“Beyond every idea of right and wrong, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.”
Many people believe that art, in its various forms, should always represent that which is “good” for us. It should promote the right values, not the wrong values. It must represent a world we are striving for, not the world we actually live in.
I have never seen it as the role of art in society. The art of noticing on a deeper level, and revealing something that’s real within us.
It is not necessary whether that truth is compatible with today’s popular ideology. This is part of the reason why great art is often misjudged in its day, but ultimately endures for future generations; because truth is not a fad, but immutable.
I recently released a short film, “Dread Pirate Roberts,” that puts these ideas of moral ambiguity to the test.
The film is based on the true story of Ross Ulbrichta young man who founded the first darknet marketplace and is currently serving a life sentence for his crimes against the state.
By using only what ostensibly his real-world blog posts as narrative, I let the audience draw their own conclusions about Ross.
The result is incredibly compelling and equally polarizing, which I consider a success.
I remember movies that appealed to audiences in a moral style. Think movies like “Taxi Driver” and “A Clockwork Orange.” They force us to re-examine our sense of right and wrong, allowing us to make our own decisions on the matter.
The answer to the moral question is not revealed openly or conveniently at the end of the film, but instead requires us to make our own judgments. This requires a clear portrayal of a morally ambiguous protagonist and a bit of gymnastics.
Two things seem uncommon in our current culture.
An interviewer recently asked Martin Scorsese what advice he would give young filmmakers trying to succeed in the industry. His answer? “Create your own industry. “
In an increasingly decentralized world, where gatekeepers have less power than ever and distribution continues to democratize, there have never been more ways to get your art seen.
To further the cause of creative expression without corporate oversight, I started a production outfit called Thought crime. The goal is to create a “cinema” serving Internet needs. This means shorter runtimes and quick attention-grabbing.
Most people in the industry look down on Internet content for this reason. I think it’s merely the next iteration of the medium.
“Dread Pirate Roberts” is the first of many projects under the Thoughtcrime banner. I will take time between each project; does not obsess about “likes and subscriptions” but instead with quality and lasting creative choices.
The legacy of “new media” is still being written, and I want to be part of a decentralized future rather than a box office past.
Readers can support Thoughtcrimes’ mission through Patreon.
Daniel Algarin is a director in LA.