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May 9 at 8:30am

19 Things Regarding Our Current Culture That Should Completely Alter Your Creative & Entrepreneurial Practice

By Ted Hope

Don't Let The Foxes Get You!

Don’t Let The Foxes Get You!

Note: If you’d like to share this post, this is the shortened link: http://bit.ly/AlterCreative

If we want to move forward, we need to recognize where we are currently standing, and adapt our behavior to the reality we encounter.

Warning: Such recognition, often makes people think everything is getting worse. That simply is not true; that is just nostalgia playing havoc with your perception.  There never were good old days because back then people still needed to find best practices too.  They did not know then what you know now, just as those coming down the pike will have full benefit of all your excavation tomorrow.  So be it.

So…

  1. This is an Era of Grand Abundance.  There are more things to do than ever before. Everything is competing for increasingly limited available leisure time. As many of 50,000 feature film titles are generated on a worldwide basis annually. Good movies don’t get seen.
  2. Movies are not the dominant option for leisure time activities for most peoplePhysical & outdoor recreation, online & video games, live events, and many other wonderful options compete on an equal playing field for consumer’s available time and money.
  3. The past competes with the present as never before.  We have better access to content created decades ago than those that were living when it was being created.  The past has been evaluated more widely or deeply than we can hope the present to be, making it easier to be discovered and connected with.
  4. Content accessibility is no longer an inverted pyramid ending at a blocked spigot, but an open flow of rapidly moving particles with little to grab hold to.  The abundance of content is matched by a complete accessibility to it, anytime, anywhere, on any device.  The options are endless.  There are no barriers to distribution, only to awareness and engagement.
  5. Audiences feel overwhelmed. Everyone everywhere is distracted, deafened by the noise, blinded by the glare.  Audiences no longer know how to discover work that they will most likely respond positively to. We could be digging ourselves deeper into a very deep hole, as we are prone to engage less frequently with that thing when we don’t get the results we desire.
  6. Our available time is more limited than ever before. People work more.  They have more on their agenda.  They have more options than before.  Less and less becomes spontaneous.
  7. The long tail is crushed by the weight of the herd of the new, buried under the tsunami of the now that is constantly being generated.
  8. People crave the authentic.  In the age of both mechanical and digital reproduction, we tend to increasingly value that which can not be recreated.  In an overt consumerist environment, we also start to cherish that which does not need to be sold.
  9. If most things can be time-shifted, delayed, and recorded for later consumption, events that are one-of-a-kind and fleeting are increasingly valued.
The old tools no longer work.

The old tools no longer work.

10. The old tools and practices no longer work, but we are prone to get in a rut of habit, doing the same things, expecting to get past results that stopped occurring long ago.  Newspapers and their influence have decreased, reducing cost effective options for audiences to discover movies.  Even email and social media seem to have less impact than they used to.

11. Although we have access to more, we discover less.  Online, we get stuck in echo chambers of community thought, and have lost serendipitous discovery of the past. We are expansive beings with diverse taste, but we get stuck in ruts of habit. The film business lost its year-round curators when the newspaper business collapsed and film critics lost their job.  Newspapers were engines of serendipitous discovery.

The Vast Connectivity of Today12. The vast connectivity we have — due to the internet and communication revolution — changes everything, including our art & commerce.  Information & opinions can spread faster than we ever imagined.  We don’t live in story beats the way we once did or even still dream we do.  The present becomes a spontaneous sensation as opposed to events with discernable steps towards it.  The narrative of daily life is growing more evasive.  The surrounding volume intensifies.  Do we have a choice other than adapting?

13. We are reminded of our vulnerability more often and more deeply.  Whether it was 9/11/00 or 9/15/08, terrorism and economic collapse influence our decisions and actions in more ways than we probably realize.  We expect something equally traumatizing on the horizon. It is not a land of plenty, but one where the precious might be taken at any juncture.

14. Art, audiences, technology, & business change far faster than markets or industry.  There is tremendous opportunity in this gap for new business and new forms of creation.  The First Mover Advantage is there for our taking.

15. People – and communities — generally only change their behavior when the pain of the present exceeds their fear of the future.  When it comes to the film business, it is reasonable to assume we have come upon a moment of mandated change.

16. People (i.e. Audiences) want greater return on the investment of their engagement than ever before. Americans in particularly expect to exchange their leisure time for intellectual capital, which transforms into social capital. We expect to improve ourselves by our consumption practices.

17. On a personal level, all industries are about people keeping their jobs.  They won’t do something that will risk them losing their job.  In the film biz, often the way to keep your job, is to not make a movie, particularly one that does not have universal support.

18. We have more ways — and thus more opportunities — that we can work collaboratively than ever before. We don’t have to be in the same place.  We don’t need to see or understand the results.  We can gather information that will be analyzed later.  We can all harness the power of many that once was only the domain of the super powerful.

19. Although we are working longer hours at higher level jobs than ever before, due to the nature of our available technology, we have more usable time that we can use to work together to get fast results. Even collaborating remotely, we can see the results quickly.

What have I left off?  Surely there are some things you can share.

Next week, I will offer what I feel we should do in face of the realities of the film business and culture today.  I feel that there are certainly best practices that enable us to have a sustainable creative life.

See also: 17 Things About The Film Biz That Should Significantly Alter Your Behavior

Update: This post originally began with:

Last week at The San Francisco Film Society we launched A2E (Artist To Entrepreneur), a specific line of programming designed to provide filmmakers with the necessary entrepreneurial skills and best practices needed to have a sustainable creative life.  We launched with A2E OnRamp, a workshop to allow filmmakers to budget, schedule, and predict possible revenues for their film throughout the direct distribution process.

Before we rolled up our sleeves to start the practical, I warmed up the crowd with a series of short lectures focusing on what all filmmakers should know about the film biz, the current culture, and recommended best practices for themselves.  Last week I shared with you what we discussed about the film business.  Today, I offer you my rumination on culture in general.  Like the post on the film business, it is easy to dismiss this as generally negative.  That simply is not true; that is nostalgia playing havoc with your perception.  There never were good old days because back then people needed to find best practices too.  They did not know then what you know now, just as those coming down the pike will have full benefit of all your excavation tomorrow.  So be it.

I have removed it so it can be more “timeless”.

 

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  • SayNoToBadPodcasts

    Films need to be made available through 1 source. 1 single, consolidated source that offers every film ever made or ever will be made. Perhaps a fee to download a film and that money goes to the prospective owner. (if it’s independent, to the filmmaker)

    We need a site that isn’t boggled down by property rights. That allows any person with a internet connection to have access to literally every film ever made. That ought to be the future. Not this fragmented, untrustworthy, unreliable v.o.d. world that seems to be still in it’s infancy.

  • Brenda Mills

    Maybe this fits under one of your 19 headings, but I think shortened attention span is a factor as well. We are flitters. If we aren’t pulled in deeply and quickly, we’re gone, on to the next thing.

  • Blake Hodges

    VOD distribution will consolidate for sure, but even so, I’m pretty sure we DON’T want just 1 source for all our films. I guess it’s nice in theory, but the reality of that idea is, well, a monopoly. That source would be able to do or charge whatever they want. Bad idea. If you take the example of short-format web video, I think a site like Vimeo is BETTER because YouTube exists. I like the idea of simplifying things down, but competition will always be needed.

  • http://www.facebook.com/CeeMacRed Chrissy McDermott

    This list and the previous post with the 17 points, remind me of a quote from one of your articles a while back: “Lists like this make the foolish despair.”

    While these points are daunting and sometimes seemingly unsurmountable, I believe this post is ultimately encouraging. To me, this says that one way filmmakers can help mitigate the negative changes in our culture would be to create films that inspire. Furthermore, we can make films that remind us that we can still reconnect with valuable parts of our culture. Parts we may be missing out on while we have an endless stream of media constantly at our fingertips.

    To this, I think filmmakers should say “Challenge accepted. Time to get a little undistracted.”

  • Guest

    IS there a way that a personal movie like this (http://vimeo.com/65691474), and I mean its style, can have a greater application in becoming a trend for independent filmmakers? All I see myself making are diary movies… I’ve never had any luck with festivals, but they seem to be the only people who can get us no-name filmmakers an audience. How a video gets millions of hits is no mystery, it’s just gotta be short and easily captivating… but how should the internet be used to get the kinds of movies I make an audience… I have no idea.

  • Ahmed Khawaja

    IS there a way that a personal movie like this http://vimeo.com/65691474 and I mean its style, can have a greater application in becoming a trend for independent filmmakers? All I see myself making are diary movies… I’ve never had any luck with festivals, but they seem to be the only people who can get us no-name filmmakers an audience. How a video gets millions of hits is no mystery, it’s just gotta be short and easily captivating… but how should the internet be used to get the kinds of movies I make an audience… I have no idea.

  • http://twitter.com/OrnanaFilms Ornana Films

    I feel like the most important question is where to start? Talented, amazing people are already working on the platforms that are necessary for a new model of monetization. Yet, so much of this innovation is coming from the bottom up. Where can we find the support for them? How can we drive a substantial audience, even if we have the right place? Too much of the power and money is still protecting the status quo, because those are the people the status quo is still working for.

    There are more than enough filmmakers willing to help usher in a new paradigm. We need mentoring. We need a support system large enough to change the social tide. There is a false sense of competition right now. We all just need to learn how to push real audiences to each other’s work in the current culture as described above.

  • http://hopeforfilm.com/ Ted Hope

    I like your attitude Chrissy. Right on.

  • http://hopeforfilm.com/ Ted Hope

    I agree 100%. My choice of action is to now build structure instead of making a film. The A2E OnRamp (The Direct Distribution Lab) was precisely that, but yes, now to come up with something that can scale.

  • http://hopeforfilm.com/ Ted Hope

    True that.

  • cj

    I hear concerns from filmmakers (indie and H’wood system) that come from observing the business practices of the past decades of the cyber revolution, chiefly that the creative, small innovators were muscled-out by the leviathans who offered them a pittance for their products and, when the offer was refused, the leviathan gave away the their innovations in a bundle driving them out of business. What will stop the natural alliance of big banks, big tech and big studios from breaking unions and guilds and building a newer, bigger, more exclusive and more profitable version of Hollywood farther to the north?

  • http://twitter.com/OrnanaFilms Ornana Films

    Really looking forward to the last post in this series. The real challenge seems to be as much in cultivating and growing as it does in building. Keep up the great work, it is inspiring.

  • SayNoToBadPodcasts

    We just need that next really big idea in vod distribution. I hate the thought that the status quo of netflix and the like as our paradigm for decades to come.

  • http://twitter.com/CeeMacRed Christine McDermott

    Thanks! The kind words are much appreciated. :)

  • http://hopeforfilm.com/ Ted Hope

    great question, but I remain confident that if we share openly and discuss what happens, we protect ourselves to some degree.

  • Ryan Strandjord

    That’s the key. We can share and learn from each other faster than they can work to block us. They may have money, but we have the power of the people. The more open we are with each other the more we have to gain, thus propelling our projects even further than we could on our own.

  • Ryan Strandjord

    I agree with Blake, one source is not a good idea. The best practice could be teaming up with filmmakers who are creating content for a similar audience as you and then together creating your own platform for distribution. Since your audiences already overlap, why not team up to bolster your ranks?

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