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‘Let’s aim a little higher’: Ben Affleck compares Netflix films to an ‘assembly line’ in impassioned speech

Ben Affleck has called on Netflix to change up its “assembly line” way of producing films and “aim a little higher”.

The actor was speaking at The New York Times’ DealBook Summit on Wednesday (30 November) about the launch of Artist Equity, his new studio with Matt Damon.

During the talk, Affleck said that he wanted his studio to show that “commercial” films could still be well made, with their production teams paid fairly.

When the talk chairperson mentioned that he was interviewing Netflix’s co-CEO and chair Reed Hastings later that day, Affleck – who starred in Netflix action film Triple Frontier in 2019 – explained how Artist Equity would differentiate from the streamer.

“I see no differentiation between commercial and quality,” Affleck said. “If you ask Reed Hastings, [he’d say], ‘Well, we went for quantity to establish a footprint.’

“I’m sure there’s wisdom in that and I’m sure they had a great strategy, but I would have said, ‘How are we going to make 50 great movies? How is that possible?’ There is no committee big enough… you just can’t do it.”

He continued: “It’s a thing that requires attention and dedication and work and it resists the sort of assembly line process. “[Netflix’s head of original films] Scott Stuber is a really talented, smart guy [who] I really like… [but] it’s an impossible job.”

Affleck said that movie bosses were looking at the short-term, but in the long term, putting more time and money into filmmaking would lead to “more people watching things, more people paying for content, more people spending money”.

Affleck in the 2019 Netflix film ‘Triple Frontier' (Netflix)
Affleck in the 2019 Netflix film ‘Triple Frontier' (Netflix)

“It doesn’t mean I’m obtuse to ideas that there’s a bigger audience for action movies than there is for small dramas,” Affleck said. “$120 million for Armageddon, $18 million for Good Will Hunting, I get that.

“Certain genres play more broadly, you can’t not be mindful of that. But also, any of those genres of movies can be better. Let’s do a good one. Let’s make it smart, let’s have it be interesting, let’s surprise the audience, let’s make them care about it.

“I know you can get people to watch people shooting each other and things blowing up because they’re stoned, it’s two in the morning and they’re flipping through Netflix, but let’s aim a little higher than that. Let’s try to find something that people remember 20 years later.”