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OK, boys and girls in filmschool, today I am going to show you how to instantly recognize a Certified Arrogant Indie Asshole™® of a filmmaker in the American indie film industry. After wasting everyone’s time, effort and money on tanked projects, these Certified Arrogant Indie Assholes ™® continue to talk about themselves in glowing terms, refusing to admit they were wrong, refusing to take responsibility for being irresponsible with investors’ money, while spewing self-inflating crap very similar to this:

“Indeed, Æon Flux ultimately made $25.9 million domestically and $52.3 million worldwide, a costly and embarrassing flop for Paramount.”

Kusama’s agents told her in a singsong, jokey tone that she was “in movie jail now.” It’s an industry term for the fate of filmmakers who helm a box office bomb, and the implication is that, eventually, you’ll be released from movie jail.

“It’s the sense that each movie represents some kind of finality, potentially, to their career, as opposed to the sense of you have hits, and you have misses. That’s called being an artist.”

“I know when I sit in these studio meetings — I’m not afraid to say this — I’m one of the smartest people they’ve ever met, and I’m certain it’s terrifying [for them],”

GET OVER YOURSELF LADY! Also, someone please find me one interview where Darren Aronofsky, Christopher Nolan, Steven Soderbergh, Richard Linklater or any of the other men name-dropped in this article are claiming to be the smartest guy in the room like Karyn Kusuma does, bragging that their superior intelligence is scaring the studios. Arrogant statements like this make you sound like a self-absorbed asshole artiste, irrespective of sex. As for the ridiculous claim that male filmmakers supposedly get a free pass to fail over and over and waste investors’ millions  like Kusama did “because I am an artiste and I should be allowed to have misses, it’s called being an artist” (ON YOUR OWN DIME LADY!), tell that to Adam Rifkin who tanked with The Dark Backward and never made another feature movie again. Tell that to Samuel Bayer who tanked with the Nightmare on Elm Street reboot and never made another feature movie again. So no, this myth that men get a free pass to fail time and again in Hollywood just because they are male is a lie.

Now, with regards to Karyn Kusama’s tanked Aeon Flux project and the long shadow this epic #FAIL cast over the rest of her career, the author of this article ridiculously claims that “Zack Snyder went from making Legend of the Guardians ($140,073,390) and Sucker Punch ($89,792,502) to making Man of Steel ($668,045,518)”. Actually, Zack Snyder went from making 300 ($456,068,181) and Watchmen ($185,258,983), two successful comic book based movies, to making Man of Steel ($668,045,518). Even Zack Snyder’s most #failed project, Sucker Punch, made more money than any movie Kusama has ever made. The author of the article then goes on to write: “After David Fincher bombed with Alien 3, he made Seven.”… but Alien 3 didn’t bomb. Alien 3 made $159,814,498 with a 55 million dollar budget. Since when is making 3 times your budget considered a bomb? Not too bad for Fincher’s first feature movie. Something tells me the author of this article is just blindly repeating bullshit examples that Kusama fed him during the interview without fact-checking whether any of these claims are true. Serenity didn’t bomb, it was a close call, as was Zathura. The Frighteners wasn’t Peter Jackson’s first big movie, that was King Kong, and he had already made Heavenly Creatures before that, and the fact is that The Frighteners managed to earn back its money. Literally the only example in this list that bombed hard the way Kusama’s Aeon Flux did was Apt Pupil. How dare she compare herself to male filmmakers who did way better on their projects than she did on hers.

Now let’s look at what actually happened with the Aeon Flux #FAIL. Kusama, then a 30something newbie with no sci-fic experience, seemingly out of the blue was given a XL-sized million dollar film despite having no prior experience whatsoever with a multi-million project or with a project involving a super-hero character associated with an existing media product. Why give such a huge project to a newbie like her and not another more experienced filmmaker? Am I the only one who sees the gaping hole in this story? Something tells me that the studio went shopping around for a director and all the others they had approached (probably all men and more experienced filmmakers) had turned Aeon Flux down. Why would these other filmmakers turn it down? Because the screenplay was lousy. Peter Chung, the maker of the Aeon Flux cartoon, has stated that he had a bad feeling about the movie after reading the screenplay. Everyone who is serious about filmmaking knows that you can’t make a good movie out of a lousy screenplay, period. Kusama can complain all she wants about the studio cutting 30 minutes out of her movie, but something tells me everyone but Kusama, the self-declared smartest girl in the room, had already recognized that Aeon Flux was a kiss-of-death project. Gee, maybe the self-declared smartest girl should’ve taken a hint from all these male filmmakers instead of seeing dollars&stars? If I was a newbie filmmaker and I was handed a huge-ass sci-fi project that everyone around me was turning down, all my alarm-bells would be going off.

And to add insult to injury, Kusama ends up falling in love with one of the two MALE screenwriters who wrote the lousy Aeon Flux screenplay that Peter Chung said was bad news from the moment he first read it and made him feel “humiliated” when he saw the end result on screen. Quoting from an IMDB review of Aeon Flux: “The only possible conclusion is that the real writer for this movie was a high school kid, and that he wrote it the day before it was due to the studio execs, and he’s never seen an entire Aeon Flux all the way through. The overwhelming amount of inconsistency with the cartoon is baffling.”. Everyone who has ever been to LA knows that losers of a tailfeather in the Los Angeles indie film industry tend to flock together.

So no, I’m totally not buying this “Hollywood’s sexism crushed this visionary female filmmaker” narrative. Don’t go around blaming sexism when you are too arrogant to admit you foolishly took on a project that everyone else (with a dick?) wisely foresaw was a kiss-of-death project because of the screenplay.

What is the moral of this Karyn Kusawa Aeon Flux #FAIL story, boys and girls?

1) You can’t make a good movie out of a bad screenplay. PERIOD. When the screenplay stinks, just say no. Don’t marry the screenwriter.

2) Avoid anyone who claims they have a right to waste investors’ money because “I am an artiste and I have a right to fail, it’s called being an artist“. No, that’s actually called being irresponsible with investor’s moneys. A big commercial movie with a multi-million dollar budget is a profit-making business venture. Not art. You can make art and fail hard on your own dime.

3) Avoid anyone who claims they are the smartest boy/girl in the room like Karyn Kusama does in the above interview. Always be humble and remember you can learn from people who will never know as much as you. Being arrogant and self-important in the aftermath of failure is not feminism or assertiveness. It’s called being delusional.

4) Yes, there is sexism in Hollywood, but that has as much to do with the audiences as it does with those who hold the purse-strings. Read this list of TV shows that failed in 2014-2015, and you will see that several of these failed shows were trying to be a form of diversity programming. The undeniable fact is that diversity-projects tend to flop despite the best of intentions because of audiences themselves not wanting to change their viewing-habits. It’s OK to admit this. All it means audiences have to become more progressive along with Hollywood.

5) If you are a filmmaking newbie and aspirant and one day Hollywood approaches you of the blue, inviting you to helm a huge sci-fi project that all the older and more experienced male filmmakers they had approached before you have already turned down… wipe the stars and the green from your eyes and just say no. Learn to recognize a kiss-of-death project. (see #1)

6) NO, male filmmakers do NOT get a free pass to fail over and over again and waste investors’ money just because they are men. That is a myth.

7) Weaponized Femininity is not feminism

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