Shielding Idiosyncrasy from Isomorphic Pressures: Towards Optimal Distinctiveness in European Filmmaking

José Luis Alvarez, Carmelo Mazza, Jesper Strandgaard Pedersen, Silviya Svejenova

Research output: Working paperResearch

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Abstract. This paper advances a microtheory of creative action by examining howdistinctive artists shield their idiosyncraticstyles from the isomorphic pressures of afield. It draws on the cases of threeinternationally recognized, distinctiveEuropean film directors - Pedro Almodóvar(Spain), Nanni Moretti (Italy) and Lars vonTrier (Denmark). We argue that in a cinemafield, artistic pressures for distinctivenessalong with business pressures for profitsdrive filmmakers' quest for optimaldistinctiveness. This quest seeks bothexclusive, unique style and inclusive,audience-appealing artwork with legitimacyin the field. Our theory of creative actionfor optimal distinctiveness suggests thatfilm directors increase their control bypersonally consolidating artistic andproduction roles, by forming closepartnership with committed producer, andby establishing own production company.Ironically, to escape the iron cage of localcinema fields, film directors increasinglycontrol the coupling of art and business,hence forging their own `iron cage'.`[T]he unusual and paradoxical place thatPedro [Almodóvar] has been able to find:we are within the industry but we preserveour peculiarity.' (Agustín Almodóvar,2001).Optimal distinctiveness: `social identity isviewed as reconciliation of opposing needsfor assimilation and differentiation fromothers.' (Marilynn Brewer, 1991).
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationKøbenhavn
Number of pages33
Publication statusPublished - 2003

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