Could music videos be the future of transnational cinema?
One aspect of the silent film era that we often take for granted is the international appeal of early narrative movies. Without the need for subtitles and dubbed dialogue, media pioneers like Charlie Chaplin had little trouble attracting a global audience. Often criticized for not applying for American citizenship, I think it is safe to say that Chaplin's claim of being a global citizen were not empty words. He and other directors of his time believed they were developing a new medium that would transcend national borders.
One thing that we lost when we switched from the "Talkie" to the movie, was a type of culturally ambiguous cinema capable of generating dialogue without the hegemony of language turning one's theater experience into a reminder of one's national identity. Even though, we obviously have a large global film market, synchronized sound still establishes the cultural context in which a movie is made. Therefore very few movies can be described as transnational (or transcultural). Modern global film distribution is international in the sense that movies are sent to and from cultures. How many movies are made for truly global audiences with stories that are meant to explore large universal themes? Blockbusters like Transformers merely appeal universally in the sense that all humans are attracted to visual spectacle. It is as if we only took one half of Chaplin's legacy with us (his slapstick action) and left behind the most profound aspect of his career, the fact that his pictures were philosophically, ideologically, and politically driven.
During the development of Lost Boys, a music video which I produced along with two other directors from France and the Philippines (Paul Marques Duarte and Raphael M. Ubales), we attempted to tell a story that would resonate across national borders. When Matthew Dean Marsh, the solo artist of the song, approached me with an idea to portray young men from all over the world sharing a common conflict of not having a father in their lives, I immediately offered my assistance. This project would be the fulfillment of a dream I had when I first moved to Korea, to produce something poetically transcultural, a work that might lack the visual spectacle of international blockbusters, but reincorporates the philosophical aspect of film that we may have drifted from with the advent of talkies. It makes sense that such a story would be told as a music video, but for me personally this only opens the doors artistically for what the future holds in store for transnational storytelling.
Lost Boys may very soon feel dated as I think many young filmmakers will take advantage of the ease in which files can be shared in the cloud, making collaboration on Skype feel even easier than working together in person. But I will always be proud of what we accomplished bringing together artists from all over the story to talk about the meaning of fatherhood. Being apart of this transcultural dialogue is what makes transcultural film special. I am happy to share this work with anyone with willing eyes and ears.
Lost Boys follows the lives of three young men facing heartbreaking circumstances. The stories in three different countries highlight specific social issues, but also draw attention to a universal need for young people to have an intimate relationship with their fathers. Nearly one hundred creative people volunteered their time and effort because they believed that what they were doing would contribute to the cause of inspiring youth to overcome their hardships with transcultural art.