Who isn’t an excited for a question and answer session? It’s the closest thing you’ll get to having an actual conversation to your favorite artists; a chance for the creators to have some sort of link to their adoring fans. Such conventions as the San Diego Comic Con and the Sundance Film Festival have become well known for the Q&A’s almost as much as the films/footage they will show.
Like most movie fanatics, I scour the internet looking for the next time a fillmmaker I love will be showing up to do a little Q&A. With ticket in hand I bound to the venue with immense excitement, and then it begins and my heart plummets.
I have now been to a good five-six Q&A’s/panels and I can honestly tell you each gets worse than the last. Q&A’s have become a breeding ground for nothing but moronic questions, people desperately seeking their five seconds of fame, and on the rarest occasion a terrible interviewer.
“Will there be a sequel?” (War Inc.), “How come you wouldn’t take my screenplay on the way in?” (Red State), “Can you tell me why I hate Skylar?” (Breaking Bad), “What was it like to fight your best friend?” (The World’s End), “Do you think this has all been a prequel to ‘Malcom in the Middle’?” (an overused joke said at a different Breaking Bad panel) These are just a small chunk of the sheer lunacy you will get when you go to one of these panels.
Why does this all happen? Is it sheer nervousness? Or is it the downfall of our intelligence? I honestly can’t say anymore, maybe I’ve just been on a bad streak; but I think it comes from something bigger.
We as people are desperate for attention, and instead of taking the time to ask a well thought-out question, people rush to the mic sheerly so they can talk to someone famous. No one takes the Q&A’s seriously, which is a damn shame because if they were they could probably be something enlightening for both the fans and the creators.
The best Q&A I ever attended was for the premiere of “Upstream Color.” The enigmatic film left so many audience members speechless (or maybe they just really hated it) to the point where it seemed like they were afraid to ask director Shane Carruth the wrong thing. The result were actual interesting questions for the most part. I was one happy lad.
So, recently, I’ve been trying to avoid these things, so when I heard David Lynch was doing a panel at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (a conversation, not a Q&A) I was excited because it seemed like the chances of audience questions were slim. My plan was thrown right in my face as this time the interviewer was trying to one-up David Lynch’s surreal/bizarre style through the very questions he was asking.
The result was an unspeakably bad/uninformative conversation featuring roughly fifteen minutes of the interviewer reading passages to Lynch, getting very close to Lynch himself (as in he literally kept leaning forward in his chair), and many horrid uncomfortable pauses. My fear of Q&A’s had come full circle as now simple panels were being devoured by people who must use complicated words and phrases to try and sound above everyone else.
The reason for this rant is I think we as filmgoers should strive to make these Q&A’s better than they have been recently. You’re not going to become a famous writer trying to call out Kevin Smith when he’s trying to promote his movie, and subjective personal questions like your hatred for a character is only going to annoy someone like Vince Gilligan who has time and time again defended Skylar.
In closing it’s ultimately up to us to improve these things. We can’t get rid of Q&A’s because they’re something that is the only links we can have to the art we love in a deeper way by personally connecting to whoever put that art out. They’re willing to listen, we should oblige them in more creative ways than the current climate of questions.