

I refer here to the nature of people - after many years of watching people watching (and making the grave mistake of going to movies with people where I am not able to walk out and savour those hours of my life without being cast as a rude bitch - which might actually be what I am)

1. Those (that fascinate me) who must watch a movie until the end - despite the fact they openly admit 30 mins in that it is boring / irritating / horrific / many other terms that are derogatory to their experience. Yet, they continue to watch the film to "get it done". These people I believe are about having "done" something - the same kind that like to "go" somewhere in order to get a stamp on their passport.

2. Those with the Faith - who will still watch something believing that there is a point at the end. 

3. Those who will attempt to watch, understand it's not their thing, and leave (regardless of whether it's a cinema, rental or download). These people are about not wasting time on things that do not have meaning.

I suppose it's really all about the power of one's reflective system.

But the reality is - there are so many films that are made, watched and paid for - despite their lack of story, acting and ultimately meaning. 

I openly admit that I am a little of a harsh judge when it comes to storytelling -- which I believe is inherent within UX and even moreso - film making. Honestly - my favourite genre used to be Horror, until Horror lost its mojo. No story - just gore and stupid hot girls running up stair-cases to their expectant termination.

My disappointment comes from my recent experience -

Finally having some time off, so excited I was at the prospect of spare time and a few days of Sloth-dom...

I commenced the long awaited "catchup" of all that was awaiting on my hard drive. Several hours later, I gave up trying to find something that engaged me. ... demoralised by a stream of disenchantment with one film after the other. What had happened to on of my true loves (film)?

 

Please challenge me. I believe there may be a need for user experience in Film-making... or am I just burnt?

It seems lost on the studios - for example, a Romantic Comedy in its true form just doesn't cut it. Sure - you're not going to get an epiphany - but comedy should make you laugh, and romantic should make you heartfelt. 

I feel disappointed that such a powerful medium seems wasted. People pay to watch these things - which seems to me a complete rip off the majority of the time (and I exclude the good ones - eg. Inception) in my judgy judgement.

Or - perhaps it is just cynical me.

Love to know your thoughts to diffuse my demoralised state on the state of one of my favourite storytelling mediums

Comments

10 Jan 2011 - 8:41am
Paul Bryan
2008

I think the opposite is true: the cinema should play more of a role in UX.  Audience measurement in the movie industry is much more precise and statistically valid than UX research reported in popular venues (5 users anybody?).  Have you ever seen anyone cry or burst out laughing at a user experience (other than tears of frustration)? People use web sites because they are convenient, and are loathe to pay a single cent for the experience. People watch movies because they want to, and will pay to do so. So, who should instruct whom? 

Paul Bryan

Linked In Group Owner: Digital Design Strategy

 

10 Jan 2011 - 10:32am
vanbinh
2010

I'll play devil's advocate here. You are looking at this from the perspective of the audience. If you were to be employed by the movie studio to select a script and make a movie that will make the most profit at the box office, what will your UX process be? Will the result be any different from what you current have in the theatres?

10 Jan 2011 - 11:05am
kojo
2008

WOW, You almost said it all, I agree with you totally on everything, but one.I feel you just took every thought I had and put them in words, it is not just in movies, in life in general the lack of critical thinking and the domination of populism makes me feel like we live in a world dominated by stupidity...and there is no place for many in it, I do not get people wasting precious life time on watching Adam Sandler for example.


But I managed to come up with a way to accept some movies through dividing the sort of pleasure one gets from watching a movie into:

  • Emotional...good humane story and drama...laughter...etc
  • Visual eye-candy and effects....fiction....
  • Mind challenging ..thriller and movies in languages and or with different cultural specifications..may be horror if it is not too grose and dull


Thus now when I decide to use money and time on a movie, I ask my self WHY will I watch it, what sort of pleasure will I be expecting, One very important thing I never do things cuz the rest of the group are doing it and I have to be there too, even if I would seem odd to them, I remember I was mocked for not wanting to go to a football game or a strip-clubs never found them fun, I guess it comes back to who wants to be sheep/zombie and just follow, and who wants to get the maximum joy from every minute, and not just do things cuz others do them.



The movie experience in my modest opinion has been elevated in many parts of the world, I was in India for some months and tried what they call the golden Lounge, you get to share the hall with only 19 Pax, with a massaging arm-chair, not so many noise not people who just wanna kill time.


I did some studies on non-linear fiction, and met many people from Hollywood, the quality of stories are not getting better cuz of the domination by some, hope that ends for the sake of the industry.


The one thing I did not agree with you is that Inception was not an excellent movie, too long lecturing sessions about the methodology, I felt I am in a classroom, that was quite boring with some breaks, and boredom is my worst feeling.


I hope I did not create a boring story by throwing these few lines, but was well written from your side,kojo

12 Jan 2011 - 6:05pm
Lee Beckwith
2010

I think a lot of film creators would agree with you. It is more the shape of the industry than the creatives. Unfortunately, people would rather have a predictable experience than a valuable one. I actually hear from film makers themselves about this on more than one occasion. The medium was taken over quickly by commercial interests, so the room for experimentation got pushed to the side. I think you underestimate how much ingenuity in creating "User Experience" already exists in film, particularly the good ones. Maybe you could study some films you like, and see why you like it, and how much skill went into creating that movie experience from you. Any medium is going to have a bunch of mediocre stuff, but that's a given.

13 Jan 2011 - 2:06am
cfmdesigns
2004

On Jan 10, 2011, at 5:26 AM, Queen Catherine wrote:

> I'm constantly astounded at the increasing inability of "successful" movies to tell stories, build characters, and make an actual point.

I think that "making a point" isn't always the purpose. Story bows to spectacle, and these things are created by committee. The goal, after all, is to make money first and telling a coherent, meaningful story comes several items further down the list.

> 1. Those (that fascinate me) who must watch a movie until the end - despite the fact they openly admit 30 mins in that it is boring / irritating / horrific / many other terms that are derogatory to their experience. Yet, they continue to watch the film to "get it done". These people I believe are about having "done" something - the same kind that like to "go" somewhere in order to get a stamp on their passport.

There are many other reasons people will stick it out to the end:

  • They hope the movie makers might just pull it out
  • They always finish things (starts with "clean your plate" early in life)
  • They have never learned to turn things off, to stop things that don't work for them
  • It would be rude to other people in the theater
  • No matter how bad this film is, they've sat through worse before

And the biggie...

  • I paid $20 for the movie and the popcorn, by God, I'm not gong to just walk away from that

I firmly believe in the value of reviews and RottenTomatoes percentages and the like -- all taken with a grain of salt, of course. I want to know if other people have said the movie is a pile of puke. (I so would have avoided Eregon and DaVinci Code. Okay, still wouldn't have, since they were free via work, but still.)

So back to your point, I'm not sure what you means by UX applied to movies. Explain more? And do movies differ significantly from TV (the great wasteland) in this regard?

13 Jan 2011 - 5:51am
Paul Bryan
2008

On Jan 10, 2011, at 5:26 AM, cfmdesigns wrote:

> "And do movies differ significantly from TV (the great wasteland) in this regard?"

Agreed. I rarely ever watch TV, but when I do, like during the Georgia snowstorm this week, it makes the movie "Idiocracy" seem less like a satire and more like a documentary.

/pb

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