A guest on one of my favorite weekly podcasts about filmmaking and new media commented that people were always asking him what software he was using for this, and what camera he was using for that. In other words, what tools he employed to produce his films and videos. "They think that there's some magic tricks that they don't have access to yet," he said. Once they get hold of those tricks, then everything will go faster, cost less, look fantastic, and of course, garner awards and major studio offers.
Making a movie is hard work, and it can go right- or horribly, horribly wrong- for all sorts of reasons that have nothing to do with whether you edited on Sony Vegas or Final Cut Pro, or whether you shot on a Red Camera, or a Flip Video.
I have noticed the same search for a silver bullet in many other areas of life. In the field of personal development/self-help, people always seem to look for a particular guru or philosophy. Dr. Wayne Dyer and Deepak Chopra are leaders in the "personal zen" arena. Suzie Orman and Dave Ramsey are at the forefront of the personal financial advice field. The career field used to be dominated by What Color is Your Parachute in the 1980s. This week's flavor of the month is Tim Ferriss' 4 Hour Work Week.
Even within the walls of Corporate America, leaders still look for a single magic bullet: the perfect software package, the perfect project management methodology; the perfect marketing strategy. In most cases, they would be better served to try many things, understanding that you cannot know until you try, and see what blossoms. As the Japanese say, "Let a thousand flowers bloom."
The latest silver bullet search, though, is happening on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., as lawmakers search for the perfect, painless solution to a massive financial crisis. What this means for Hollywood and for the film industry in general is uncertain at this time. The Great Depression of the 1930s was actually considered Hollywood's Golden Age! But things may be different this time.
I personally think that big-budget Hollywood escapist fare will do very well during hard times, but that does not mean prosperous times for struggling actors, writers, directors, and crew. At $300 million per film, Hollywood can't make many of those blockbusters each year.
As with filmmaking, weight loss, career planning, and personal saving, there is no easy solution, no silver bullet. One can only make a best guess, take action, repeat. Hopefully, we learn something along the way.