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Old June 6th, 2007, 09:13 AM   #1
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The Future of Movie Making?

I don't know where to put this, so I thought I'd put it here.

As I look at where film, video and television are today, I see two bizarre trends that make me wonder about the future of visual storytelling, in whatever media it ends up.

On one hand, we have:
- the broadcast networks pushing HDTV, Ultra-HDTV, and beyond, in an effort to justify chewing up large portions of the broadcast and cable spectrum, and to raise the bar (again) to try to cut themselves off from any but the most well-financed independent producers;
- Best Buy hawking $2,000 plasma televisions;
- Hollywood theatrical releases staking everything on opening weekends, and basically serving as the advertising campaign for home DVD sales, or worse yet, for the merchandising;
- traditional outlets for independent producers like PBS crippled by political cowardice, and seemingly content to descend into irrelevance by continuing to appeal to an aging (and eventually dying) demographic;
- the level of inanity, ineptitude, disinformation, poor storytelling, bombast and hype in both Hollywood movies and broadcast television sinking to ever-increasing lows.

On the other hand, we have:
- a whole generation of kids who, far from clamoring for HDTV (or any television, for that matter), are watching low-rez video on cel phones, laptops and portable gaming units;
- YouTube and their ilk on the internet, which essentially let anyone show anything. A fine thing, however, their disorganzation and complete lack of any intelligent searching capability, make them a far cry from "video-on-demand," but more "video-by-random-selection," or "video-by-word-of-mouth;"
- "filmmaker" now becoming as cool as "rockstar" was to an earlier generation, unleashing a torrent of "On the Lot"-type wannabes, posers and hacks --devaluing both the young kids and old farts of genuine talent and dedication to produce thoughtful, interesting work;
- a whole new industry of sharks dedicated to making money off the hacks and thoughtful young filmmakers both, including fraudulent festivals that take your money, but never show any films. Or, well-financed festivals that pay lip-service to developing new film-makers, but in reality, rely almost exclusively on films that already have distribution and studio backing. In the midst of all that, there are still dedicated people spending hours of volunteer and low-paid labor to produce homegrown festivals and microcinemas featuring astonishing independent films of extremely high quality.

Meanwhile, you have the problem of audience burnout, after being subjected to inundation of media blaring at them from every corner of their lives. (Have you tried to find a public place that doesn't have a T.V. going 24 hours a day, lately?) How will they ever know if a really good, independent DVD came out? Who would blame them if they didn't care?

So, as a (rapidly aging), underfinanced movie maker dedicated to making thoughtful, intelligent movies, I wonder... where does this all lead? Will I still be doing this 10 years from now? Will anyone be watching?
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Old June 6th, 2007, 02:11 PM   #2
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I ask the same questions and rant on the horribly bad brainwashed trendiness of media these days and get then censored on this very forum.
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Old June 6th, 2007, 03:17 PM   #3
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Unfortunately, my answer is this:

we make movies because we make movies.

Sorry about that, it sounds like an oversimplification, but it's not and actually it's the best answer I can come up with:

we want to make movies, so we do.

The professions, bizzes, marketplaces, hypsters, and the like, all evolve and revolve around us, the people who actually do make the movies.

Used to be that making movies was fairly expensive and very daunting.

It's not fairly expensive any more, but it is just as daunting (I'm talking feature length productions here).

So there will be more people who wanna, and tryta, but only us regular folks who get selected out by sheer obstinacy, determination, perseverence, RTFM'ing, whatever you want to call it, who actually put the hours into making the stuff that we want to watch, that we are willing to put our own names to, those of us who put some sense of value in our own names.

Now what value that is, what expression that is, well, that's all as it should be, IMO.

More people get invited to a party that's getting exponentially cheaper to attend means the pyramid of partygoers becomes bigger and its base larger.

On the top are, well, the people who were probably there when the pyramid was smaller.

It's up to each of us to choose which level we're happy to party at, and to recognize that the pyramid's a big enough place for all of us.

Notice I'm talking about the future of movie making, which is the stated subject of this thread, not about movie promotion, selling, distribution, criticism or any of the activities satellite to, but not central to, our issue here.

Nor am I talking about the "movie business" of movie making, which is, in America at least, theatrical in nature, and so akin to vaudeville, the circus, and like enterprises. And used car lots, and real estate, and...

The actual process of film making is that of putting programs on a screen.
Any screen. Any size. Anywhere. And any program, ultimately.

Whether it gets better or worse?

Well, consider this - the average must , by definition, get worse as the pyramid gets larger. That's an inescapable fact, same as if you opened up university entrance to all comers.

However, by that same token, the pyramid's getting bigger - and taller. Much taller.

So even if the pointy bit at the very tip top is still only a few filmmakers wide, look how high they get to go these days...
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Old June 6th, 2007, 03:42 PM   #4
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O.K., Chris, good points. I generally agree with the "we make movies because we have to" point of view. You could, I suppose, say that about any art form. And I'm not one of those folks who feel that I have to be in the movie theaters or on broadcast television to feel like I've "made it."

But here's what's got me scratching my head. The pyramid of movie-makers is getting taller and wider, as you say. But what's happening to the pyramid of movie WATCHERS? It seems that one is getting narrower and shorter, (or at least more distracted.) More makers + fewer watchers = harder and harder to find your audience. Maybe I should have retitled this thread to something like "future of Movie Making and Watching."

I'm just wondering if we're becoming the equivalent of the stipple-portrait artists the Wall Street Journal uses instead of photographs: quaint practicioners of an increasingly irrelevant artistic technique.
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Old June 6th, 2007, 03:47 PM   #5
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Brian

Nah, the number of people watching is growing too.
We just hit three billion, remember?

The entire thing is growing.

This means that there will be more movie theaters showing more feature films, more television stations showing more shows, more web channels...

Just more of everything.

Better?

Well, that depends on who you ask and what they think "good" is, correct?

If you look at the pyramid model, there's a lot more people who look at "good" from down under than from up top.

But then the top's always been rarified, right? Isn't that the way it's always been?
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Old June 6th, 2007, 05:10 PM   #6
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My 2 cents.

The vast majority of all movies currently being made are completely boring to a wide general audience. All of us could go our entire lives without watching ANY of them and still lead full, productive, enjoyable lives.

Occasionally we get misled into seeing one of the big budget time-wasters - or talked into watching one of the "LITTLE" ones a friend, or a class, or a cinema group produces or digs up - and while that particular film might be interesting to us as individuals because we have a personal connection to it - to the general audience, it's quite often waste of time for them to watch it because it teaches nothing and/or delights not at all.

A small fraction of this giant onslaught of movies are intrinsically interesting to a wide variety of people. They are the movies EVERYONE is aware of. At best, a few dozen a year, out of tens of thousands made worldwide.

And I personally believe it's ALWAYS going to be this way.

History tells us so.

There are also SCADS of books, and musical compositions, and plays, and other works creativity written every year - and everything I said above is just as true about them.

It's just the way it is.

Sorry.
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Old June 7th, 2007, 12:42 PM   #7
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I also make movies because I want as many people to see them and be entertained by them. Otherwise, what are we doing it for? Expensive gifts for the family and friends?

Whatever happens with the way we make them and how we distribute them, there are always the constants:

1. You need a solid script and cast.

2. You need a crew to make a quality film, even if it's 3-5 people.

3. You need to distribute it to get people to watch it and buy it. You should to pay back debts, investors, etc., and make a profit (if you wish).

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Old June 7th, 2007, 01:26 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Standing View Post
I don't know where to put this, so I thought I'd put it here.

As I look at where film, video and television are today, I see two bizarre trends that make me wonder about the future of visual storytelling, in whatever media it ends up.

On one hand, we have:
- the broadcast networks pushing HDTV, Ultra-HDTV, and beyond, in an effort to justify chewing up large portions of the broadcast and cable spectrum, and to raise the bar (again) to try to cut themselves off from any but the most well-financed independent producers;
- Best Buy hawking $2,000 plasma televisions;
- Hollywood theatrical releases staking everything on opening weekends, and basically serving as the advertising campaign for home DVD sales, or worse yet, for the merchandising;
- traditional outlets for independent producers like PBS crippled by political cowardice, and seemingly content to descend into irrelevance by continuing to appeal to an aging (and eventually dying) demographic;
- the level of inanity, ineptitude, disinformation, poor storytelling, bombast and hype in both Hollywood movies and broadcast television sinking to ever-increasing lows.

On the other hand, we have:
- a whole generation of kids who, far from clamoring for HDTV (or any television, for that matter), are watching low-rez video on cel phones, laptops and portable gaming units;
- YouTube and their ilk on the internet, which essentially let anyone show anything. A fine thing, however, their disorganzation and complete lack of any intelligent searching capability, make them a far cry from "video-on-demand," but more "video-by-random-selection," or "video-by-word-of-mouth;"
- "filmmaker" now becoming as cool as "rockstar" was to an earlier generation, unleashing a torrent of "On the Lot"-type wannabes, posers and hacks --devaluing both the young kids and old farts of genuine talent and dedication to produce thoughtful, interesting work;
- a whole new industry of sharks dedicated to making money off the hacks and thoughtful young filmmakers both, including fraudulent festivals that take your money, but never show any films. Or, well-financed festivals that pay lip-service to developing new film-makers, but in reality, rely almost exclusively on films that already have distribution and studio backing. In the midst of all that, there are still dedicated people spending hours of volunteer and low-paid labor to produce homegrown festivals and microcinemas featuring astonishing independent films of extremely high quality.

Meanwhile, you have the problem of audience burnout, after being subjected to inundation of media blaring at them from every corner of their lives. (Have you tried to find a public place that doesn't have a T.V. going 24 hours a day, lately?) How will they ever know if a really good, independent DVD came out? Who would blame them if they didn't care?

So, as a (rapidly aging), underfinanced movie maker dedicated to making thoughtful, intelligent movies, I wonder... where does this all lead? Will I still be doing this 10 years from now? Will anyone be watching?
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When to the sessions of sweet silent thought
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Which I new pay as if not paid before.
But if the while I think on thee, dear friend,
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Old June 7th, 2007, 02:02 PM   #9
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Mmmmmm...... that Bill the Shakes. He could write, couldn't he? Thanks for that, Mike.

On my darker days, though, I watch the T.V., and I recite this to myself:

"Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow
creeps in this petty pace 'til the last syllable of recorded time.
And all our yesterdays but light the way for fools to dusky death.
Out! Out, brief candle. Life's but a poor player who struts and frets
his hour upon the stage and is heard no more.
'Tis a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury
signifying nothing."

William Shakespeare -- "Macbeth"

Pretty much sums up network television, doesn't it?
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Old June 7th, 2007, 02:06 PM   #10
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It's the old conundrum: Creativity Vs Technology

Movie making began as a technology, really ... the people who developed it where more interested in the process. The Lumiere Bros never envisioned masses of people watching their product; they just wanted to see if they could do it. From there, you have a fairly linear evolution ... as the technology became more viable, the creative types saw an opportunity to use it; as the product became more creative (interesting) more people were interested in watching it

Same with TV. Very first attempts at broadcast were to see if the darned thing worked. From there, it was a question of: What do we do with it. Generally, early TV did not try to emulate movies too much because of tech limitations and because of a belief that video could never catch up to the quality of film. But, as the tech of TV became more streamlined, more creative types saw opportunities for expression and therefore an audience developed. Once more, a fairly linear development.

That was pretty much how most tech worked

Things are different now .. new technology seems to be pouring out at this frenetic pace; it doesn't seem very linear at all. While broadcast is developing HDTV, carriers are working on broadband wi fi, while manufacturers make smaller, cheaper cams and the net opens up the doors even further ...

Some of this is due to globalization and the spread of communication; you don't have to wait till one audience finds your tech .... you can toss it out to so many people all at once. It also has do due with youth and youthful impatience .. I work with lots of young people and, with no disrespect intended, they have this "baby bird" attitude ... open your mouth and wait till something interesting drops in but you don't have to wait too long .. keep chirping and something will surely drop. Its a multi tasking attitude .. I'll take that, but I want that at the same time

And, of course, consumerism rears its shaggy head. As things get faster and cheaper, as the world comes right thru the doorstep and into your lap, someone will always rush out to meet it.

Speilburg makes a movie in 35 mm for release on a big screen in a movie theatre. While he makes the movie, he makes a couple of "behind the scene" docs to feature on the DVD that will go to the stores later on. While he cuts his movie, he tags the "deleted" scenes that will go on the special edition disc to be released later. He has Hi Def vid cames shooting along side the film cameras for a TV special ... and he is building the promo website before shooting begins

Keep your mouth open. Chirp really loud
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Old June 7th, 2007, 02:26 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Standing View Post
Mmmmmm...... that Bill the Shakes. He could write, couldn't he? Thanks for that, Mike.

On my darker days, though, I watch the T.V., and I recite this to myself:

"Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow
creeps in this petty pace 'til the last syllable of recorded time.
And all our yesterdays but light the way for fools to dusky death.
Out! Out, brief candle. Life's but a poor player who struts and frets
his hour upon the stage and is heard no more.
'Tis a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury
signifying nothing."

William Shakespeare -- "Macbeth"

Pretty much sums up network television, doesn't it?
Yes, the young guns should slow down a read some old stuff.
I remember seeing a movie about a teacher trying to get
through to his students.....they were all metal thrashers and
one day the teacher said hey I want to run these lyrics
by you....he read something from Shakespeare and they were
blown away....they didn't know it was a poem written 400
years ago until the teacher told them who wrote it.
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Old June 7th, 2007, 02:32 PM   #12
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Here's where I get to pull out my "Velvet Elvis" metaphor.


The reason some people paint pictures of Elvis on black velvet - Is because ENOUGH PEOPLE BUY THEM.

Hence, the crap that gets made.

I think of myself as a storyteller first and foremost. Sometimes I use the written word, sometimes the spoken word and sometimes the 'captured image'. But the whole purpose of my craft is to communicate my ideas, feelings and - yes 'vision' of the world - TO the world.

More people have the ability to mass communicate cheaply. Yes.
More people creating mass communication. Check.
More people have ACCESS to vast ammounts of media - okay, the 'pool' is growing at the same time... so things SHOULD even out. Right?


Wrong.


There are still only 24 hours in a day. Always was, always will be. The ammount of time any one person can spend wading in this immensely deep media pool - searching for what interests them - is smaller and smaller. You pointed out how poorly YouTube is in trying to find what you want. I think that's going to change.

"Back in the day" people went to all the movies, cause that' was easy to do. Now, people 'specialize' in what they want to see. I don't care to see a slasher/horror film. Not the least bit interested in the genre. They'll never make a dime of of me. Love action and special effects, yup, I'll buy into the latest blockbuster. Love romantic comedies, IF I like the stars... so I'll pick and choose.


Marketing is the most important skill we all lack. (Speaking for myself.) In this vast and expanding world of media, it is getting increasingly difficult to find OUR AUDIENCE. That's the ticket to the second part of the creative conundrum. Sure, we create because - by God we're alive, and it's what we were meant to do. But SHARING our creation is the hardest part... Let alone making enough money to create anew. But such has ALWAYS been the artists lot. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
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