Wed. Feb 28th, 2024


The Neon Demon filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn slams streaming services, saying they’re “overfunded and rotten with money and cocaine.”

Nicolas Wenging Refn, streamers, streaming, film

While at the Venice Film Festival, Drive and Only God Forgives filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn railed against streaming services, saying, in so many words, they’re ruining the art of cinema. Refn spoke passionately about his distaste for streamers during a masterclass at the annual event, saying steaming services are “overfunded and rotten with money and cocaine.”

Previously, Refn said, “Cinema is dead,” but he’s altering his position by fighting for the medium whenever possible. On the subject of streamers, Refn thinks the platform has “kind of saturated everything” and “devalued content to just a swipe.”

Refn directs the series Copenhagen Cowboy for Netflix, uniquely positioning him in a place of hands-on experience to comment on the streaming stratosphere. Not mincing words, Refn said, “it’s incredibly sad and terrifying because art is essentially the only thing – besides, you know, sex, water and happiness — that makes us exist.”

“Even though I projected it was dead a few years ago, it has changed into something we have to fight for,” Refn said about cinema surviving in a fast-paced world of social media saturation and short attention spans. “Theatrical movies are part of what makes us human and experience creativity.”

Refn comments on artificial intelligence, too. “AI is not an artist,” he says with authority. “AI is a product.” WGA and SAG-AFTRA members continue to fight for job security as AI-generating tech threatens to replace essential players in the entertainment industry. Without checks and balances against evolving content creation tools, there’s no telling how studios could use AI in the future.

Speaking to the crowd during the masterclass, Refn touched on what prompted him to become obsessed with filmmaking. Inspiration hit for Refn after a screening of Texas Chainsaw Massacre at the Cinema Village in New York. “It’s a very horrifying film, but it showed me what a movie could provoke. And that was like painting, like a piece of musical.”

Do you agree with Refn about the state of the industry? Have streaming services become too cavalier about how they treat creators and artists? Could AI replace your favorite actors? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

By Dave Jenks

Dave Jenks is an American novelist and Veteran of the United States Marine Corps. Between those careers, he’s worked as a deckhand, commercial fisherman, divemaster, taxi driver, construction manager, and over the road truck driver, among many other things. He now lives on a sea island, in the South Carolina Lowcountry, with his wife and youngest daughter. They also have three grown children, five grand children, three dogs and a whole flock of parakeets. Stinnett grew up in Melbourne, Florida and has also lived in the Florida Keys, the Bahamas, and Cozumel, Mexico. His next dream is to one day visit and dive Cuba.