Last week we went back to the San Sebastian Film Festival for it’s 63rdedition, there we participated in the market that is organized in parallel. It’s a forum where production companies offer distribution and television companies their latest productions and where decisions are made regarding what will be screened soon in cinemas and television screens. There we perceived a rather possessive discourse about the audience on the hands of the television buyers to which the production companies offered possibilities of coproduction:
“Even though I love it, my audience won’t understand your documentary”, or “Our public is not interested in this theme” “Unfortunately, my channel is not going for this type of format”
These affirmations made us wonder about the “proprietorship” of the audience. How flexible is the public in the face of different proposals of the same channel? Is it negative that television confronts our opinions and beliefs with ideas, themes and aesthetical preferences different than their “own”? From a creative perspective, we think that placing ourselves further away from our comfort and knowledge zone is an end that the majority of the documentaries that we produce should strive to.
Among the biggest distributors and exhibitors there is a commercial tendency, justified in bigger revenues, to put homogenization and infantilization of the audience first. This wave centers itself in simplifying the narrative and thematical discourses to embrace not only a young, but also a juvenile public. This tendency endangers different languages and thematically original productions that invite the audience towards the permeability of the different and the complex and nourishes an active and critical attitude towards the audiovisual work.
As a production company, submitting to the uniformer pression would be a failure to the inspiring, introspective and critical power of the audiovisual language. We cannot belittle the flexibility of the public. Numerous exhibitors, distributors and televisions have not only shaped this language towards their liking, but have also pretended to represent the wishes of the public. When the truth is, that the have only defended their own interests and fears.
We are convinced of the mental elasticity of the spectator towards languages and approaches radically different to contemporary ones. The change and innovation in the stylistic approximations is not something new, it has always happened, but unlike before, the commercial exigency has been especially fierce, amongst young generations.
The public television and the cinemas attend their own funeral the minute in which television networks choose to omit the new tendencies of a vast, disintegrated and demanding public. Focusing on safeguarding their audience levels and with an older and vaguer public, it seems that they have forgotten the freshness, creativity and intelligence of their audiences. It is urgent, that televisions are permeated by new communication leaders that integrate the multiplicity of the esthetics and discourses without asking the audimeter for permission.