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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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  1. Chris Kelly / May 8 at 8:05am

    Point number 7.

    The internet is neither America nor American. If Obama goes for Net Neutrality, it will just mean people in America need to use websites hosted outside their home country.

    It’s what a lot of the world is currently doing.

  2. Ted Hope / May 8 at 8:05am

    That is an excellent point Chris. It is true my view is a tad warped by where I live and thus what I experience.

  3. johnnybee / May 8 at 8:05am

    Awesome article,count me in.We have to at least try

  4. idealfilmworks / May 8 at 8:05am

    Great, please add me, too.

  5. Filmatic Fest / May 8 at 8:05am


  6. Out in the Street Films / May 8 at 8:05am

    I honestly do not get the concern over net neutrality. I think people are overreacting. You can still download films to your box and play it as clear as day, regardless of bandwidth. With 4K already coming through Netflix and others soon, you’ll be able to play it on a 4K TV soon. Forget streaming. It doesn’t work anyway. Think outside the streaming box office.

  7. John V. Knowles / May 8 at 8:05am

    You do understand that Netflix IS streaming, right? That big fat 4K movie you want to watch someday will download as slow as molasses unless Netflix ponies up big bucks to the cable companies to give them sufficient bandwidth — and passing that cost on TO YOU. That’s why Net Neutrality is important!

  8. John V. Knowles / May 8 at 8:05am

    Will those sites still play back with sufficient speed in the States though? Whether hosted overseas or not, the issue is that American internet providers will be able to throttle any web traffic that is not paying for “Fast Lane” service. If I place my movie on a European site for people to watch then their likely won’t be an issue, but if I want to direct Americans to that site to watch it then it would most likely be throttled.

  9. Out in the Street Films / May 8 at 8:05am

    YouTube is also streaming in 4K. Sony studios shoots EVERYTHING they do in 4K and some stuff in 8K. Even indies with the Red as a standard have been shooting in 4K. However, just as a theatrical release is not worth the effort for most indie filmmakers, so goes streaming, especially without net neutrality. [Besides, for at least a few years, the indie alternative is 4K Blu-ray, due out within months, because streaming in 4K is useless without your cable company having the bandwidth, not to mention your audience having the 4K TVs. ]

    What is your alternative? Bang your head against the wall? You really think you have a shot at keeping net neutrality? Is that where you want to spend your energy, protesting in blogs or on the street? Sure, get the word out. Call your Congressperson. Vote. Good luck with that.

    Here’s the deal, as mentioned in #7, we will be left pretty much with only studio fare, like blockbusters. Do you think that’s all that the 7 billion people of the world want to see? No. The studios are running scared of indie filmmakers who have viable low budget alternative films. They don’t bring in 100s of millions for studio execs to skim off of. It is the studios that are in danger, not indies. That’s why they resort to ending net neutrality. They’re flexing their power muscles. Don’t pay attention.

    If the standard for indie filmmakers were to sell DVDs, Blu-rays, and 4K Blu-rays (plus extras content) at $20 a pop (or SD-HD-4K downloads) for 100% filmmaker profit off their own websites (instead of $2 – $5 streaming rentals for effectively $0 profit), then indie filmmakers could cash in. Downloading also circumvents the streaming and net neutrality issues.

    You can watch Breaking Bad on VOD with commercials, or buy the disks without them and without the censorship. What do you think is preferable. What makes you so convinced we need streaming? Just because it’s the latest technology? Got any stats on this? A substantial number of people don’t even have or use computers or know what streaming is.

    Do you like eating a McDonald’s or do you prefer a fine restaurant, even though the cost is many times higher?

    If you don’t have the bandwidth don’t even offer streaming. You would be offering substandard quality to drive yourself out of business. We have the power if only we will use it. Grow a pair. Thanks for the conversational engagement.

  10. John V. Knowles / May 8 at 8:05am

    Oh, I see. You didn’t actually ask a question. You just needed to spew. Carry on then.

  11. Out in the Street Films / May 8 at 8:05am

    How’s that. Better for you?

  12. cj / May 8 at 8:05am

    Number six has potent portent. How will the visual/narrative structure and rules be altered by a generation of viewers connected and addicted to several instant messaging input products at once? The days of the completely passive audience are over.

  13. Out in the Street Films / May 8 at 8:05am

    What do you propose when net neutrality ends, and it will?

  14. Out in the Street Films / May 8 at 8:05am

    At least these are solutions.

  15. John V. Knowles / May 8 at 8:05am

    I’m not proposing anything. I wasn’t aware that this was my problem to solve.

    All I can do as an independent filmmaker is try and place my film on as many platforms and sites as possible, in hopes of reaching most of my audience. And pray that those outlets have paid their “Fast Lane fees” to the service providers and won’t hold back a larger percentage of the revenue split because of it.

  16. Out in the Street Films / May 8 at 8:05am

    Good luck with that.

  17. Guest / May 8 at 8:05am

    By finding alternatives to streaming I’ll be prepared.

  18. John V. Knowles / May 8 at 8:05am

    Frankly, I don’t understand your vitriol about all this or what your point is.

  19. Out in the Street Films / May 8 at 8:05am

    Define vitriol and then read the post you refer to as spewing. There are some points there.

  20. Out in the Street Films / May 8 at 8:05am

    This is pure conjecture. 3D also was to take off. Not happening. Although 8K may reinvent it without glasses. I seriously doubt second small screens will go anywhere other than a limited audience of hyperactive teenagers who aren’t watching the film anyway.

  21. Christopher J. Boghosian / May 8 at 8:05am

    Excellent list, Ted! Where can we learn more about the “interactive web series”? Or did I miss something/a link – sorry…

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