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May 8 at 8:05am

Could These Be The Future Of FilmBiz?

By Ted Hope

Looking For The Future Of The Film Biz....We were promised jet packs.  Evolution is too damn slow. We keep telling ourselves a change is going to come, but maybe it is already here.  What have you already come across that the rest of us maybe need to climb aboard in a big way? Could any of these be tomorrow’s future today? 

Last year I wrote up a bit of future casting on film culture and business, but my predictions were more from the gut  and general observation than from what others were doing in the field.  Here are over ten additions based on things going on right now, or that those involved in the creations of the next next feel are inevitable.

  1. The Only Mass Culture Is Live Events Or Corporate MegaMovies.  Producing work for everyone requires justification for colossal markeing budgets. We — the people formerly called the audience — have already segmented and then fractionalized and then scattered some more.  Polarization of film production and audience aggregation has already occurred with a few filmmakers being selected for the tentpole biz, and the rest kickstarting their cinema of poverty onto the internet. Tim Wu has already pointed out “Netflix’s War On Mass Culture” (Must read). Is it inevitable now that Half Of TV Will Melt Away (as Chris Dorr pointed out)? Is the choice a hobby culture or 3rd act total destruction of a city?
  2. Virtual Reality Versions Of Personal Movie Theaters. We love the in cinema experience, the big theaters, the throw to the screen.  What if we got that from our own little cubicle or pod? It looks like we now can (click that link).
  3. Cinema More Immersive Than 3-D. Did you go to the Busan International Film Festival screening of the Screen X film “The X,” directed by Kim Jee-Woon? It can be the only example of such immersive cinema. (okay, so I cribbed this one from that prior post of mine, but it IS happening right now).
  4. Filmmakers Use Every Aspect Of Cinema As A Storytelling Tool Effortlessly.  Want the frame rate to vary one scene to the next? Check.  Dynamic range? Check.  Want to chose depth of field or even the frame in post? Check. If the studio tech chiefs see this as inevitable, you know it must be so.
  5. Home Theaters Better Than Your Local Cinema. - Movie theaters show images in 4096 x 2160 resolution, while the newest Ultra HD TVs show them in 3840 X 2160. Sure cinemas still win, and not everyone can even dream of affording Samsung’s $150K price tag, but since individuals will always move faster than corporations, one can picture some Home Theaters soon surpassing what is available at the local mall.  And one can also imagine the price continuing to drop.  With 4K televisions, and Netflix leading the way of such 4K HD delivery how will theaters keep up? Maybe everything will be shot on 4K.I have always thought of cinema as a social experience.  Once we move to primarily individualized viewing, will the content have to change to accommodate the experience (oh, wait, should this be another point)?
  6. All Screening Experiences Come With A Second Screen Aspect.  What? People once objected to others going online and tweeting when you were trying to watch that film? How quaint! Deluxe Entertainment Services chief technology officer Steve Weinstein proclaimed the inevitability of the second screen experience in theaters at the Technology Summit on Cinema, presented by the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers at the NAB Show in early April.
  7. Net Neutrality Ends And To Distribute Your Movie Online Is An Expensive And Painful Process – And that’s not to mention that your website never loads and that genius idea that your friend had that could save #IndieFilm that he raised money for as a start-up no longer makes sense because the Telcoms are gouging him to get on the fast track.  Well, it could happen. The end seems near. Obama’s about switch on Net Neutrality shows how the monied corporate interests usually get their way. What will it lead to? No individualized distribution of films, no small player/niche oriented distribution, limited choice, no financial incentive to innovate, little ability to earn a profit on the work you generate. You better love super hero movies because that’s all you are going to get (wait, that’s pretty much all Hollywood delivers anyway). What are we doing about it?
  8. Those Great New Platforms To Directly Distribute Your Movie On… Well, They Failed, Bailed, And Are No Longer There. – Doesn’t it sometime seem that every time you find something cool, it ends before it really began? Chill.com closed the end of 2013. There may be 12 or so TVOD platforms competing now, but that won’t stay that way for long. You know you need to come up with new ways to get your film seen.  You want to make a lot of bets, right?  Be ubiquitous. Live on many platforms. Some fail. Some might last, at least for a little while.  Do filmmakers need to worry which is which? This much IS known:  You have to make your bets and if you don’t get your content up on more sites, more of them WILL fail. If we want options, we — both as fans and artists — have to support new platforms and not worry about the fall out.
  9. A La Carte Pricing Finally Arrives For Television.  WWE is already doing it – and quite well at that.  What can the FilmBiz learn from them?
  10. We Live In Our Own AudioPods No Longer Dependent On Knowing The Language. MyLINGO lets cinemagoers listen to foreign language audio dubs of new movies through their smartphone. http://www.springwise.com/app-translates-cinema-audio-language/ Maybe this can be an antidote to the homogenization of mass culture?
  11. Audiences No Longer Recognize Edits Or Cuts In Film. New knowledge on the uniformity of “The window of visibility” will be utilized, along with that of perceptual organization, to reduce the obviousness of edits within films. The fact that the human eye receives far more stimuli than the brain can register can be exploited  to make cinema feel more like a non-stop shot. You better catch up on what Sergei Gepshtein is doing, if you want to speak next year’s language.
  12. The cost of watching a newly released film depends upon the size of the screen on which it is viewed — or so says Jeffrey Katzenberg.  Seem like a perverse incentive to project movies on the head of a pin? Well, I’ve been hoping for variable ticket pricing for some time, but thought it would be driven more by the scale of production, but maybe Mr. Dreamworks Animation is right.
  13. Filmmakers will master marketing techniques like they did low cost production and finally reach the audience with their work. When doctors finally got a checklist in the operating room, infection dropped by something like 85%.  What will happen when filmmakers finally have a comprehensive marketing checklist? Sheri Candler has gotten the ball rolling.

If you like such discussions or just what to know what is possible and where we might be headed, I suggest you join me at my new interactive web series, a six part high-level discussion on this very topic.  We will look at the form, the artist, the audience, the business, the infrastructure, and the law.  I should have some pretty smart guests joining, maybe even a familiar face or five.  It will take place every other Tuesday at 11A PT, starting on May 28th — except just to keep you on your toes, the first one will be on a Wednesday (the 28th) because of a pesky holiday that precedes it.

I will give you a sneak peak at it later today, if you want.  Tweet me and let me know.

This is just some of what Fandor is doing to help bring the film community into the present.  Thank you Fandor.  You may have noticed our recent work on the Bechdel Test. Yup, if having a great collection of great cinema was not enough, that’s a little bit more.  Step by step we will guid it better together: the world’s film community — for audiences, filmmakers, and the industry at large.

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