How We Got Here: Matt Johnson on BlackBerry | Interviews

Is it arguable that they’re more important now? I worry about movies like this being able to get to an audience in the era of so much streaming noise and so much “content” control. How do you get movies like this to people? I’m worried this won’t get made in ten years because it will all be a content farm.

Yeah. I hope it’s not that way. It seems like, in a way, you’re almost invoking the imprimatur that festivals put on movies like “Blackberry” that give the public license to then see them.

Well, this whole festival exists for word-of-mouth of movies we like. There’s nothing else. That feels more important now than it did ten years ago because it’s so hard to rise above the noise.

You’re absolutely right. But you know, the rise of Letterboxd shows us that there is a growing cinephile audience that is getting younger and younger. I think that audiences are always finding ways to stand out, to have niche tastes. While the internet does level everything, it does also create niche groups. It creates clubs. Discord, Tumblr, and even Reddit, in a broader sense, show us that people are looking to find very specific, very exclusive cliques. I think that cinema is beneficial from that. Now you’ve got people being like, “I love Rohmer, and this is my little Rohmer Club.” It’s cool to like them with these people, and you can help create an identity. If you’re growing up in the ’80s and you’re watching movies in the cinema exclusively or on television, audiences are not responding and seeking these films out in the same way they are now. They’re being more active. It’s become a part of people’s personal branding. People’s Letterboxd are carving out an identity for themselves using their cinematic tastes. And that is new.

It is, but how do we convince the people who put up the money to make the movies that that’s a valuable audience?

Yeah. Again, people need to vote with their feet. Spending money on festivals like this and going to see movies in theaters like this helps. We’re also dealing with the fact that this next generation is almost agoraphobic in keeping away from public spaces in some ways. Just getting out to a theater is getting harder. But, again, I think the secret is just making cultural hot spots—places where you can go to meet people where something is happening.