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February 6 at 8:15am

Abundance Does NOT Mean TOO Many

By Ted Hope

The film industry is having difficulty grappling with reality.  Globally, we generate far more films than we currently consume.  Many industry thought leaders respond by saying we make too many films.  Such statements obscure the truth.

The entertainment economy is transitioning from a mass market enterprises to one of targeted niches. In the process we are expanding from an industry that relied on three platforms — theatrical, broadcast, physical — to one that embraces a fourth, albeit one that is fragmented in an vast number of ways. The online world is made up of TVOD, SVOD, AVOD, as well as DTO, P2P, and numerous social media extensions.  It is a totally different business and culture. I have pointed this out time and time again. Luckily I am not close to being alone in this regard, and maybe one day soon all of our thought leaders will wake up to this reality.

  • We are not making too many movies, but we are doing a piss poor job of matching people with the work that is most appropriate for them at any given time.
  • We are not making too many movies, but we are doing a crappy job at exploiting the unique aspects of the context, presentation, and engagement across the platforms that we are utilizing.
  • We are not making too many movies but our press outlets are not keeping up with the times and generally only reward films that open theatrically, instead working to highlight the worthy regardless of the platform they launch on.
  • We are not making too many movies, but we do not yet know how to best customize our marketing practices to extend the lifeline of any given work — and our film schools do little to teach it.
  • We are not making too many movies, but we are not yet taking full responsibility for the work we generate.
  • We are not making too many movies, but we are not sufficiently helping the artists to determine how best to engage with the audience.

Get the picture? It is not about abundance, but about how we deal with it.  But deal with it we must.

Tim Wu in The New Yorker got it right when he said on how indie & all film culture is in ” a process of cultural migration—a shift from a single mass culture surrounded by small subcultures to one dominated by large islands of fandom. The culture and technology, however, are ahead of the business models, and the challenge of connecting niche content with niche audiences remains daunting. But every year, the barriers seem slightly fewer, and the Gibraltars of American entertainment slightly less forbidding.”

The point is we need solutions.  Which means we must experiment. And take risks. Share. And step by step we will build it better together.

It is not the same business it once was.  And it shouldn’t be the same viewing experience. Or even the same form of story.

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  1. Out in the Street Films / Feb 6 at 8:15am

    It seems technology is at the heart of this. Technology advances faster than anyone can keep up. We have to learn how to learn in order to get a handle on it. Every time something new crops up, like a new digital platform, or changes in the ones we have, we need to study them before putting our films on the them. But we have to try to make them work. It’s always a gamble because there are no historical trends.

    Aren’t too many filmmakers just getting stuff out without figuring out how to monetize? Why spend so much on making a film for free? We need to hold out for the right deals, on the right platforms, for the right audiences.

    And I agree, the audiences are not targeted correctly. Audience is everything. Even scripts are written with an audience in mind. That’s where our living will come from.

    The business world cannot grasp this. Ask any computer programmer. Most business managers have no clue about what is involved with making technology work. Business relies on the past, on marketing concepts and things learned in business school. But with constantly evolving technology, that becomes outdated fast. So we end up with distributors behind the eight ball, and we look to self distribution.

    Perhaps we need more PMDs (Producers of Marketing and Distribution), but mostly in social media and with knowledge of technology ( for example: http://pmdforhire.com/ ).

  2. Antonietta / Feb 6 at 8:15am

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