June 16, 2017
“It Was Pretty Shocking”: Judd Apatow’s Talks Sony’s Clean Movie Initiative
In the span of a few weeks, Sony has quickly learned what happens when you announce a plan to offer drastically cleaned up versions of your movies, without consulting the filmmakers. The backlash was swift, and ever since, Sony has backed down, partially from the controversy, and partially because the whole endeavor might in breach of DGA rules. One of the most vocal opponents of the plan was Judd Apatow, and in a thoughtful interview with The Frame, he breaks down why this issue is so important for filmmakers.
From the start, the director and producer says the communication about this plan was poor, which made the news all the more difficult to swallow. Moreover, the cleaned up television and airplane edits are something that most directors tolerate as part of the business, but certainly don’t want representing their intentions for a given film.
“I think I learned about it on Twitter and my reaction was, That’s crazy. It’s certainly very offensive to all of the filmmakers. All you care about when you make your movie is that when you’re done, nobody’s going to screw with it. And it’s the most basic agreement you have with the studios. So it was pretty shocking,” he said.
“And I know how these things happen. I think that all studios are looking for every possible way to monetize these movies. But the versions of movies you see on airplanes or on television are bastardized versions of the movies. We hate that these versions exist,” Apatow continued. “It’s part of the business that existed before we entered it. But it’s certainly not something we want mass distribution on. We want to send people to a platform where they can see the movie the way the director intended it.”
The latter point is one that Apatow stresses, noting that even when he takes a thoughtful approach to clean edits, it’s not the version he wants to represent his work.
“A lot of it has to do with how much time you want to put into it. They consult with the directors and, if you’re organized and thoughtful about it, you could do a massive recut to your movie so it’s not awful when it’s seen on network television or somewhere where they need to edit it. Sometimes in my films, I’ll go through the dailies and instead of just bleeping out words or doing bad word replacements I’ll look through all the dailies and see if, Did we do any jokes that we can get approved and are clean enough? And on a few movies, I’ve done, you know, big recuts so that I wouldn’t want to kill myself when these movies are on network TV. But they’re still pretty far from your original intentions,” he explained.
Sony still has the plan in place, but they are allowing filmmakers to opt out, and Apatow has pulled his movies, where he served as producer, out of the mix. Listen to the full talk below.