Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Next Film Revolution, Just Around the Corner?

I was following up on a fellow filmmaker's blog this morning and I found a post where he was talking about the current state of the film industry. It was all spawned from an article in Variety talking on the recent news about the potential sale of MGM Studios.

In this current economic crisis, every facet of the feature film industry has been hit hard, even the studios. I mean, movies cost millions upon millions of dollars to make, and there is no guarantee that a film will be successful upon its release, thus this fuels the studios current mentality regarding the franchise. Studios want to take prekissed properties, like Harry Potter and Spider-man, franchises that already have a following, and transform them into films. By doing this, the studios are guaranteed to have some money in the bank. But who is hit the hardest by this current mentality?

The independent film industry is suffering due to the current economic crisis. Bottom line, no one really has the money to invest in these films anymore. If you're lucky enough to secure financing to get one made, there is no guarantee that even if you get into Sundance, Cannes, or Toronto that any Acquisition Executives will buy your film because the small independent film studios, like Miramax, Fox Searchlight, and The Weinstein Company are experiencing the same difficulties of the corporations who own them.

Now this isn't to say that no more independent films are being picked up for distribution, it's just now the studios are having to be more selective. For example, if at Sundance next year there are 15 really fantastic indie gems, more than likely only about 5-7 of those will be picked up for distribution where as in years past it might have been as high a number as 12 or 14 of those films. Does this mean there is no more hope for independent filmmakers? No. It just means that you have to have a five times better product than everyone else to get your foot in the door.

It's obvious that the film industry needs a shot in the arm to carry it forward into the next decade and beyond, but what is that something? A revolution? Some might say that the advent of 3-D is that so-called revolution, and it might be. I still feel we have to wait and see for James Cameron's Avatar before I pass any judgments on this supposed wave of the future, but it is a promising solution. 3-D tickets cost five dollars more than regular 2-D films, already, cha-ching! Of course they cost more to make, so do the math; as well, what will happen if 3-D becomes a staple, what then? No longer will audiences be enticed to see gimicky 3-D movies, they will want substance.

Revolution cannot come into affect without talent. Look at the '70s, probably the most revolutionary decade of film so far, where countless young filmmakers emerged with their ideas from the French New Wave and completely took the world of cinema by storm and saved it from extinction. I believe we're on the brink of another revolution such as this. The studio game is slowly collapsing once more. And what it's going to take is for young filmmakers, like ourselves, to stop waiting around for that perfect opportunity that may never come and make films. It's up to us as the next generation to spur this revolution with our abstract ideas and massive ambition.

This is my challenge for any other fellow filmmakers out there reading this: Let's try and spur this revolution, let's revitalize the film industry, take it by the horns and show that originality and concept aren't dead. The '70s was the most revolutionary decade of film thus far, as we venture forth into a new decade, let us young filmmakers see if we can do better.

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