The other night I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do for a date.
“How about a film?” he suggested, casually eyeing the Superman poster on a bus across the street. The nearest cinema to me, a magnificent Odeon multiplex, is less than half a mile away. I don’t need to take a bus or a tube to get there. I didn’t even need to get dressed (up). I’m a professional actress and writer, willing to do anything to break into the industry. I just can’t be bothered to set foot in a cinema.
And really, what’s the point? I know that in a few short weeks today’s blockbuster is going to be on iTunes, ready to be bought (and watched over-and-over, on demand, while I’m on my own couch) for slightly less than the price of two tickets to the cinema tonight? Going to the cinema isn’t cost effective. My screen and headphones, while nowhere near IMAX quality are good enough for me.
Hollywood, and the mainstream film industry at large, is about to get slammed, hard. You need only look at what films are being produced to see that the industry knows it’s headed for trouble. If you’ve been wondering why every film seems to depend on CGI, superheroes, natural disasters, and big name celebrities, well, this is the reason.
When anybody who has a phone in their back pocket also carries an HD video camera, just about anyone who can tell a great story can make a great film. Special effects and star quality are about the only things that film studios have access to, that aspiring filmmakers cannot. Like any industry about to collapse, the tactics of spending more money, adding more hype, and appearing more hostile than ever to newcomers ensures that the film industry continues to be that elusive golden city for just a bit longer.
Last week Spielberg came out with the fact that he struggled to get Lincoln made despite having a script written by Tony Kushner and his own massive strongholds within the industry. We live in a world where anyone can make a film and distribute it to millions of people. It’s no surprise that the big studios, who have long sat on top of the industry, now feel threatened.
Instead of going to the cinema that evening we instead watched the documentary Press Pause Play, which is about how technology is democratising nearly every creative industry. Having incredible resources like HD recorders and SLR cameras will change how we tell stories. This is a great time to be an aspiring filmmaker or any other type of artist for that matter.
What remains to be seen is if those who have dominated the industry for so long can adapt.